When I first heard my first Supremes song as a kid, it was like stepping into a spotlight, one that revealed the sequined covered soul hiding underneath my skin. (Full disclosure: I held a hair brush as a microphone. Oh, and Mom? I broke your kitten heels, putting them back in your closet without fixing them. That’s why they fell off when you stepped into them. Sorry!)
Those first hits of that Holland-Dozier-Holland sound, the divine Miss Diana Ross’s breathy vocals and the knowing, “hey, girl” back-up of Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard packed a wallop that continues to reverberate for me today. It was my first taste of glamour, yes. But it was also my first real understanding of why it is we want to love “The Boy.”
I mean, we could look to our parents as our first real example at what it is to be “coupled.” But, what fun lies in that? My parents were certainly demonstrative towards each other, but they parceled out their love and respect in tidbits. They offered each other little dashes of emotion to spice up the ordinary aspects of the day. A kiss on the cheek, another on the lips, his arm around her shoulders. It was Paul Anka sweet, not Supremes sexy.
In the end, it would be the music and lyrics of Burt Bacharach and Hal David that would comprise my most trusted primer on matters of the heart. Yet, it was the Motown Goddesses known as Diana Ross and the Supremes that would give my heart a voice in expressing the power of yearning, desire and the unforgettable impact of that one perfect kiss.
That first kiss.
It’s the one that makes your hands shake, where every sense and nerve in your body tingles with a carnal desire that renders you speechless. You don’t want that kiss to end, but you’re just as scared to let it go on. You’re powerful and powerless at the same time. Eyes open or shut, mouth closed or with tongue, each second that kiss stays alive validates every damn Supremes song you’ve ever heard. It’s the power of a romantic ideal. It can mend what is broken within because that kiss, especially when its strength is returned in kind, means you have connected profusely with another soul. What happens next, however, is on par with discovering what happens when the song comes to an end.
The teen dreams of girl group pop were sonic blasts of what we often wished happened to us in real life. We weren’t aware that such Ideals are fantasy, but man, a lot of us hold onto these ideals like a wino with a bottle for a long time. While I am not alone in floating in the romantic cloud of the Supremes and all of the other artists of the era that told us “it’s in his kiss,” I finally realized that not every kiss has an endgame. Sometimes a kiss is just that, a kiss. It really is a beautiful thing, though. Especially in those rare moments, where your heart is beating so fast it is like a drum beat. You’re so transported, you really do hear a symphony.
So, how do you not revert back to your teen self, where you were convinced such a kiss meant he was “The Boy?” How do you tap into your grown up rational self? Where you don’t self-sabotage it all by being too eager to communicate, beating him to a retreat to protect your own fragile heart? How do you stop that endless loop of thought where you meet, court, marry and break-up all before you have that second date?
God, why is this all so freakin’ frustrating a dance?
I remember telling my Ex at the beginning of our relationship, not every boy you kiss is going to be “The One.” And it is true, they’re not. I think fear of being alone is a lousy motivator in pursuing someone. It’s like binge eating, where you consume everything just to fill that emotional void. You can’t use people to fix what ails you or complete you in this state. It is an unfair expectation to possess, one that will certainly drive people away. And, if you don’t have a healthier attitude about your heart and your self-esteem, you will perpetuate that vicious cycle anew. The following quote is a testament to the dangers of being impulsive:
“Self-control is the chief element in self-respect. Self-respect is the chief element in courage.” — Thucydides
I think I’ve made great strides in not projecting expectations onto some of the men I’ve met in these last years. No expectations does mean no disappointments. Yet, can I say that it’s hard not to get Carrie Bradshaw’ed away when someone catches me totally off guard? It’s when you witness that certain smile or hear that easy laugh. Oh! And if they possess that tender touch and offer an inviting embrace that tells you, “It’s just you and me, pal?” MELT! I haven’t experienced that in a long while, but it happened to me recently. It’s the kind of stuff that propels you to a keyboard and here I am.
I know it can be all so fleeting, these moments. Yet, having the courage to let them happen is essential. I’ve enjoyed letting this little smile make itself known at stop lights, because it felt so good to let go of “The Eeyore Syndrome.” Too many weeks of having the mean reds can mess a bitch up! I don’t care to know what it means. That’s not this is about. I just want to let this feeling last as long as it is meant to because it is a wonderfully human thing to experience, like hearing that Motown bridge.
Besides, I have finally come to realize the only way for any relationship to take hold is for it to be a mutual want. (Because you can’t hurry love! Boom!)
As I was counseled by my fearless friend Heidi, in order to start a bonfire, you have to cajole the flames. When the time presents itself, just give it a chance to burn, don’t suffocate it. Let those sparks connect and ignite with all that is revealed to be combustible in those first electric moment. If it takes hold, that raging passion we wall want to sing about will grow with intensity. If it doesn’t? Well, you relish the glow of that initial bolt of lightning, because it happened and nothing in the world will ever diminish its impact.
No matter what our age and place in this chaotic world, that gift of making music with someone who cares is one our most defining traits. Never think to yourself, “This is my last chance.” That’s the beautiful thing about symphonies — and the Supremes.
We, too, are all classics that live to be heard from — and kissed — again.
Thursday, November 20. Written and posted from Wayne Avenue Manor in South Pasadena, CA