Saturday, November 15, 2008

Well I Don't Know Where They Come From But They Sure Do Come

K MacD asked me if my musical tastes were changing. “My friend Tom found he liked different music,” she noted. I had attributed my recent backslide into CLASSIC ROCK (THUD)* to the purchase of my sexy granny ’93 Honda Accord, which has a delightfully archaic tape deck, and no cd or alternate technologies. This has forced me to roam the radio – and we have good radio here – two decent college stations that play to my rather textbook collegiate taste in music: a nice shuffle of Wolf Parade, Bollywood, Wire, Belle and Sebastian, Coltrane, Hank Williams. You get my drift. For someone who never actually went to college I have extremely campus musical leanings.

So why do I find myself hovering between the Oldies and the RAWK stations, captivated by Badfinger and the Byrds, raspily crackeling (my T voice) with Ted Nugent and AC/DC? The former evokes a wistful nostalgia, to be sure. Those “soundtrack of your life” songs evince a time when manhood was still possible for me. I hadn’t fully surrendered to the reality of my body, which would soon betray me in a most spectacular way (if bleeding copiously for 10 days straight into an asbestos brick in your drawers could be called “spectacular”). Sure, I was getting sexy with the boys, but that’s because it felt good, not because I saw myself in any sort of context opposite or paired with them. I may as well have participated in their late night all-boy spankfests. I was still “playing the girl,” much as I did when we played house and someone else got to be “Daddy.”

The CLASSIC ROCK (THUD) station, on the other hand? Wasn’t I just mocking my best friend in Raleigh for that? Wasn’t that me, just three months ago, marveling at the antique clunk of Steppenwolf and Yes, the sodden 70’s sounds of which nearly tormented me like a mass of chigger bites as we built his porch? And now here I am, my favorite songs today are the primitively masculine yet inspired leaden classicism of “Bad Company,” “Takin’ Care of Business,” and “Cat Scratch Fever.”

Are Pantera and Poison in my future? If I find myself listening to Bruce Springsteen, you have my permission to yank away my keys, break into my home, and smash the bottle of testosterone cypionate with a femmie boot heel, whereupon I will relinquish my Mach 17 shaver like a disgraced knight. When I consider clunky, inelegant, manly music, The Boss always comes to mind. I can’t help but think “and you probably fuck like that.” What do I know, me who’s never had a dick? Maybe fucking is really hard when you’re attached to it nerve-wise.

Jaysus and Mary.

This last week has found me secure on my rock of manhood. I look at old pictures (from 8 months ago) and see a fading, former me (“you look like a lady!” exclaims Jessica). I have reached some nexus, some place from which I recognize I can never return, nor do I wish to. I feel detached from that lady of some months ago. I feel her gaze on me, Sam of the Future, hopeful, terrified, poised upon the alcoholic’s familiar tightrope: can’t go on the same, incapable of reckoning with an unseeable, and therefore alarming future. Some bell was tolling, and it had become so loud and insistent its very decibels threatened to unperch me, and I could not see a net, and I was becoming more and more unbalanced, holding on to a ludicrous frilled bumbershoot. You’re British when you’re on a tightrope.

So I fell. I’m still falling. Today it’s exhilarating. “Living on a Prayer” is playing as I drop, past me with bangs, me in a skirt, ooh, look! Me with makeup, must be the 80’s! Oh I tried to be with that guy as a girl – wow how’d that work out for ya! There I am, so sad that you set me apart because I was a girl, even though I played better, threw farther, I’m sad you exiled me first from your games, and then from your world. So I’m falling falling falling and it is delicious, tickling my stomach like the best ride at Coney Island, and I’m laughing and laughing and my voice is getting huskier and huskier, and soon, you’ll forget and you’ll call me “him” without any thought at all.

*why does the phrase “Classic Rock” always sound like there’s a hod of bricks being dumped at your feet?

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