All posts tagged: Love

Before We Ever Met, He Tattooed My Name on His Hip

When he got my name tattooed on his hip, we hadn’t met yet. He was 50. I had just turned 30. He had a big job in the city at a law firm, lived on Long Island, and wore tailored suits to work. I assumed he was rich. He sounded rich. I was working as a telephone dominatrix from my ramshackle apartment deep in Jersey City and had just filed for bankruptcy. His voice was measured, wise. I liked him more than the others and more than I was supposed to. My voice on the phone, was confident, lulling — often just a whisper. It was one of my trademarks and how I controlled them. I was good at it. The other women on the line thought the guys would spend more money on you if you yelled at them. They were mostly wrong. One of my best clients, a shy music professor from England who had six pet rats, left me five stars and this comment on my site one time: “I’d sell my …

Life Blindsided Me And Then I Learned to See.

One Sunday afternoon about fifteen years ago, I wandered into a panel discussion at The Brooklyn Public Library just as Carmen Boullousa, the Mexican poet and novelist, was being asked a question. “How do you write?” the questioner asked. Carmen Boullousa threw her hands up in the air and slammed them down the table in front of her. “You don’t know what you’re doing!” she burst forth, with a shout and a laugh. “You start off blinded, and you work until you begin to see.” I was 37 or 38 at the time, with a husband and two young daughters doing whatever they were doing in our Prospect Heights brownstone a few blocks away. And for as long as I could remember, I’d been trying to connect life’s dots with a modicum of elegance and a minimum of fuss. Determined to press on, to be a trooper, to feign competence, to not give passport, ever, to a willingness to be blinded. Carmen Boullousa was talking about writing but I sensed her advice might help me …

That Last Day I Ever Trusted My Father

I trusted my father to always do the right thing because he constantly barked at my sister and me about how hard he was working for us to have a good home, go to good schools, go to college, etc. My father was the first Black man ever hired at Western Electric in their managerial program. He did a lot of good, helping other Black folks get jobs, being the President of the NAACP chapter, and integrating the Kiwanis and Lions civic organizations. In hindsight, though, there were signs I shouldn’t have trusted him as much as I did. He was of the generation of men who did not cry and were not affectionate with their family. From the time I was four years old, I knew that he and my mother didn’t have a very loving relationship. When I was five, I remember being awakened by a huge fight they had one night. They were yelling at each other, and she grabbed a giant glass ashtray and tried to smash him in his head …

He’s 25. I’m 53. What Could Go Wrong?

“Make my day go from good to great and tell me you don’t mind that I’m 25, not 45.” Oh, this old trick. Present yourself as a Gen-Xer when you’re really a millennial. I understand of course; my age, in the universe of dating apps, is a moving target. I have the slightest amount of empathy. Slight enough to answer him back at 1:30am instead of falling asleep. Like middle-aged humans do. “You’re closer in age to my daughter than you are to me.” Dating-wise, the formula I’m fond of applying is half my age plus seven. I’m 53. Even with my Bumble age — 46 — this 25-year-old doesn’t make the cut. Unless I make an exception. We’re playing the same game, after all. The liberal age gap. He generously adds 20 years to his age, I’m mindfully lowering mine and we’re both hoping that somewhere along this sliding scale we’ll each get what we want. “I find you very sexy. I don’t care about your age or mine. I want to get to …

The Magic of the Bitch and Swap

Long ago in the 1990s, when I was a freelance magazine writer, I never had enough of anything — money, love, other people, and of course, clothing. I worked alone in my West Village apartment and most of my reporting was done by telephone. I rigorously scheduled social engagements at night, from dates to drinks with a friend, or a book party or reading or a real party or a fake PR party at a handbag store. If I didn’t speak to a real person face to face at least once a day, I felt myself fading from the human race. It was a time of living between no money, some money and family-begged money. I was actually fairly successful as a writer, but felt like an abject, obvious failure. I was consumed with fear that I would never meet a man whom I could marry and who would marry me. The latter was the bigger fear. It was a terribly lonely and scary stretch of years, despite the many, many parties. It was good, …

