I still listen to the radio often when I drive, mostly for the rush of stumbling across a song I love among the commercials. Missing in our current world of all-media-on-demand-all-the-time is the element of surprise I found when I was flipping stations the other night and came across Madonna’s “Crazy for You”.
It’s high on my mental list of songs I have to listen to all the way through; I’ll sit in the parking lot and sing to the end before I’ll go inside. It’s 30 years old this year.
It’s the power ballad from Vision Quest, a movie I recall nothing about except for the snippets I can remember from the video – Matthew Modine doing pushups, wrestling, then kissing Linda Fiorentino and her enormous hair, like a knock-off Kevin Bacon from Footloose destined for trouble, dissonantly interspersed with Madonna in her best tousled hair, black bracelets and scarves as a bar singer emoting the crap out of “Crazy for You.” I was 14 in 1985, a huge fan with a single huge cross earring and armful of black plastic bracelets, and I loved the song as much as I did not love the film.
She was far from being Madge yet; I knew her as Madonna Louise Ciccone, a Catholic school girl like I still was. She escaped that life, and her songs spoke to every single thing I knew nothing about but got the impression I wanted to learn.
MTV was still all about the music, but we didn’t have it at our house, so I scrounged views of “Borderline” and “Crazy for You” on Friday Night Videos and a knockoff afternoon video show called Hot. I sang “I’ve never wanted anyone like this, it’s all brand new, I’m crazy for you” like my teenaged heart would break — a late-bloomer teenager with no real grip yet on what the lyrics might possibly mean. I did a lot of singing and, um, interpretive dancing in my room then, singing this song among many others, holding an imaginary microphone, raising my arm as seductively in the air as Madonna did for real on screen (at least in my mind).
Trying hard to control my heart, I walk over to where you ar-ar-are….Eye to eye we need no words at allllllllll……
As the same lyrics tripped across my brain on a loop all day last week, I accidentally considered the meaning as well as the sound. I allowed the realization to slip through that 30 years later, singing along in a Honda CRV with empty coffee cups at my feet and a schedule to keep, with an MTV available to me at home that gives me very little that I actually want to watch, I still want “Crazy for You” love. I concluded also that I’m not so sure I’m happy about this.
I think about deep things at stoplights sometimes. But it suddenly it bothers me that I’m sitting inside of an adult life largely comprised of obligations and self-propulsion, clearing up the aftermath of some missteps – while still enjoying a bunch of grace and good friends and a support network that has evolved into something really amazing over the past few years.
I’ve been single for a long time, a necessary state while I patched up some things. If aortas could be interviewed about break-ups, they’d probably send us all to the convent because hearts can get tired. I haven’t allowed myself to think about the possibility of love for awhile, not in a self-pitying way as much as for practicality and self-preservation. I have crushes that come out of nowhere from time to time that remind me I’m alive, but the specific realness of love has not been a thing. I like people as much as I ever did. I cop to wanting to skip to having someone around to read the paper and go to movies with and kiss. Kissing is nice. But I understand now how hard it is to match that up in a way that makes sense for two human beings, especially in the mid-40s when everyone has been hurt to some degree, especially if they’re not already solidly partnered. There’s no way to avoid it unless you’ve been hiding all this time, and most of the people I hang with have been out there in the trenches for decades.
[pullquote]Do expectations have to get lower now? Does wary and a little bit gun shy mean not crazy for you?[/pullquote]
Do expectations have to get lower now? Does wary and a little bit gun shy mean not crazy for you? Does one bad run with your personal Sean Penn mean you’re going to hang out in the yoga studio forever and like it that way? I’d like to think that as little as I still know about love, especially finding a romantic relationship that will last, that I’m a little bit smarter and a teensy bit more flexible. Along with my involuntary hormonal reactions to, say, a lovely pair of hands or a vocabulary that’s sexy because it’s so, so smart, I want to think this stuff through now. I want a best friend first, right? That’s what the advice from long-term couples always says. This is my best friend. My co-pilot. My partner in crime. (These people never look like they’re doing anything criminal. I guess it’s all in how you spin it.)
I tell myself that I am to go for solid and stable now. Like the woman I worked with once who said she picked her first husband for this and her second husband for that, while she pointed at her heart and her backside where he’d keep his wallet, respectively. I should be like that, maybe. Forty-four should know better than 14, I’d guess, and care about stuff we never cared about at all before, like money and maybe a job. Forty-four knows what trouble awaits when the room starts swaying, especially six months or years later.
Except deep down I know I don’t really know how to be like that. Like in that part towards the end of the song, that bridge to the chorus where she sings beyond her lung capacity, “You feel it in my kiss, you feel it in my kiss because I’m crazy for you, touch me once and you’ll KNOW IT’S TRUE,” really fast like she means it, like her life depends on it, and then she sighs out the end? It’s like that.
Crazy For You love is stupid and misguided, and I know better than to expect it. I would barely know what to do with it if it showed up. The glimpses I’ve had of it over the years should be enough to convince me it was a bad idea, no matter how much the aftermath hurts. Maybe.
But that’s what I want. I just heard it on my radio.