Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Practical Love Songs

You don’t have to wait for Valentine’s Day to hear your radio upchuck a mushy mix of musical malarkey. As you flip from station to station, you’ll recognize one dominant theme; love. Money is an obsession on country and hip-hop radio (country about lacking it, hip-hop about rolling in it), but coinage jingles seldom journey beyond these two formats. Hard to imagine a soft rock single with a chorus about cash: “This dollar in my pocket says ‘In God We Trust,’ like I trust in you-U-U (cue artificial horn section).”

Not only do all stations pump love themes, they tend to be the same types of love themes; new love, dying love, unrequited love, loveboat. You rarely hear a song about practical love. I’m still waiting for a track that sings, “I hate ya girl, but I can’t pay both halves of the rent.“

A practical love song wouldn’t have to be that cynical, though. It could just describe authentic love encounters; the pointy logistics of real relationships rather than the Shakespearean, pie-in-the-sky portraits standard love songs paint for us.

Men with bruised egos often come to me seeking advice. Rather than give them rubber-stamped sympathy about “plenty of fish in the sea” or “those cankles portended bad things down the road,” I prescribe practical romance songs to help them through their troubles. A particularly educative tune is “B.B.D. (I Thought It Was Me)?” by Bell Biv Devoe:

I went out, last night
See, that's when I met a sexy girl
She was lookin' so right
She said, "I wanna take you for a trip around the world"

(I thought it was me) - I thought it was me who makes the girl this way
(I thought it was me) - I came to find out she's like that every day
(I thought it was me) - I thought it was me that makes that girl so wild
(I thought it was me) – I found out she's like that with all the guys

This New Jack fable says it all. Too many young men believe they possess a unique ability to ignite “the crazy” in women. They strut around convinced that each girl they seduce is normally a specimen of immovable frigidity. But when this godsend touches her, blind instinct takes over and l-o-o-k o-u-t…she can’t help but do crazy things! He then confidently reports back to his idiot pals about how he magically transformed her from “I don’t think so” to “Ay Papi!” You occasionally catch 40-year-olds spewing similar garbage, but their tone is transparent. It is the same wounded inflection they use when pretending to like coaching their daughter’s soccer team. They only recite the lie because they know if they don’t try to believe it, they’ll retreat to the shed with a fifth of Jack and a barrel of sleeping pills.

The vast majority of men cannot comprehend that it is every girl’s M.O. to convince you she doesn’t do “this” all the time. Why might that be? So she won’t seem like a whore who does “this” all the time. Of course she wants to downplay her experience. Of course she wants to make it seem like she is usually hyper-inhibited. And the best way to make her story stick is to wrap it up in effusive praise of her lover’s supposed one of a kind prowess.

When I was 19 and 20, I probably had similar delusions, and probably believed the delusions of my friends. I have now tiptoed past 30, but because 28 is the new 19, I am still hearing guys my age share sex tales with that same chunkhead bravado they should have outgrown long ago.

Gentlemen: You are embarrassing yourselves, your friends, the sex acts you are describing, and the ancient tradition of storytelling. Remember:

(I thought it was me) - I thought it was me that makes that girl so wild
(I thought it was me) – I found out she's like that with all the guys

Too bad post-sex chats aren’t conducive to speaking plainly. This is the one time a man might actually learn something from hearing a woman say, “It’s not you, it’s me.”

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