I have danced to this 1977 Commodores disco dance floor classic countless times. My singles group has its own personal DJ…Spin Master Clint. He always plays it at least once during our get togethers and it is a huge hit guaranteed to get everyone up and moving. I will admit though, that at face value, the lyrics are a bit sexist. And confusing. What exactly is the thought process behind comparing a woman to an outside toilet constructed of bricks? The origins, of course, trace back to the phrase … “built like a brick outhouse”. (Less refined blogs use a different term.) But still a question remains; what is the significance of a brick outhouse? So off to do some research.
Back in the early days of outhouses; (as if there really was such a thing) they were mostly thrown up with scrap lumber. Basically nothing more than a lean-to providing only a minimum of privacy. Over time they were upgraded to an actual enclosed structure, but still made of wood. Thomas Jefferson is credited with breaking that trend. He decided to have the outhouses for his vacation home in Colonial Williamsburg built with bricks. Soon it became popular with those having the means to step it up a bit and follow his example! So one of the original references to being built like a brick outhouse was to describe something constructed to a higher standard or a level above the common and ordinary. Now THAT is a definition most women would probably appreciate.
Of course, Lionel and his band definitely had a different and looser interpretation of the phrase. Truth be told (but never admitted) many women wouldn’t mind fitting the description of those song lyrics. The woman appears to be quite popular. Yet I propose we look at things from a more literal translation. I would like to suggest that regardless of her measurements, any woman can and should strive to be built like a brick house. And here is why….
A brick house is one of the most solid and dependable dwellings one can have. It is beautiful yes, but far more work and substance goes into the construction of a brick house. And as women, we need to have similar characteristics to be successful and thrive in this world.
The first thing required is a blue print. The contractor cannot just show up on Day One and start pouring random concrete. That would create an unstable and spectacular mess. He needs plans. The architect has to have invested time laying out the strategy and design. You are the architect of your life. You are responsible for the blue print of your future. How often to you consider the purpose and direction you are headed? Please be mindful on your life’s layout.
Next is the foundation. A brick house needs a sturdy foundation. This requires deep trenches and solid reinforcing bars. Having a reliable support system to steady our lives is very important. We cannot navigate this world very well alone. Our family, friends, heritage and faith help create an encircled bedrock that forms a lasting base. They stablize us and keep us level and standing firm in our resolve.
Then we must pick the right materials. The most popular type of brick is the extruded fired variety. This process has been around since 3000 BC. It involves clay being forced through an opening in a steel die. This produces a very consistent size and shape. They are then burned in a kiln. This ‘going through the fire’ makes them strong and able to withstand wind and storm. They resist termites. Hold Heat. Provide sound insulation.
What type of brick are you?? Have you been forced through trying times? Made it through the pressure? Felt the heat of struggles and pain. Good for you! It has made you who you are. Strong. Facing the storm head on. Resistant to the pests that try to eat away at your soul or heart. Insulated from the words of discouragement and negativity that others may say to you. Take courage through the conflict. You are being molded into something beautiful.
So now you are ready. You have a blueprint. The foundation is poured and the best bricks are ready. Now it is time to put it all together. It is a slow and methodical process. Each brick has to be laid one at a time. A steady progression of courage, energy, confidence. Masons use a plumb line or a large spirit level to make sure the walls are perfectly vertical. I absolutely LOVE the term Spirit Level. How awesome that it is our spirit that keeps us level and on the right track. Such a great analogy. And with each swipe of the mortar, the building takes shape. Standing on its own. Proud and independent.
That’s not quite the end though. Because a completed brick house doesn’t just sit empty. It provides shelter, warmth and protection for those inside. Who do you shelter in your life? Who depends on you for peace and comfort? Who do you block from the storm? You are more powerful, important and resilient then you ever imagined. Read that again and believe it.
So I guess I have completely destroyed the context of this fun and beloved song. Or…. maybe just added another layer (of bricks…. Get it?). Anyway, hopefully the next time you hear this song, along with the joy of the dance, you will envision yourself a beautiful, secure and amazing creation.
So here’s to all the ladies!
Go Be Mighty! Mighty!
Ain’t Holding Nothing Back!
YOU’RE A BRICK HOUSE!