25 Years Later, Adventures with My Husband Are Just Getting Started

“What’s the Australian equivalent of Ibuprofin?” I asked my husband, handing him Band-Aids out of a medicine chest in a hut in the middle of the Tasmanian wilderness. “Is it paracetamol?” I said, flipping through various tiny white medicine packets stored in a Dixie cup. My husband winced and limped back to a bench to tend to his blistered feet. He’d been pretending they weren’t bothering him, but four days and almost 40 miles into our traverse of Tasmania’s Overland Track, his feet weren’t playing along. “Hey, your legs are still bleeding from the leeches,” he said, pointing to the rivulets that traced their way down my left calf. We’d learned that leeches secrete a chemical to prevent your blood from clotting while they fill up. You can’t feel them latch onto you and it doesn’t hurt to have them there, but once they fill up and drop off it, it takes ages for the bleeding to stop. “I know,” I said, dapping at the blood with a tissue. “Those little Tasmanian bastards.” It was the …

How to Lose at Wife-Carrying, and Win at Marriage

Author and journalist Jo Piazza had no idea what to do when she got engaged. She was terrified of taking on the role of someone’s wife. To figure it out, she traveled to 20 countries on five continents for her new memoir, How to Be Married: What I Learned From Real Women on Five Continents About Surviving My First (Really Hard) Year of Marriage. Told in honest prose with astute reporting, the book is a survival guide for the first year of marriage. The following is an adapted excerpt from the book. Most dating advice given to newlyweds is horrible. Maybe not horrible, but at least not terrifically helpful. It’s like the people writing the advice wrote sitcoms in the ‘80s where the laugh track covered the sadness and every problem was fixed in 28 minutes, including commercials. There’s a lot of “don’t forget to have a date night,” and “never go to bed angry,” and “say ‘I love you’ at least once a day.” In other words, there’s a lot of bullshit. In the …

I Got You — Caring for My Wife During Chemo

As my wife sat in the treatment room during chemotherapy, she would sometimes sing to me a song that became a sort of anthem for us. Headphones on, she’d hum and sing, “We ain’t gonna give up on this now, we refuse to turn around. This won’t be easy, no way, no how, but we won’t back down…” The song was ”We Got It” by Ne-Yo from The Wiz, one of those live TV musical events we’d watched together after her surgery back in 2015. In some ways, she was Dorothy and I was some unfortunate combination of the Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion. I would chime in, “And when the night is so cold, dark and lonely, All you got to do is look at me and hear what I say…” And then together we would sing, “We got it! We got it!” “I got you…” I got you. When Margit asked me to share my experience as a “caregiver” during her treatment, I felt a bit uncomfortable. I saw it as …

The Precarious World of Online Dating After 50

  “You’re cute, do you have a younger sister?” “Hi there, what is your sexual appetite?” “Can I fist you? Women in their 20s and 30s don’t like to be fisted?” “How bout a full-body massage in exchange for a shoulder rub? “No way you’re THAT old” “I have mommy syndrome and would be heaven going down on you” That’s just a random, word-for-word sampling of the text messages I get from my online suitors. No kidding — these are their opening salvos. You’d think men would have matured by this time. In fact, the opposite is true. To be honest, I never would have imagined that I’d be single post-50, without kids and attempting to date in New York City. But, alas, this is my predicament. Independent, financially secure and very, very single. And it’s challenging. I often equate quality single men over the age of 45 to the endangered species list updated nationally by the government. Where are they hiding? Certainly not on the dating apps/sites I have tried over the last two-plus …

Honoring the Women in My Maternal Battalion

Technically, my godmother is some white lady. Those three words are literally all I know about her: some, white, lady. And it took some digging for me to even get that little bit of information from my parents. At first, I sent my mom a text message that simply asked, “Who is my godmother?” Her reply: “I can’t remember. Curtis will remember.” So, I called my dad (Curtis) and he said, “I don’t think you have one. I don’t think your mother believed in godmothers.” Then, of course, I called my mom to verify my dad’s theory. And, of course, she disagreed. “That’s not true,” she said. “You have a godmother. Your godmother is some white lady who your father knew when we lived in Baltimore.” [pullquote]Just because we grown-ups don’t need legal guardians doesn’t mean we don’t still need support from people who are more grown-up than we are and who can step in when our parents cannot be there.[/pullquote] I considered calling my father back with the new “some white lady” clue to …

