A bizarre song hit the airwaves at the same time that I began having older boys “check me out.” I didn’t know what to make of either experience. Today I finally figured out the song. Maybe after re-reading The Diary of a Young (read: Hormones are Happening) Girl by Anne Frank, I will figure out the older boys experience.
Let’s start with my musical journey. Until age 9, I listened only to the music my mom listened to. She listened to great music. The kind that made you want to clean the house or roll down the windows while out driving. Then with some iconic pop music thrown in from friends so that we could have dance parties in our basements, I began to veer away a little from her tastes.
For my birthday in fourth or fifth grade, my twin and I received a little AM/FM radio. Rhythm & Blues selections with lyrics I shouldn’t have known crept into my life. A few months later our family received our very first CD player/tuner/phonograph/cassette tape player/stereo from Santa. Amy Grant’s latest album and Classical Overtures, my father’s only musical selections until a short stint with country music ten years later, met us on Christmas morning.
Where did that leave the family stereo that had graced us with “All Things Considered,” “Prairie Home Companion,” and all the Soft Rock Mix stations? This gigantic paperweight had probably seen the Carter administration, and now it would become the bedside table between two twin beds. By December of sixth grade, however, its acoustic prowess had our little AM/FM radio packing its little antenna into a forgotten corner of our closet. Now living with us in a new town, the tuner was finding stations it had only ever dreamed of.
I began listening to “Alternative Rock” when I entered 7th grade on 93.3 KTCL, “The Adventure.” I had dabbled in the angst because of the highschooler Justin while in 6th grade, but peer pressure had me tight, and all the cool kids still listened to R&B.
Oh, I had seen magazines hidden under my older friend’s bed that highlighted big hair bands, but why anyone wanted to listen to music by men who looked like poodles in leather jackets completely eluded me.
Yet I knew I loved Bon Jovi because of my second grade crush (who also turned me on to the mullet), so power ballads held a place in my throbbing heart. The kind of place that makes a person want to hold their hand over their heart when Livin’ on a Prayer breaks into their mom’s soft rock mix station. Springtime 1987. So many crushes, so little airtime for requests and dedications.
So back to September 1993. Autumn leaves on the cusp of change. The array of colors about to burst on the scene matched the range of boys I had on my radar. What they listened to, I listened to (with discretion). So I now listened to Red Hot Chile Peppers because of my friend’s older brother Colt and Blind Melon because of Joey. Give me another band with a food name, and I was ready to devour it. Though I wasn’t sure I could eat Pearl Jam or the result of Smashing Pumpkins.
When Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell: II album took the stage, I cringed to hear ladies at church talk about someone from their high school days now making a comeback. Shoot! I’d totally fallen for that “anything for love” single. It didn’t sound all heroic and self-sacrificing like Bryan Adams’ “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You,” which had come and gone from my heart palpitations an entire year ago.
Instead, this Total Eclipse meets Bon Jovi had me at the first of many climaxes (speaking in musical terms here). It sounded sensual and passionate without being vulgar like the rap I had listened to only months before (I can’t believe some of the disgusting lyrics I didn’t fully grasp then–I was in elementary school for goodness’ sake!).
If you think I analyze lyrics now, consider Meat Loaf’s oft-repeated words here: “I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that.”
Without the benefit of an album cover with its foldout pages of lyrics or the Internet (I wouldn’t meet AZ Lyrics for another ten years), and because I may have heard a radio edit or at least not always tuned in for the entire 12-minute song, I had nothing to go on for what “that” meant.
But I really wanted to know what “that” was. Pronouns have always been important to our coming-of-age children. Not just “Am I a he or a she?” but did you just say, “Let’s do it” to me? Blushing. Oh, you meant the math problem. Of course. A-hem. Right. Moving on.
“For love.” What sort of “for” does he mean? I hadn’t taken my Intro to Spanish course yet, (that’s when I would pass Seth in the hall–I was dying to know what music he listened to since just the way I felt when he looked at me was wowza). So por/para may have added to the confusion, but I liked having my FANBOYS in a row. Does Meat Head, I mean Meat Loaf, mean “for” as in “for the sake of,” “in order to obtain,” “in exchange for,” or “because of”? So many options!
And “love.” Does he mean that feeling of being loved? Or for the sake of love, like when you take up a cause? Or does he mean love in that [fanning my hot cheeks] way that the “How-to-Not-Kill-Yourself-or-Get-Raped-Shock’em-Straight” motivational speaker in 7th grade meant when he revealed to an assembly of pubescents that “ladies, if a guy looks into your eyes and says he loves you, he just wants sex.”
He said that like it was a bad thing, part of my almost teen self thought.
[The lady turning 40 this year adds: I love that my parents nurtured a place in my understanding that said, “Sex will be a meaningful part of your life someday” instead of just scaring me with the risks related to it. And I am so relieved that we did not have MTV and other cable programming to watch unrealistic and distorted portrayals of sex.
If we did watch any suggestive content in PG-13 movies (or 1980s PG movies) together, we had some resident experts to say, “Yeah, that would never happen,” or “We might need to skip this part for now.” Is it weird that I knew my parents would make a better scene for themselves later? Parents can get all sorts of things wrong (I sometimes think I’m going for a new record), but I know my parents did much better than the average parents for how they set the tone on sex.
Now that I sound like I can handle anything, keep in mind that I have a tween wanting a phone. I was about to say this is where the rubber meets the road, but now everything I say sounds like innuendo. Oh, dear. I can’t even imagine how horrified I would be to see what the modern teen’s media intake looks like. No subtlety. Just texted conversations would throw me. I still want “AF” to stand for Anne Frank.]
Anyway, enough of what a teen might think of the word “that” (and P.S. the internet tells you the answer in an anti-climactic microsecond).
Today I figured out for myself what Meat Loaf meant when he intoned “I would do anything for love, but I wont. do. that.”
So we’re going to go with the “for love” that means, “to prove my love.”
Imagine the man in your life saying: “I would do anything to prove my love for you, but I won’t _____________.”
Come on, ladies, think. What could your man do that would give you more pleasure than anything else? What would create deep and lasting satisfaction and make you giggle when looking across the breakfast table at him? What would have you giddy with glee every time you looked at him after he did “that”?
The nearing 40 woman answers again, for women everywhere (and men who are married to men, one of you has to be like this)–your husband comes in from an appointment with an expert of some kind (auto mechanic, doctor, therapist, dentist) and says, “You know that problem you were telling me to get checked out? Well, you were right. I did need to pay attention to it, and now I’m getting it all taken care of. It feels good to not have that hanging over me…”
He pauses in his proud moment to notice you smiling to yourself and absentmindedly folding and refolding the kitchen towel while you let your grilled cheese sandwich burn. This moment of triumph glows from your eyes like an Olympic torch. The stadium is ready to rock.
“…and since I’m home early, we could, uh, make some lunch together?” And that’s when making lunch out of nothing at all becomes your favorite song that has nothing to do with food. All you need is a good air supply.
[If the last reference is too obscure for you, my favorite song as a child was Air Supply’s “Making Love Out of Nothing at All.” And I’d like to think that love and air being all you need is a nod to The Hollies. Finally, if you need guidance on how to talk to your kids about sex as a positive part of their lives, check out A Better Way to Teach Kids About Sex.]