In the spring of 1997 I thought it would be a super idea to fill every single square in the entertainment center with an aquarium. Much like the day that I decided to paint my entire living room including the molding and the windows dark green this decision went from thought to execution in about 45 minutes. I was a lady of ACTION. I made DECISIONS. Not always good ones but my enthusiasm made up for my brilliance on occasion.
Operation Fill All of the Squares with Pets worked out pretty well. At that time in my life my living room was headquarters to a half a dozen ne’er-do-wells and we would while away the wee hours of the morning watching surf videos. I had a mouse. And an angel fish. And a big tree frog. And a couple of tetras. And a teeny pair of frogs named Jack and Jill. It is possible that there were a few other little creatures that didn’t hang around long but that was my gang over at 1362B Mt Vernon for a good long while.
And then on one spectacularly sad night we realized that Jack and Jill had passed away. So my roommate and I did the only thing that made any sense at all. He put on the tightest black pants he owned and I teased my hair and pinned a black slip to my head like a veil and we grabbed a radio and we had a funeral.
We walked into the kitchen where we both worked with these two tiny frogs in a ziploc bag and we blared Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.” Like you do.
We are gathered here today
2 get through this thing called life
Electric word life
It means forever and that’s a mighty long time
But I’m here 2 tell u
There’s something else
The glares from everyone in the kitchen made it clear that maybe it was not the best time to “go crazy” so we scooted on out of there and headed to “the Leafe” for a wake. The Green Leafe was my Cheers. It was my spot. I turned 21 there after a few good years of partying. It used to be that if you were in the restaurant business silly things like IDs and “being of age” didn’t seem to matter so much.
This last week I found out that my beloved college bar had closed its doors. With my 40th birthday looming ahead I took a moment to look back. I spent some of my finest moments in college at the Leafe. I loved and laughed and cried and drank and smoked (good God, remember when you could chain smoke inside? How crazy was that?) and then I guess somewhere along the way it had been almost ten years since I had been there. How did that happen exactly? I guess I am getting older, huh?
‘Cause in this life
Things are much harder than in the after world
In this life
You’re on your own”
But I haven’t been on my own and things are pretty a-ok and growing up hasn’t been awful. Not awful at all, actually.
“And if the elevator tries to bring you down
Go crazy, punch a higher floor!
If you don’t like the world you’re living in
Take a look around you
At least you got friends”
I was going to sit down this afternoon and write a funny little something about how my mammogram was a breeze, y’all…. But I opened my laptop and all of a sudden…. Prince. Everywhere. Prince.
A lifetime ago “Let’s Go Crazy” was a funeral song for a pair of teeny, tiny fish and today I see it spreading across social media to mourn and celebrate the death of the one and only Prince.
I learned to roller skate backwards to “Darling Nikki.” I was trying so hard not to fall down I guess I never really thought too much about that funky time. Well, not until Tipper Gore told me it was filthy and then you can bet your ass I paid attention.
I imagined my life as a glamorous adult as I sang “Little Red Corvette” in my room in 1983. I was seven years old and that album, 1999…. it blew my mind. Years later I would (along with the rest of the world) listen to “1999” during what was my absolute most terrible New Year’s Eve. Ever.
His songs… I could tell you what I think about as I listen to each and every single of his tunes. But I don’t want to. I want you to go and listen. Remember where you were. Share them with your kids. Because Prince represents some fabulously synthesized moments of all of our pasts, sure… but he can also play the shit out of the guitar, y’all.
Prince. You were so, so cool.
Someone needs to find Springsteen, U2, Stevie Wonder, and Elton John and take them into protective custody for the rest of 2016.
I literally had almost the same thought. “Gees, I hope Bruce Springsteen keeps himself safe… We can’t take anymore.”
Yes. Just yes. 1999 WAS the worst New Year’s Eve, only slightly ameliorated by that song. And Darling Nikki, they played it at my 8th grade dance. Until a chaperone saw our faces and realized there was something bigger going on and then the scraping sound of a record needle across vinyl. Literally. Me in my purple/pink/blue net over taffeta dress and my side ponytail standing in the gym with strands of crepe paper everywhere. Every single song is like that. Visceral. Immutable.
Sad, sad day. We’ve had too many of them already this year.