80s Parents and The Saga of BoyCrush 

When I was 7 years old, my favorite song was “Maniac” by Michael Sembello, from the Flashdance soundtrack.  Yes, I was allowed to watch Flashdance when I was 7 years old because “80s parents”.  Anything short of a snuff film would have passed muster with 80s parents.  Now I’m going to make you repeat the words “snuff muster” over and over in your head, because I’m doing it myself and I feel it’s only fair that I spread the wealth.  Snuff muster.  Snuff muster.  Snuff muster.

We discussed this earlier.  Never do anything just because I told you do it.  I will become drunk with power and the next thing you know, you’ll open a bag of Fritos and I’ll appear from thin air, take the bag from your hands and say, “You weren’t eating these, were you?” and then walk away with it.

“You wouldn’t do that!”

It’s like the Maya Angelou quote everybody loves to throw around:  “When someone tells you they will steal your corn chips, believe them the first time.”

We had a local rollerskating rink we used to go in the early 80s, where parents would typically drop you off around 10am with $3 in your pocket, speed away while blasting a Frankie Goes to Hollywood song, and then pick you up 7-10 hours later.  It’s what they now call “free-range parenting”, and except for everyone getting molested and stabbed, it worked out pretty great.

Generally speaking, back then if you were savvy enough when you were 7 to turn down a pixy-stick of cocaine from a 30 year old guy named “Scary Gary” and skate away like your parachute pants were on fire, your parents felt they had done their job instilling a solid fear base in you, as well as the athletic prowess required to escape such stealthy, googly-eyed, predators-on-wheels.  You could basically just self-parent from that point forward.

My sisters and I had been dropped off at the skating rink one Saturday, and it turned out my super duper, #1, oh my god, crush was there.

BoyCrush was, by far, without question, the cutest boy in the first grade.  He had sandy light brown hair, big dark doe eyes, and a smile like someone in a toothpaste ad.  He was always dressed so clean and neat, and unlike every other boy in class, his hands weren’t covered in dirt and warts.

My feelings about BoyCrush were not unique by any means.  Everyone had a crush on BoyCrush.  Aside from being cute, he was the only boy who was ever nice to us girls.  Instead of throwing rocks at us on the playground, he was usually found delicately pushing us girls on the swings or playing Chinese jump-rope with me and my friend Tricia on the basketball court.  BoyCrush was the total package.

My sisters knew about my crush on BoyCrush, and even if they didn’t, anyone could have put two and two together.  This kid was universally adorable.  Any girl could have walked by and someone could yell, “You think this kid is cute, DON’T YOU?” and they’d eventually cave in and say, “YES.  IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT TO HEAR?  YES!  HE’S SO FREAKING CUTE!  I’M NOT MADE OF STONE.  I HAVE TWO EYES, YOU KNOW.”

In an effort to match-make us at the skating rink, my sisters cornered BoyCrush near the restroom and told him that I liked him, and then he immediately ran into the boys’ restroom and hid.  Upon hearing that they ACTUALLY TOLD HIM that I liked him, I ran into the girls’ restroom and hid.

Unbeknownst to me, my sisters then went to the DJ and requested my favorite song, “Maniac”.  They came back to the girls’ restroom with a plan to coax me out.

My sister Julie knelt down beside me on the restroom floor, the feather roach-clip in her hair danging over me and said, “You know, BoyCrush just went to the DJ and asked him to play “Maniac” because it’s your favorite song and he wants to skate with you.”

My sister Bonnie chimed in, “It’s true.  I saw him go up to the DJ booth and ask.  He totally wants to skate with you.”

I said, “Really?  BoyCrush said he wants to skate with ME?”

They nodded their heads in unison, “Yep.”

I couldn’t believe it.  BoyCrush wanted to skate with me.  Of all the girls in the world, he picked me.  I’d never felt so special.  At least not since Chef Boyardi started selling Beef-a-roni in the family-size can.

I eventually came out from the girls’ restroom and passed by the boys’ restroom.  BoyCrush was sitting on the tile floor, up against the wall, looking extremely distressed while a couple of my sisters’ guy friends (including his own older brother) appeared to be trying to talk him into something.  He had a desperate look on his face, like he was being interrogated by the police.

