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Don’t Stop Believin’

January 6, 2010

I have always been a romantic. I fall in love with curious weather, public kisses, sudden parcels, and coy gestures. I listen to Journey and sort of wish Steve Perry was singing about me. I hate when small creatures perish, clamped between the jaws of wolves in nature documentaries, but watch anyway, a quiet ache slugging my chest.

When I talk about romance, I mean a complicated collection of things, each of which is really quite simple. Perhaps this signifies an evolved definition of the word, an evolved consideration of private preferences, longings, manners, and material things. Or, perhaps it exposes me as unable to define “romance” at all, casting about for this and that, and assembling a weird abstraction that forms a whole recognisable only to me.

In 1984, my faith in romance meant that the right outfit would score me a summer boyfriend while I waited in line for concert tickets. If we both loved WHAM!, then it followed that we might also love each other. A preteen syllogism linking music, kids, clothes, hearts. This boyfriend would believe, because of my carefully selected purse and shoes, and the feather of my bangs, that I was at least thirteen. I’m not sure how old I imagined this boy would be, but a scandalous fourteen probably seemed reasonable at the time.

When that mission failed and we stepped out of line gripping our tickets but holding no boys’ hands, my girlfriends and I set our sights on the concert itself, where surely we’d score one cute guy apiece. Whipped into a froth by George Michael’s profound, sexy lyrics, these eager young men would sweep us from our stadium seats and away to teenage paradise. And, where was this paradise located? At the nearby midway, of course, with its Ferris wheel, cotton candy, rifle games, and custom-made t-shirts.

That we barely looked our age (eleven) and would be under an older sister’s heavy guard did nothing to quash our fantasies. Using the adult Judy Blume books for reference, we cobbled together our idea of dating: sex would be grand (though we barely knew what it was), and anything is possible when love is on the scene. Littering our daydreams with a few bearskin rugs, hands shoved up t-shirts, and weak-kneed sighs, our scenes stopped at second-base, pretty much because that was where our concrete understanding of Judy Blume stopped, too. We got it, that something more daring went down in those novels, but remained a bit muddled about the more…advanced…vocabulary.

Needless to say, our practiced swaggers and off-the-shoulder sweatshirts went unnoticed by the young men in our section. Screaming our heads off for slickly tanned pop stars, we looked super-cute, not to mention totally ready for awesome dates. And yet, none of the good-smelling, white-jeans wearing, earring-sporting guys took note. Years later when we learned the more intricate workings of sexual identity, and George Michael was exposed as a toilet trader, my girlfriends and I grasped why those fey concert-going boys weren’t up for it with a pack of teenage girls.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. looka permalink
    August 20, 2008 8:56 am

    Growning up, there’s this vendor, lights brightly overblinking the smallprint on the wraping over the good things on offer. Yet too hardly glued for your age to open. Eventhough, later you tasted it,
    you go: “Complicated Ingredient? Sell it to the other guy!”

  2. Amanda permalink
    August 22, 2008 2:59 pm

    Growing up indeed is all about figuring out which wrapping paper to tear away, and which to leave sealed, despite the temptation to break open everything in site. Well put, Herr Haeussle!

  3. January 9, 2010 6:40 pm

    Damn girl. This time you’re the one who’s inspiring ME to write a response piece! I’m working on it right now. Expect to see it posted in the next day or two.

    Anyways, how we missed GM’s gayness back in the day is incredible to me now. Especially in light of this:

    • welltailored permalink*
      January 10, 2010 12:02 pm

      Oh my goodness! I forgot about that song and video. I am still reeling from the line about “jet black boys with cool hi-fi’s”…hoo…

  4. veena permalink
    January 20, 2010 11:27 am

    Happy New Year, Amanda.
    My sister and I are enjoying The Edible City. My sister, regarding your piece in it: “this lady really knows her shit. ”
    Veena 🙂

  5. Patrick permalink
    January 22, 2010 3:50 am

    “Don’t Stop Believing”…. Great song and, I admit, the theme for my Junior High graduation. (Yeah… I’m really that OLD!) Someone pulled down the letters that night and turned it into “Don’t stop Living….” which was probably just as good advice as any other. I think this night, (when I was 15) was the last night I waltzed with anyone. Oh… I am Sooo lame!

    Even though I was 16 when WHAM made their debut, it never occurred to me that G.M. might actually be gay. How naive was I?!

    • welltailored permalink*
      January 22, 2010 8:28 am

      In that case, you could’ve been the perfect imaginary boyfriend that we thought we might meet at the Wham concert hahaha

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