Or, a check-in
While interloping at the conference in Milan, I met a very knowledgeable presenter (British) to whom I took an instant liking. It somehow came up that I was writing this series on the Who because I had been listening to them all year. Her knee-jerk reaction was a weirded-out face and a “Why?”
It was very funny. The best return volley I could summon in the moment was “Why not?” But it highlighted a feeling I’ve wrestled with, since beginning to write about them overall and particularly since beginning to pitch magazine editors with more Serious Pieces on them.
Namely…embarrassment. Trying to convince people of the significance of my newfound love for this historically loved band kind of makes me want the ground to swallow me up.
Why should that be? I’m happy to talk out loud to pretty much anybody, paint a picture of what I’m finding most fascinating, watch them watch my eyes light up and my gestures get more animated. I enjoy witnessing these symptoms in others. I think we all appreciate the vitality of the presence of a person who is stirred to passion.
Substituting a written presence for a physical one is another story. The reader gets the ideas with very little context; the writer doesn’t get to charm the way they might hope to with their face or voice. At the sight of my ideas out of context in an email box, I blush and squirm in my seat. I hit send and sign out in a hurry. I can’t look. Oh, you like the Who? So does EVERYBODY EVER. What’s novel about that? The sort of thought that never enters my mind when I read any recommendation in any format, however well-known the subject. I love that people love things. I want to encourage them. As you can see, I don’t always extend that generosity to myself.
Part of it is that it’s so on brand for me. Anybody who knows me is like, duh. They must wonder why they put up with someone so incapable of surprising. But then those who don’t know me have no history to go on, only this seemingly anachronistic fixation. And when it comes to people in positions of editorial power, I’ve got to sell them. Why should you care that I care? To paraphrase the adage, it’s the mortifying ordeal of being known coupled with the mortifying ordeal of being unknown.
Am I uncomfortable with being an open book, with the nagging feeling that I can’t possibly be cool if I’m so predictable? Or with laughing delightedly at every story I encounter about their antics, which confirms that I’ve officially hit adolescence in my mid-to-late twenties? Or with the fact that I find Roger really attractive in Tommy, not because he’s portraying a disabled character but because he allows himself to be pushed and pulled and thrown every which way in an act of total submission that excites my power fantasies, and looks so goddamn pretty doing it? Or with not shutting up about John at least in part because of a different power fantasy that may or may not involve handcuffs? Or with not knowing where my vintage-pop-culture-literary-analysis brain ends, if indeed it has an end? All of the above?
My friends graciously call it ‘radical openness,’ this thing I do. I call it being completely beholden to my desires. Names matter, don’t they?
Anyway. Not to make this whole blog about me. I think I’ll go hide under my bed for a bit. Don’t see me, don’t feel me, and for CRYING OUT LOUD don’t touch me.
Image: tour poster spotted by the author in Angel tube station, London, end of May