Pain in the Present Tense

For me, failure is a feeling. It’s a heavy weight in my stomach. I get hazy and lightheaded.  Things start to slow down. Lately I feel very heavy. When I feel this, I retreat. I isolate. I pick apart all the moments, actions, words that led to this particular moment and I evaluate them, polish them, put them in a line like dominos and knock them all down with one touch, only to pick them up and reorder them again. Glennon Doyle Melton, the author of Love Warrior, wrote something that caught my attention the other day and resonated with me. She said: “We have to choose carefully where we do our truth-telling… If you are going to share widely – make sure you’re sharing from your scars, not your open wounds….When we truth tell widely in real time, it’s alarming to people because it can feel more like a cry for help than an act of service. You have to be still with your pain before you can offer it up and use it to serve …

I Was “Breakup Girl,” And Then My Job Dumped Me

This will not endear me to you: Until my mid-20s, I was convinced that I was special — that my life was actually charmed. That was the through line to my life story: Things just went my way. Hard work paid off. I earned good grades, had halfway normal parents and halfway decent boyfriends. My high school graduation speaker was Gloria Fucking Steinem. I got into Yale. I had the time of my life. I had an amazing dog named Montsi — a gorgeous white shepherd/tundra wolf mix who was my protector and soul sister. My books got published. I always had cool, land-in-your-lap life-changing experiences, like living and bonding with a family and “sister” in Mexico who looked just like me — whom I’m still friends with — and lucking into an awesome apartment with my best friend in Boston and winding up on both Geraldo and Ricki Lake in 1994, just because I looked exactly like Tonya Harding, which is a long story. It wasn’t that things never went wrong. They did. All …

He Said, She Said: What Adulting With Money is Really Like

Honest hour: Adulting isn’t easy. And when it involves a significant other and money, it becomes a thousand times harder. Let me give you an example: In 2016, the self-improvement industry raked in almost $10 billion, according to neuroscience site Brainblogger. My purchases of podcasts, books and membership sites accounted for 10 percent of that figure. I’m may be exaggerating a little, but one thing is for sure: Advice books tell you to keep communication channels open and discuss issues, concerns and, most importantly, “feelings” when navigating your financial map in marriage, but they don’t tell you how wildly different your perspectives on spending can be from your spouse. Seth Herzog is a successful NYC comic, actor and producer. He is also my husband. I am an author, built a booming retail research business and have a production company.  What follows is an oral history of a week’s worth of spending and financial transactions in our household: What does it mean to be “poor?” My take is very different from Seth’s. Seth: You are talking …

Faith in Boys, Bikes and Wallpaper

I had all kinds of faith when I was a kid. Faith in Christmas presents, in the sweetness and chaos of my brother, in pathological lip-gloss reapplication, in swimming pools, in ketchup all over everything, in my bike. I had faith that my mother would remain fierce and beautiful and my father funny. I had faith that I could be those things if I paid attention. I would cherry-pick and incorporate. Season myself to taste. I would control myself. Everyone thinks they can do this. I didn’t know that then. But I had faith that concentrating really hard was the answer. Sometimes I notice myself being the things that they are, all kinds of things, and their voices are suddenly inside me, finding their way out. I’m surprised every time. Like I’ve belched in public. I have faith it doesn’t show. Did you read that on my face? I’m very good at not showing. I ask all the questions. I have faith that asking all the questions will fill me up. My story and others …

Post-Election Do’s and Don’ts: Everyday Tips to Be a Better Human

DO: Engage in conversations, even if they’re difficult. Be mindful of your spending; vote with your dollar. Have coffee or share a meal with someone who you think is different from you. If you see someone being harassed, use your privilege to protect them. Do your own research by reading independent journalists and non-mainstream media. Speak up. Document hate crimes and hate speech. Make an effort to smile at someone; it could turn their day around and make them feel less lonely. Educate yourself on issues of racial justice. Challenge your thinking and behavior. Amplify voices that may not be mainstream. Be mindful in your consumption. Get to know your neighbors. Build your local community. — Suzan Bond and Kia M. Ruiz. Suzan Bond is a Fast Company contributor and the founder of Bet On Yourself, which supports independent internet creators through business, marketing, and branding strategy.  Kia M. Ruiz is a environmental and consumer resource consultant. You can read more of her writing at Bodhibear.net.   DON’T: Assume that you can pick up stakes and move to Canada. Or New Zealand. Or anywhere else. If you’re serious about becoming an expat, form a logical plan and know that …