Just then, “Maniac” came on over the sound system.  I guess my sisters weren’t lying after all!  I waited for BoyCrush, but he was still in the boys’ room, so I skated out on the rink alone.  About halfway through the song, I saw BoyCrush emerge from the boys’ room and come out onto the rink.  I slowed down so he could catch up with me, then he took off like a rocket and zoomed right past me.

When Monday morning rolled around at school, he and I pretended like the whole thing had never happened.

I ran into BoyCrush at a bar many years later, when he had returned home from college for winter break.  We had a couple drinks together and reminisced about our old school days.  After my second drink, I worked up some nerve and said, “What was the deal that day at the skating rink when we were in first grade?  My sisters said you requested “Maniac” so you could skate with me, and then you just blew me off!”

I playfully knocked him in the shoulder and laughed, “How could you break my little 7 year old heart?!”

He laughed, and laughed and laughed and laughed, and then said, “Oh, my sweet.  Your sisters were soooo fucking with you.  I never asked the DJ to play that song.  Did you seriously not know I was gay?  For god’s sake – I used to play Chinese jump-rope with you and Tricia – in public!”

(I imagine you probably came to that conclusion yourself when I mentioned Chinese jump-rope a few paragraphs ago.)

I said, “How the hell was I supposed to know?  I was 7!”

BoyCrush said, “Fine.  How about when we were in middle school and I went to the New Kids on The Block concert with a pack of 13 year old girls?”

I said, “Plenty of people liked New Kids on The Block besides teenage girls!”

BoyCrush gave me his best “Bitch, please” look and said, “Name ONE boy or man.”

I started to answer and he put up his index finger and said, “One that’s NOT gay. And before you continue, may I also remind you about the time in high school when I did a spot-on lip-synch performance of Madonna’s “Hanky Panky” in front of everyone outside the art room?”

He probably had me on that one.

He clinked his glass against mine and said, “And I NAILED IT, chica.”

The Six Hundred Dollar Orange

As a young lass, I was thoroughly under the impression that men had very, very high dating standards when it came to women.  You often hear men describe the kind of woman they’re looking for as “5’ 10”, 105 pounds, model-type, no baggage, no high maintenance”.

Women hear that description and laugh so hard it makes their heads hurt, and then, unfortunately, on a deeper level, they immediately feel inadequate, like there’s something wrong with them for not meeting those requirements, even though they know they’re ridiculous.

For starters, if you see a thin woman who is 5’ 10”?  She probably weighs at least 160 pounds.  Women can’t tell you that, because men hear “160 pounds” and immediately close their eyes and picture the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.  I once heard a guy describe a woman as “pretty freaking chunky”, and when his friend asked how much he thought she weighed, he said, “Oh man, she probably weighed like 120.”

Sorry, I just guffawed so hard that I choked on this Weight Watchers ice cream bar, not to mention a bucket of hopes and dreams.

Also, when I was 13 years old, I was 5’ 1” and weighed 105 pounds, and people accused me of being anorexic or having some kind of terminal disease.  My head looked like a lollipop with my body as the stick.  You could play xylophones on my ribcage, front and back, and I couldn’t lie flat on my back because my spine dug into the mattress so hard that it would leave a bruise on me.  So, no, barring some weird supermodel whose bones are made of paper, nobody is 5’ 10” and weighs 105 pounds.

And “Model-type”?  Really?  Unless you, yourself, are the equivalent of a male model, then no.  Juuuuuuuust no.

“No baggage” means you should have no problems of any kind.  You know, like all those scores of people in the world who have no problems?  I’m sure the person who’s requiring you to have no baggage certainly has no baggage himself!

That sound you just heard, was me rolling my eyes until they fell out of my head and onto the floor.  I know you may live 5,000 miles from here, but I’m sure you still heard it.

Related, anyone who tells you that they are “drama-free” will always, without fail, every time, be the most dramatic motherfucker you’ve ever met in your entire life.  Count on it.

“No high maintenance” means you should wake up in the morning and look flawless.  Fuck you.  I’m not even going to dignify that one with a response.

It’s funny, because you would think that since men’s standards are so very high, that only one out of like every 100,000 women would have a boyfriend or husband and the rest of us would be toiling the nights away alone, crying in a house full of cats and collecting cobwebs in our hoo-hahs.  Look around and, obviously, you’ll see that’s not the case.  Not even close.

