We all have them. Songs that remind of us of a specific place, time, feeling. The words speak to you directly and you share the same pain/joy.
Or maybe they don’t. Maybe the song is just a way-point on your personal timeline that triggers a strong emotional response like “My Cherie Amour” does for Pat in the book/movie Silver Linings Playbook.
Tyler the Creator’s song “The Answer” reminds me of a bittersweet childhood memory.
“Girls are simply wonderful. Just to stand on a corner and watch them going past is delightful. They don't walk. At least not what we do when we walk. I don't know how to describe it, but it's much more complex and utterly delightful. They don't move just their feet; everything moves and in different directions . . . and all of it graceful.”
-Robert Heinlein, Starship Troopers
I knew I liked girls from an early age.
The age when you “weren’t supposed to” and showing them any kind of affection was GROSS and WEIRD!
I did my best to hide any favorable attention to them. I never did the “I’m making fun of you because I actually like you” thing because I was exceptionally shy as a child and the very thought of anyone finding out my “secret” was devastating.
My “Uncle” Jimmy (the son of a close neighbor of my dad’s childhood home) sniffed it out one time and teased me.
“The chicks man, yeah. They’re definitely gonna like ya!”
“No, I-, I don’t care! Stop!”
I got embarrassed and ran back into the house. My Dad found the distress over my uncle predicting girls would find me attractive when I was older particularly amusing.
He laughed and I was not amused.
I entered the first grade in 1991 and I instantly took a liking to a girl named Jessica Green. She had a glowing smile, light brown hair that she (or, her Mom, I guess) would pull back with barrettes. She had kind, blue eyes and was a bit taller (I suppose that’s where that started). She wore sweaters a lot from what I remember.
I talked to her mostly outside of class. I felt “cool” having a close girl friend. She played soccer and swam like I did and she also liked video games, which to me at the time was like finding a unicorn. The boys from my class were kinda dicks and I didn’t want them to know about our friendship, so I tried to avoid talking to her in class.
Ms. Hogan was our teacher and while she wasn’t a disciplinarian, there was little cutting up or talking out of turn. We all liked her immensely. But, whenever she was absent, this would go out the window.
One day in October, we had this substitute who looked like a heavier set Fran Drescher. I remember she had this giant black purse she plopped on Ms.Hogan’s desk. She was constantly popping peppermints in her mouth like they were keeping her alive.
She was basically a babysitter and she didn’t even do that. We all talked, ran around, played handheld games (Man, I’m getting old), or read. Jessica had invited me over to hang out at her house that afternoon. While in our “free play” mode, she asked me what time I was coming over while the dickest dick of our class, Adrian, was nearby.
“OOOOOOOOOOOOO KYLE’S PLAYING WITH A GIRL!”
Oh man, I was so pissed at him. I can’t remember what I said, but I got brought up to the front of the class with Jessica.
“Fran”, I guess we’ll call her, asks me why I was so upset. I tell her and she just flatly responds, “You’re two friends on a playdate. Have fun.”
Trouble at Home
Jessica’s house wasn’t like my house. Dirty dishes were on the counter. Empty beer bottles. They kept the lights off around the house and the living room smelled like cigarette smoke. Her grandmother also lived with her, which I thought was strange.
We didn’t play in the house, either. We mostly hung outside in the backyard and kicked a soccer ball around.
It was asking about her family that things got a little strange.
“I don’t really like my Dad.”
“He’s always mean, especially when he comes home at night.”
“Well, my Dad can be mean sometimes”, I thought. I didn’t realize at the time what she really meant, but it makes sense since I had to leave before he came home.
When I Call
After that, Jessica stopped coming to class. I tried to not care at first, but a few weeks of no attendance, I asked my Mom if I could try calling her.
I was shy enough and the phone terrified me, but I had to know.
I called. No answer. The next day, still no answer. I stopped after the third try.
I have no idea what happened to her. My parents didn’t either. I never brought it up with my teacher because I was too shy to ask.
I miss my friend.
“Because when I call /
I hope you pick up your phone /
I’d like to talk to you /
I hope you answer”