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My Very Public Online Fling

After my divorce, I was as broken as a tree branch after a storm. Luckily, I found a female comrade — on Twitter of all places — who was healing from her own divorce. Our digital friendship blossomed into a long-distance digital romance. We sent corny notes to each other on instant messenger and kisses over Skype. After a few months of online communication, Cate (not her real name) suggested that we meet in real life. One caveat — she lived in New Zealand. After much thought, I decided to seize the day and off I went to catch my Air New Zealand flight. The exterior of the plane was decorated with characters from The Lord of the Rings movie, which was filmed in New Zealand. Like Frodo Baggins, I was off on an adventure. My trip to New Zealand has all the elements of a Harlequin romance: Cate was beautiful. New Zealand was stunning. The clouds were as white and fluffy as cotton; you wanted to grab a piece from the sky and feel …

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10 Books To Have an Affair with This Summer

Choosing books that represent “Fling” is a challenge due to the word’s definition. A “fling,” after all, is “a short period of enjoyment or wild behavior.” Many novels about sexual side stories focus instead on affairs because they last longer and often morph into difficult and tragic tales. That’s the case with the titles on this list — but each of them includes enjoyment and wild behavior, too. Any — or, better yet, several — of these will add fun and a little scorch to your vacation reading. Among them: A women bent on revenge who also has a taste for orgies, a secret affair by the sea, lovers with a connection to the real Casablanca, and a sort of Sliding Doors fantasy about love’s possibilities. 1. If you’re hooked on scandi-crime: All In by Simona Ahrnstedt You may not have thought a novel about “Sweden’s financial elite” would make its way to the top of your to-be-read pile, but look out — Ahrnstedt’s U.S. debut is smart and smoldering, using an affair between cutthroat …

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Mr. Knightley Is Not on Tinder

Newly single, I have, at the urging of friends, downloaded dating apps on my iPhone. On more than one occasion, I’ve found myself in some dark hole of the internet and wondered if I was an unknowing participant in a secret Cindy Sherman project where she’s disguised herself as red-eyed, heavily jowled men sitting next to sedated tigers or at the finish line of Tough Mudders. Those first few swipes felt odd. Throw in a married dad from my son’s elementary school and a few minutes of swiping left made me want to wash my hands. I’ve been guilty of having a few laughs at the expense of these dating prospects. I’ve screenshot their most awkward profile photos to share with friends, and I’ve attended Lane Moore’s Tinder Live Show. When I was first single and my friends would ask me what I was looking for, I would tell them straight up that I wanted someone with integrity. A strong moral compass. Their replies were varied versions of “Good luck with that.” I’ve also mentioned this …

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No, I Don’t Date. Here’s Why

“Dating anyone?” It’s typically the third question I’m asked by people I haven’t talked to in a while. It comes up right after “how’s work?” and “where have you travelled to lately?” Me: “No one.” Them: “Oh, you’ll find someone.” Me: “But I’m not looking.” (Blank stares.) It’s not that I’m opposed to meeting someone. I just don’t feel it’s necessary. In my 20’s I did, but now I look back and recognize that was probably due to of pressure. My parents expected me, as their oldest daughter, to be the first to get married. Since they married in their early 20’s, I sent them into a panic when I wasn’t married as I approached 29. I couldn’t even mention a man around them without having to crush their bud of hope. “John? Who is that?” “A coworker.” “Is he single?” “Yes, but he has boyfriend.” [pullquote]I’ve often been asked, “Aren’t you afraid of being alone when you’re old?” Given the current divorce rates, aren’t you? [/pullquote] Most of my friends were getting married then; …

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Margit’s Note: An Affair to Remember

A fling means nothing. A dare. A tossed-away kiss. A happy mess you got yourself into. Temporary and mindless. It’s just a fling, after all. In the very last year of the 1980s, right after college was over, I had a purposeful fling — an oxymoron, but so it was. C and I stuck around State College. He waited tables at Ye Olde College Diner (that’s really the name); I worked at the college paper and the local department store — and we had no idea what we were going to do for the rest of our lives. We were both in the mood for temporary. Somehow we knew we weren’t made for each other, but a fling is a chance to be someone else. What a delight! Several mix tapes, deep kisses, boozy nights at Zeno’s and a month-long bout of mono later… A fling is exciting until it’s not exciting. And then, yikes. But even if the result of a fling is feeling a little too flung, the lasting memories  — and at the …