As I have become a dusty old hag, I have realized that these men are not highly discerning at all.  They’re just attempting to be shrewd negotiators. These types of men, the ones who state this ridiculous laundry list of standards, are usually the same ones who will turn around and stick it in anything that moves.  They’re just starting off the negotiation from what they think is the highest asking price, which is for some reason, a supermodel with the body of a praying mantis who also has no problems and wakes up looking flawless.  They know that woman’s not showing up.  They figure there’s no harm in throwing that asking price out there.  It’s a first offer.

So what do you do?  You do what you do with any first offer.  Reject it and counter.

If he says, “5′ 10″, 105 pounds”, you counter with “5′ 3″, 220 pounds”.

If he says, “Model-type”, you counter with “I am good at my accounts receivables job.”

If he says, “No baggage”, you counter with, “You first, asshole.”

If he says, “No high maintenance”, you counter with, “I don’t often leave skidmarks.”

Then tell them to take it or leave it.

It reminds me of this episode of Designing Women where MaryJo is complaining about how when she lived in Mexico, there was no such thing as a price tag, and when she would ask a shopkeeper, “How much is this orange?” they would size her up and say, “Six hundred dollars”.  Then she would put the orange down and walk away, and the shopkeeper would chase after her and yell “Thirty cents!”

All this fretting over whether some guy doesn’t want to date you because your eyebrows aren’t perfectly waxed, or because you have cellulite or weigh more than 105 pounds.  And OMG what if he finds out you have problems?!!  All the emotional strife because you’re not the kind of woman who can roll out of bed looking perfect.  I’m here to tell you it’s all for naught.  I’ve never encountered any man whose standards are actually that high.  And if they are?  They can go jump into a dick-shaped volcano.  You don’t want to be with someone like that anyway.  Those are the guys who will never, ever stop looking for the bigger, better deal.

Slow your roll, women.  Take a deep breath.  You don’t need to meet somebody’s ludicrous requirements, because their requirements are exactly that:  Ludicrous.  They are as ludicrous as asking someone to pay $600 for an orange.

A Cup of Heartbreak in B-flat

Someday, as your musician boyfriend will no doubt promise you, he is going to be rich and famous and he will definitely, absolutely, without a doubt, pay you back for all the stuff you’ve had to buy for his sorry ass.

Okay, that was a little harsh, not to mention, inaccurate.  Let me re-phrase that.

Add “by dumping you to bang indie actresses” after “pay you back”, and then replace “sorry ass” with “career that will eventually end with a poorly-received experimental electronica album”.  Hang on – I have included the mark-up below:

Someday, as your musician boyfriend will no doubt promise you, he is going to be rich and famous and he will definitely, absolutely, without a doubt, pay you back by dumping you to bang indie actresses for all the stuff you’ve had to buy for his sorry ass career that will eventually end with a poorly-received experimental electronica album.

One of the most hilarious, yet oddly enduring, grifts with regard to dating musicians is that if you love and financially support your unemployed musician boyfriend, after he “makes it big” and his album sells its first few million copies and he wins a couple of Grammy awards, the two of you will get married and move into one of those mansions in the fancy outskirts of Nashville where guys like Jack White will pop by unannounced to ask if they can borrow a cup of heartbreak in B-flat.

(I assume all of the successful musicians who move to those neighborhoods have a dedicated cellar in their mansions where they store heartbreak in various musical keys, because it’s mandated by Nashville’s city charter just above “2. Get down, turn around, go to town, the Boot Scootin’ Boogie”.  Also, I chose B-flat because it was the key Whoopi Goldberg had to figure out in Jumpin’ Jack Flash after listening to the song on repeat over and over again so she could get on the secure computer line with that British spy who was trapped somewhere in Eastern Europe.  When’s somebody remaking that movie?)

Regardless, it’s certainly better than having a dedicated cigar cellar in your mansion, which automatically means you are the most insufferable person on the planet, not to mention the stinkiest.  For the record, I have never seen someone smoking a cigar and thought, “I bet that’s a cool person.”  The only people who think you look cool with a cigar are other guys who are standing nearby also smoking cigars, and you think they look cool, too, so all you’ve really done is created one of those human centipede scenarios.  Now I’m just picturing three cigars attached to each other ass-to-mouth.  Thanks.

You’ll move into this Nashville mansion that’s got one of those pools shaped like a music note, adopt a bunch of rescue dogs and start a foundation in your spare time between your personal yoga training appointments and lunches with Drea de Matteo and Shooter Jennings, who tell you that while they are no longer together as a couple, they remain on good terms for the sake of the kids.  You’ll eventually become tennis buddies with them and “totally razz” Shooter when he comes out of the clubhouse wearing white tennis shorts with a wallet chain and a tall boy of local craft beer bulging out of his pocket.

