Monday, October 31, 2011

The Little Girls Understand

I'm a child of the 80s. All my first attempts at anything --  fashion, love, music, writing -- came out of that time period. Excess. Eyeliner. Fedoras.

This weekend we celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary (late) by driving down to Atlantic City to spend a couple of nights away by ourselves and to see Duran Duran in concert at the Borgata Casino. It was a great show. Exactly what it should be: dancy, high energy, sexy, with artsy graphics and a sea of women. All those women were fortyish, but still. Mark Ronson, decked in leopard Givenchy, made a guest appearance to play guitar on Girl Panic and Ana Matronic of Scissor Sisters came out to sing Safe with Simon Le Bon. 

I have a long history with Duran Duran. I've harbored a celebrity crush on John Taylor since I was about ten. He's still hard to take your eyes off of. But then I also started thinking about what this actually meant to me, as I am now. When I discovered Duran Duran, almost thirty years ago, I was impressionable, and what they were impressing worked on me: I got different clothes. I bought a pair of white lace up oxford shoes and blazers. I bleached my bangs blonde. I taught myself how to play bass guitar (no joke: the first song I learned was Save a Prayer. Later, I learned a.) some songs are easier and b.) he is a really hard bass player to emulate.) And Simon Le Bon's lyrics were the first that made me want to write my own.

Go ahead, take aim. I was also familiar with Sting and The Police, thanks to having an older brother. And while Sting taught me big words (seriously, spiritus mundi?) -- what Simon Le Bon taught me was sex and longing, desire and loneliness. One night stands? check. All night parties? check. Sex with women who are being compared to wild animals? check. Desolation and disconnect? check.

It's what Robert Olen Butler refers to as the want. It's what drives every good piece of writing. And somehow I understood this, even then. Saturday night, in the midst of images flashed on the screen behind the band, one slide that says THE LITTLE GIRLS UNDERSTAND.

It's a line from Willie Dixon's "Back Door Man," which I know as a Doors song:
The men don't know, but the little girls understand.

This week, I start teaching Lolita. I almost always answer Lolita when someone asks me for my favorite book. I've never taught it though, and I'm a little afraid I'll get stuck on what A. S. Byatt refers to as not being able to get from "I love this," to "Here it is."

I'm going to do my best to get past the initial eww of Humbert desiring twelve-year-old Lo. And while the little girls need protecting, partially what we have protected them from all this time is what they understand. We're afraid of what they understand and so we take it away from them, or we turn it into something else.

I love this. Just like I loved those sexy lyrics, the driving bass, the bedroom eyes (and lips).

Look at this tangle of thorns.

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