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Margit’s Note: Everyday America

The driver from Enterprise picked us up at our hotel in Richmond, Virginia to bring us to the rental car office. We were on our way down south to North Carolina for our annual summer beach vacation with my husband’s family. Five minutes into our trip, I asked the driver, “Can you believe what’s happening?” Given Baton Rouge, Minnesota, Dallas — given that our driver was black — he didn’t need any more detail to know what I meant. He shook his head. “Let me tell you a story…” He proceeded to explain that he was part of a car club and was recently pulled over by a state trooper for going five miles over the speed limit. At which point the entire flotilla of cars pulled over — all 40 of them — and the state trooper got a little nervous. “Who are all these people?” He told our driver that he and his car club friends needed to move along or he’d give each and every one of them a ticket. “If I …

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In Praise of the Midlife Crisis — on a Motorcycle

We should avoid excess risk as we age. So says conventional wisdom. After all, it takes longer to heal a bone broken learning to ski in our 50s than in our 20s. There won’t be time to regain a financial loss suffered past our early 40s if we become too aggressive with our investments. Going back to school later in life to embark on a new career seems a waste of time and energy. And don’t get me started on those folks who leave long-term marriages for the greener pastures of a new relationship. I believed all these things. Until, at age 48, I fell in love with a matte black, brawny beast of a machine. I took a motorcycle safety class as research for a book I was writing and surprised myself with the depth of feeling that burbled up. My father was dying at the time and I felt entombed in a marriage that, after 25 years, had lost all its verve. I had raised three on-the-cusp-of-adulthood children, served as a professor of …

I Left My New York Apartment For Life on a Boat

Three weeks ago, I sailed away from New York City. I cast off the lines from our 37-foot sloop and left New York harbor for the East River, along with my husband and dog. In that moment, and without much ceremony, we were no longer New Yorkers. The moment we left the dock, we became full-time sailors with no homeport to call us back. This wasn’t a longtime dream. We’re not lifelong boaters. Nor did we come from wealth or retire early on some startup exit. My husband, Jon, and I are simply wanderers. We spent years wanting something else. This is our else. Before moving to New York two years ago, Jon and I met through our love of travel. After a couple of years of dating, we each began working without an office, for a total of about five years, sometimes running a business together, sometimes working separately. This wasn’t gig economy work but rather leadership positions for traditional companies that were trying a new format of working. And it worked. I completely …

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Learning About Bravery from My 10-Year-Old Daughter

I watch my daughter come out of a long, twisting water slide, arms thrown out triumphantly, eyes and mouth wide open, soaring for a moment through space before crashing into the pool with a loud splash. We are on a two-week family road trip and are at a hotel pool. She turned 10 just a few days into the journey. And she is brave. I’m afraid of water slides and afraid of this one. I marvel at how one moment, my daughter can be fearless, climbing to the top of a water slide and jumping into it without a second thought, laughing all the way down and going back up and down again. Then the next moment, she wants to be held, comforted and protected. At one truck stop on the trip, she strides into the convenience store, insisting that she can go to the restroom on her own. My eyes dart vigilantly about as I try not to follow her too closely, try to give her a wide enough berth so she doesn’t feel …

Prince Taught Me My Dirty Mind Was Just Fine

Prince was the first man I ever loved. When I heard Prince’s first album, For You, I was a chubby 12-year-old girl with thick thighs, an ample rear and a dirty mind. I was an honor student whose tendency to correct my teachers and point out their flawed logic in class got me called to the principal’s office for insubordination. I was the girl the boys in school either ignored or called fat, while men in cars drove behind me as I walked home, shouting out of cranked-down windows what they’d like to do to my pre-teen ass. I sat next to my dad on the sofa every weekend, watching sports with him while quietly lusting over the quads and abs and glutes of my favorite players. As the youngest of six kids, I read everything my siblings read, from their biology textbooks to porn magazines, and I listened to all the music they listened to, from hard rock to jazz to pop to easy listening to R&B. Musically and culturally, I was ready for …

