I can barely remember the square root of pi, but you play me any song from between 1976 and 1993*, and if I know it, I will probably be able to tell you about the first time I heard it, or a memory I have attached to it. I remember dancing to Frankie Goes to Hollywood at a Cistercian/Ursuline mixer, and feeling like I was in the best moment of my life–like no moment could ever be so perfect as those throbbing three minutes out on the dance floor. I felt in my element, in my black capezios, black cigarette pants, black t-shirt and my father’s old olive green based, plaid blazer. (And my fedora. Hush. It was the 80s, and I couldn’t decide if I wanted to look like Molly Ringwald or Nick Rhodes.)
I was at least right that no other moment at that dance would be so perfect. Madonna’s Crazy for You came on, and a boy asked me to slow dance. He had one hand in the small of my back, pulling me close, but something in his pocket was grinding uncomfortably against my hip bone. I tried to shift away, but then whatever it was just poked harder. He was smiling goofily, and I thought surely whatever was poking me was poking him, too, and finally just asked him to move his car keys because they were hurting me.
He said, “I don’t have any keys.”
I said, “Whatever you’ve got in your pocket then,” trying to round out my lower spine to get my hips away from his.
There came this tornado of confusion, anger, embarrassment, and misunderstanding across his face, and he shoved me backwards by my shoulders, shouting, “You’re stupid!”
Technically, I was ignorant, not stupid. I shared the encounter with a guy friend a few days later, and he doubled over laughing. “Don’t you know what a boner is?”
Well, I did after that, didn’t I?
I find it hilariously apropos that my first encounter with an erection came courtesy of Madonna.
*In 1993, I went full-zealot and cut out all secular media. Between 1993 and 1998, if it wasn’t on the Christian station, I didn’t hear it. If not for the radio on blast at work, I would have missed the Spice Girls entirely! Thank god for that radio at work. Otherwise, I would have no idea how to zig-a-zig-aah.