Remembering the Dumb Moments That Shaped Me Through Songs - Part Three
Most of my young life was spent making up dance routines.
MADONNA “LIKE A VIRGIN”
I have a childhood best friend who lives down the block from me. Her grandmother takes care of her in the daytime. She has a pool and a huge T.V, plus, we “get” one another so we hang out everyday. We even have rhyming names; the old people on our street wave at us when we are making chalk drawings in the cul-de-sac. It’s the summer of 1992 and we are obsessed with Madonna. We take over her parents' living room, turn it into a stage, and make up dance routines that mirror Madonna’s. My best friend's older sister has a video of Madonna performing live. We steal it from her room and when her grandmother goes in the basement to do laundry, we pop in the tape and lay down on the carpet with our noses to the screen. We wiggle around. Madonna is sexy, but we don’t “get” sexy yet so we assume it has something to do with that same, good feeling you get when you ride your bike real hard uphill. One day we get caught while watching the video, right at the part when Madonna is sitting on a plush, silk bed surrounded by big black men pretending to suck someone off while singing, ‘Like A Virgin." Her grandmother stops the video telling us it’s inappropriate, turns on General Hospital, and sends me home. I am upset, but I have my bike and my ride home is on an incline. So, everything is cool.
MADONNA “OPEN YOUR HEART”
I do a dance routine to this song in my backyard during my tenth birthday celebration. The theme of the party is performance and celebrity because even in the fifth grade, I am a secret attention whore who just wants to be on stage. I practice my routine for weeks in my bedroom. It’s to Madonna’s “Open Your Heart,” which is my favorite song on the Immaculate Collection cassette. At the party, I’m wearing one of my mother’s lacey blouses, my hair is crimped, and I’ve smeared on red lipstick. My friend Brianne lends me her chunky, plastic, 90s heels because my mother won’t buy me shoes like that. I think the routine is the best thing I have ever done in my life. I make up this one really slick move where I curl my hands under one another like an Egyptian princess when Madonna says, “I’ll give you love if you turn the key." I’ve watched a lot of Madonna live performances, so I know how to do the Madonna “thing." The only thing that would have made this routine better would have been two sexy sailor boys, I tell myself.
Years later, the videotape of this dance routine becomes a massive family joke. When I bring new boyfriends home, my sisters try to embarrass me by showing them the Madonna routine. It works like a charm.
SPICE GIRLS “SAY YOU’LL BE THERE”
When the Spice Girls come out I am at just the right age for this to be the biggest thing for my teenage female ego. I’m in the fourth grade. Every one in my friend circle picks a Spice Girl to identify with. We sit on the playground at lunch and argue about who is more “Posh” or “Sporty” or “Scary." I always have to play Ginger, even though I really want to play Scary Spice, but I’m far too white. So, I suck it up and do Ginger’s parts. We waste a lot of time after school dolling ourselves up to look like our Spice idols. Then, we practice a routine, which we will eventually unveil at the school talent show. Beauty pageants aren’t a big thing in our community, so we invent them for ourselves by imitating the Spice Girls. We slather ourselves with bright makeup. We flip through teen magazines and copy the “looks” we see. We read Cosmo, but we can’t imagine sucking a dick or pleasing a man. The Spice Girls give us a false sense of womanly power. It’s enough to survive the year delusional and happy.
RAPHEL SADDIQ FEAT. Q-TIP “GET INVOLVED”
The dance routines do not stop in high school, but our audience changes. Instead of doing little dances for each other, girls do them to impress the boys. Moves are catered to be coy, yet sexy. Nothing is too overt because no one wants to be called a “desperate attention slut." During grade nine, four girls in my friend group name themselves “The Girl Pack." They are the cool ones. They only wear black outfits on Fridays, listen to rap, smoke weed, and flirt with the guys. They drink stolen vodka and make up dance routines. They have one in particular to a Raphel Saddiq song that they perform at parties. They giggle and the bossy one yells out for someone to put the song on. Everyone is forced to watch this awkward cry for attention and approval as it takes over the party. Some girls are jealous, they want to be in “The Girl Pack” but I just feel lost.
Later in the year, the bossy leader of “The Girl Pack” steals my Clinique eye shadow while we are all at a party. When someone tells me it was her, I confront her and she lies to my face. I see her wearing the shimmering pink eye shadow at school. I want to kill her, but she’s cooler and scrappier than me. Plus, she has an older sister who she poses as a threat whenever things do not go her way. I forget about the eye shadow and try to tell myself that there is more to life than this shit.
Previously: Part Two
A new drug called sisa is tearing its way through Athens' poor.
Ken Baumann's first novel is, in short, fucked.
Cat cafes are huge in Japan right now.
As his skills with hatchet might suggest, Kai has a violent steak.
Greece's infamous new drug, sisa, is meth mixed with filler ingredients like battery acid.