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The New Man in My Life — My Retired Spouse

“What are you up to today?” This is the question that my husband and I often ask each other over our morning coffee. For most of our 28-year marriage, I knew what my physician husband would be up to — he’d been doing the same things since the day we met. He would be running miles through hospital corridors, performing colonoscopies and liver biopsies. He’d be delivering good news as well as life-changing-in-an-instant bad news. He’d be awakened from a sound sleep and summoned to the emergency room to deal with a “bleeder.” He was dealing in life and death, every day and night. But for the past year, since his retirement, his agenda has taken an almost unrecognizable turn. Now, when I ask that morning question, his answer will startle me. “I’m going to meditate. Do my stretching routine. Maybe go for a bike ride up in the park. Take a nap. Go to the aquarium shop. Read a little.” Who is this guy? I barely recognize him. But I like him. Before he …

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Asked and Answered: How the Universe Provided My Dream Guy

January’s East Coast blizzard, now manifested in little more than a few snow piles that continue to lull me into thinking there are more parking spots up ahead at the local Target, brought back memories of the Blizzard of 1996. As the weather ‘bots on TV attempted to roil up panicked shopping at The Home Depot, recollections of that monumental snow dump informed many of my decisions in preparing for the blizzard of 2016. While checking on generator fuel and access to the snow shovel (try digging out your shovel when it’s across the yard and all you have on hand is a large spatula), I marveled at how my circumstances have changed in the interim between storms. In 1996, I was recently divorced, confused and in terrible psychic pain. What I can now blithely refer to as my “starter marriage” had gone horribly wrong after I had ignored one of the basic tenants of relationship advice, which is to actually listen to what your partner is telling you. My ex-husband had made no bones about …

What It Really Feels Like To Be 25 in 2016

Before you get swept up in the nostalgia of your own quarter-life crisis (crap bosses, three roommates, teeny tiny apartment, bottle service clubs, falafel at 4 a.m., hot dates), there are some women I want you to meet. These girls are living the 2016 version, where hookups are negotiated on Tinder, the boss is just as likely to be a girl who graduated a year ahead and likes using her newfound power to make you feel small and there’s not a single boozy brunch that isn’t documented on Instagram to elicit FOMO among all your followers. So while you’ve been there, there are a few things that 25(ish)-year-olds want to clear up for the older generation about what their lives are really like. It’s Sorta Lonely “On a recent, teary phone call with my mom about feeling stuck at work, I said, ‘I need to let myself cry about this, and when I’m done crying, I need someone to pick me up and help me figure out what to do. But I don’t know who …

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margit

Over the last three years, my body has slowly closed up shop. Four months between periods, then six, then almost a full year. So, I guess we’re done here. It’s a weird, bittersweet feeling — no more bloats, stains and mishaps. I’ve started to feel as if I’ve floated into another galaxy, where most of my friends are still on Planet Menses. That one time a year when it does arrive, it’s cause for a minor celebration. I secretly tell myself, maybe, just maybe at 47, I could still have a kid. Even though I know it’s a distant, nearly improbable concept. I do have a few friends who’ve had planned kids at 45 or even second and third “oops” kids at 45-plus — one, in fact, who grabbed me by the proverbial collar the other day, glared at me and said, “what have I done?!?” [pullquote]I’d never once fantasized about the perfect family, being a mom, spending time packing up carrot sticks in plastic baggies. That was, until I met my wonderful husband, who would, unquestionably, be …

Madonna’s Most Beautiful Love Song

In 1985, I was 16 years old and spent my weekend nights cruising the streets of Kansas City in my 1979 Fiat Strada. I realize now that a four-door hatchback is not every teenage girl’s dream, but I loved that car because it was mine, because it gave me freedom, and because it had a really great stereo system. I spent most of the money from my part-time job on cassette tapes that would become the soundtrack of my teenage years—The Bangles, the Go-Go’s, Cyndi Lauper and Madonna. I was a straight girl back then, though my interest in the women of pop music should have probably been a clue. It wasn’t, however, and it took me years to figure it all out. Now, when I look back on my deep feelings for each of those women, I ask myself one question: Did I want to be them or did I want to do them? This is a very important distinction. Upon much reflection, I can say without a doubt that I wanted to do …