When i was little i used to love 45’s. For those of you who are my age but lacked musically enthusiastic parents, 45’s were vinyl record singles. The number ’45’ referred to the speed that you’d play them at on your record player. Back in the 80’s, they made record players for children… little FisherPrice affairs done up in child-safe plastic with absolutely no edges. Back when Woodland Avenue used to be a place you could actually go shopping my mom and i would take a trip around the corner every week or two to go to the music store, and i netted quite a few 45’s in the process. I have happy memories of “We Built This City” and my mother’s old copy of “Bungle in the Jungle” and some random Expose song that i’ll always associate with the smell of baby powder because when i first listened to it i had just taken a shower and i was sitting on my blue rug smelling like baby power.
The cool thing about 45’s is that they had an A side and a B side to them … the single was on the A-side of the record, and some other song would be on the B-side. Singles now-a-days don’t really have the same kind of dynamic – they’re all mostly just remixes and radio edits. But, in the 80’s B-sides were fun; they’d be a track from the album that would further entice you to buy it, or sometimes the instrumental version of a song (like the B-side for “La Isla Bonita”). However, the most special kind of B-sides were songs that weren’t found anywhere on the album that the song was released from, and today that’s what a B-side is when people refer to artists like Tori Amos or Garbage. So, today there are 25 primary songs for you to aim your ears at, but also 25 B-sides that aren’t necessarily from this little adventure, but for you all the same. Enjoy.
On Friday night i had an argument with Justin about what was better: sex or concerts.
To understand the context of this discussion, you need to know a few things about Justin. First, he’s my “one male friend.” I don’t mean this to imply that i don’t consider any other men as close friends, but Justin is my guy friend… the only human being on Earth who you’ll catch me assessing the merits of an ass to, or talking about who i truly think is “hot.” Justin has impeccable taste in music, but it isn’t any of the organic thoughtful music you hear me whine about from day to day, it’s bump’n’grind and rhythm’n’blues with Prince at the helm of his collection as his own version of Garbage or Ani DiFranco. Finally, Justin and i have known each other for a long time, and while we don’t always agree with each other i tend to defend him in conversation just because i get to play advocate to his devil.
So, on Friday night we had taken one too many purity tests and everyone had ingested at least a shot of some sort of Jersey moonshine that came in an unmarked plastic anti-freeze jug, and somehow we started talking about sex and music. I opined that an amazing concert is better than good sex, and that a great song easily outpaces a good orgasm. And, Justin ripped me to shreds. How could i value something audible and intangible over sweaty lusty tangled bodies in heat? How could i rank singing along to a great song higher than getting off?
Two things became rapidly apparent in this conversation. The first was that neither of us were referring to “making love,” but to sex – and that in my book the latter doesn’t really exist without some semblance of the former so “sex” as an act wasn’t even comparable to a really shitty pop concert. The second was that Justin had only ever seen one or two concerts where the performer wasn’t merely reciting their catalogue of songs to the audience. With such incompatible views on sex and concerts, it became obvious within a few minutes that Justin and i were meant to agree to disagree.
Physical attraction is a wonderful thing, but in my world i lust after music. Imported singles make me hot under the collar. Newly announced release dates make my heart skip a beat. Getting good seats at a concert evokes a cry of passion. The day that Izabelle and i charged our Madonna tickets to my credit card my whole world was an excited explosion of joy and rapturous numbness … it was hard to believe i was living rather than dreaming. And, yet, somehow i’m sitting here at my computer and in four hours i’ll be seated inside of the First Union Center, and the lights will go down, and i will suddenly find myself in the same room as Madonna for the first time in over a decade. And, though i’ll be singing along to song after song about physical attraction and lust, i’ll know in my heart that it’s love that matters. And, right now, the love i will have for the woman singing to me from a stage in South Philly is greater than anything i could feel for anyone i’m sharing space, a bed, or body fluids with. When Madonna strums her guitar to open “Candy Perfume Girl,” or when she explodes into the vocals of “Ray of Light,” or when she closes the show with a electronically infused “Holiday,” i will be barely able to catch my breath – those moments will be ones i’ll try to replicate for years without ever being able to put them into words. The experience will be between Madonna and i and thousands of other adoring fans, and we’ll be the only ones who will ever be able to understand.
Maybe one isn’t quantitatively better than the other, but i think each of us is still a virgin with respect to what we’re not defending. And, the same way that making love to someone for the first time must eclipse everything that came before, tonight i’ll be like a virgin again; touched for the very first time.
So, i’m not a big gift-giver, but i still buy things for people all of the time. If i see a cd someone might appreciate, or a book, or a concert ticket, i buy it and give it to the person and when they ask what they owe me i tell them not to worry about it. These are unexpected prizes that life drops into your lap with no expectations or suppositions attached. Gifts, however, are awkward. Gifts require perfect amounts of attention, and people are allowed to be disappointed when they are expecting something, and then there is the moment. I hate the moment – the squinty-eyes smiling happy crinkly moment where both of you have said thank you and hugged and are then standing there with the gift between you like a UN mediator. Does the giver talk about how they chose it? Does the receiver gush more about how perfect the color is? Or, do you both stand there and crinkle until someone backs down.
I think it’s sortof like a tiny war… trying to maneuver the other person into saying their piece so that you can safely and predictably respond, ending the silence allowing you to escape. The worst is ambushing someone with a gift that was due to them at a time they weren’t expecting, which leaves you with that momentary suprise-party spike in adrenaline based anticipation and then denoument when you realize it’s just a tiny blip on your flatline daily radar and that (the screen / your heart) will settle back to normal in a moment or two.
Or, if you like to avoid para-military diplomacism in the realm of unexpected presents, you can just throw little things at people all of the time. More adlibbing, less stress, and you get much better karma for doing a undeserved good deed than you do for begrudgingly throwing money into a gift-shaped hole in someone’s life.
I used to have psychic dreams pretty regularly, but eventually my ability to fly replaced the premonitions. They were small and unimportant visions anyway, and they always came to me in an obscure enough fashion that i was never really sure of what i knew until i saw it happening in real life. But, i can’t fly rather than walking to work, so ultimately knowing just what flying feels like is a curse more than a blessing.
And knowing that Jessica’s hair would be blue ahead of when she told me she thought non-platonic meant what platonic means was actually rather amusing, in a way that distracted me from the biting pain of another romantic blunder.