Drea will throw her arms up and say, “I know!  You can’t take this guy anywhere!” and then you’ll all laugh about it later on when you go check out that secret after-hours show at The Bluebird Cafe where Miranda Lambert is trying out new material for her next album.  You’ll tell regular people you forget “all the time” that Drea was on The Sopranos, but you know damn well it’s literally all you ever think about anytime you see her, and you have to stop yourself from calling her “Adriana” every time you talk to her.  Anytime you think about that scene where Steve Van Zandt tells her to get in the car, and you know she definitely won’t be coming back, it makes you start to tear up, because you’re NOT MADE OF STEEL, FOR GOD’S SAKE.

The bittersweet memories of the beginning years, the tough years, the years when you had to work two jobs and sell your blood plasma to pay all the bills and get your unemployed musician boyfriend the guitar he wanted for his birthday, the “Livin’ On a Prayer” years, will be but fading images in the rearview mirrors of your fleet of fully loaded luxury automobiles.

His newest number one song that has rocketed to the top of the charts will be about you and how your never-ending love and devotion were sometimes the only things that got him through another tour of the Pacific Northwest in a broken down, leaky 1989 Chevy Astro van that his drummer had to push-start half the time.  This earned his drummer the nickname “The Pusher”, even though he likes to make up a story that he actually got the nickname from being an “enforcer” for the IRA back when he still believed in “The Cause”.  The Pusher’s rosary beads, that used to dangle so proudly from the rearview mirror, now reside in the glove box next to his St. Christopher keychain, because even when Catholics decide they aren’t Catholics anymore, they still believe that jewelry and keychains will keep other cars from crashing into them on the highway.

Your successful musician husband will surprise you on your second wedding anniversary with a tattoo across his back that says “Angel of Montgomery”, and it’ll be a portrait of you done by Kat Von D, depicting you with angel wings and your bought-and-paid-for, brand new bitchin’ rack of boobies.  Also, you are from Montgomery, Alabama or that tattoo doesn’t make any sense.

Your eventual children, Gunnar and Patton (twins!), will go to one of those preschools where people like Zac Brown send their children, and they will weave you a wine glass-cozy for Mother’s Day out of sustainably-harvested felted wool that says “Mommy Juice” on the side, and you’ll laugh one of those hearty, belly-type laughs even though you have rock-fucking-hard abs from all the Pilates you did with Nicole Kidman’s trainer that morning, as you sit on the porch with a glass of Rose’ that was made at your friend Jon Bon Jovi’s new vineyard.

Overlooking the gorgeous, lush rolling Tennessee hills of your rustic, yet palatial estate, you’ll remember all the times, all those years ago, that you overdrafted your bank account to make your unemployed musician boyfriend’s car payment and buy his gas, all the times you cried when you got your paycheck because it was already gone from having to pay the rent and all the bills by yourself, all of the times you picked up the dinner check while he looked down and fiddled with a pointy charm from his many black leather cord necklaces, and you’ll smile a knowing smile and think, “I loved him when he was nobody, and look at what we built together with that love.  It was all worth it.”

Then you will wake up from this dream in the rags you now wear for clothes, shake off the street-scabies, and push your bag-lady shopping cart down the street to get a bowl of soup down at the mission.  You will pass a store window with a television showing the live red carpet arrivals at that year’s Grammy awards, and the unemployed musician boyfriend you loved and supported all those years will be on the screen in a Tom Ford tuxedo and ironic high-top sneakers from the 80s, with someone Hollywood refers to as “The Next Jennifer Lawrence” on his arm.  He’ll tell Ryan Seacrest that he couldn’t have made it this far without her, and that even though they’ve only been dating a month, she is his “soulmate”, and you will go to the library so you can use their computer and free internet to post a one-star rating for her latest movie and point out her cankles.

He used to make fun of people who used hokey terms like “soulmate”.

You will shuffle back from the library to your cardboard box only to be served with a subpoena from the credit department at Guitar Center for all of the shit you were manipulated into buying for Mr. Grammy Winner when he didn’t have a pot to piss in, and then you will proceed to lie down and die penniless in the gutter, still with your original boobs that he used to call “just okay”, and a credit score of 480.