Fourteen and Forty-One
(From "Love is a Unicorn"-The Sisters Provocateur-2012)
Do you remember the song “1999” by Prince?
“Cuz they say two thousand zero zero, party over,
Oops, out of time.
So tonight we’re going to party like it’s 1999.”
That song came out when I was fourteen years old. I remember doing the math and realizing I was going to be thirty-one in 1999. I cried. I cried because I was going to miss the biggest party of the century. You don’t dance when you’re thirty-one. You don’t make out at midnight. At fourteen, I thought that at thirty-one, for all practical purposes, you were dead.
At fourteen, he introduces you to "A Clockwork Orange" and pot and takes you to a roller rink where he plays hockey. A girl says, “That’s my boyfriend. Which one’s yours?” You point and blush and say, “The one in The Cure tee shirt with the earring and the bi-level haircut.” And you are so proud because he is the raddest dude in the place.
At forty-one, he introduces you to the latest incarnation of his balding buddy’s punk revival band and pain pills, which he needs from decades of irresponsibility and injuries and you need for energy. And he takes you to a skate park that he used to frequent in his bad-ass BMX days. It is filled with teenaged boys on boards and bikes. A woman says, “That’s my kid. Which one’s yours?” You point and blush and say, “The one in The Cure tee shirt with the beer belly and the full beard.” And you are so proud because he is the raddest dude in the place.
At fourteen, you know he is your soul mate because you talk on the phone every night, have both read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and love big dogs.
At forty-one, you know he is your soul mate because you talk all night when you both have to get up early and go to work. And you’ve read everything and he’s read nothing but that doesn’t matter, because he can read you better than a book. And your big dogs are your family and have taken the place of the children you both chose not to have…even together when you were miraculously given that option.
At fourteen, you know he will be a good lover because he has watched porn, and dated a girl two years older, and bites your bottom lip when you kiss.
At forty-one, you know he will be a good lover because you are a good lover and will make certain of it; and he knows his way around when he goes down; and there is a mutual acceptance that neither body is what it used to be, but that experience and commitment can make up for a flat stomach if the lighting is just right. When all else fails, you just crank up "Do It All Night" by Prince.
At fourteen, you get jealous because he keeps a picture of his ex-girlfriend in a shoe box in his closet and still hangs out with her brother.
At forty-one, the ex-girlfriend is an ex-wife who could have been a lingerie model. He loved her so much that he gave her his granny’s heirloom ring, and offered to adopt her daughter, and waited celibate for sixteen months while she served a stiff sentence for a fourth DUI. You fear no man can love that way twice, but you’re willing to suffice with whatever is left, which with him is more than enough.
At fourteen, you dream of a wedding to a pop star or a royal, or both…you’ll marry Prince. You’ll wear a tiara and purple ball gown and ride through the streets to the flower-filled church in a crystal carriage drawn by unicorns. There will be fireworks and, of course, doves. But, not the crying kind. You’ll hold your reception in Milan or on the moon. He'll play a song written especially for you. All your friends will be so jealous, and that’s really all that matters.
At forty-one, you know how hard marriage is and how often it fails. And yet, when you look in his eyes you know that if there were ever a man with whom you could spend forever, it is him. You are way past white. Besides, you know what looks good on you…you’ll wear red. There will be no flower-filled church. Neither of you believes in organized religion, and the best florist in town just happens to be his one-time-lover. Instead of a crystal carriage, you’ll employ a yellow cab to make certain all your drunken friends get home safe…because they will party like it’s 1999.
Yes, I am more in love than I have ever been in my life, even with Prince. For better or worse…because at fourteen, you just think you may be able to die of a broken heart. At forty-one, you know you actually can.