I see in the paper Morrissey will be in concert here on Tuesday.
Ah Morrissey… I own a piece of the man’s shirt you know :-). A very close close-up of it is right to the right there.
He threw the clothing into the audience at the last concert of his I attended (about 16 years ago!). The crowd pounced on that quarry and my friend tore off a piece. We split the bit he snatched, as per our pre-concert agreement. Now, that sounds insane, but the mood of the place was insane. When we left that place I can remember looking down at the pile of disregarded seating, metal chairs, some even bent by the crowd. I wasn’t proud for my actions as part of a wild mob that night, not to mention so much wanting a bit of a stranger’s shirt (stop laughing at me!).
Before I came out, up to middle school, the only music I ever listened to was school approved; that meant classical or hymns. My parents had no rule in the area, but I’d been convinced anything else was right out of Hell. I remember taking the UTA bus home one day in 8th grade and a kid had me listen to his Violent Femmes tape. I debated weather or not to attempt an exorcism on the spot.
That changed a bit when I left the safety of Christian schooling. Friends got me into what would be called classic rock, I guess: The Who, Pink Floyd, etc… I had no idea what the lyrics were actually about, of course, or I’d never have listened. Then I began dating (girls). One girl I dated for quite a while turned me onto more modern music, and one of her favorite bands was The Smiths (No, not a goth girl, just one with a difficult family). But when I first heard The Smiths I was sure Morrissey was of the Devil. I hated the self-centered melancholy and thought I needed to save her from such dark influence; I was righteous that way ;-).
This poor girl would get no help from me though. My orientation was more and more insistent with each micromolar rise of teen hormones in my veins, and our relationship only made the reasons I couldn’t end up on the common path with a woman all too stark. I began a full on campaign against my self. I’d walk miles in the mountains, each step counting off an “I’m not gay.” Sometimes it felt like the desperation could knock me back and pin me down; my chest always felt physically tight with it and I wasn’t sleeping. I began to fear even the drive to school, for the ease that route offered by which I could turn the car off a cliff. I was in no place to have such opportunities, even when I knew I didn’t want them.
Simply, The Smiths began to sound reasonable.
I recalled my Boy’s State story a while ago, where I’d just accepted being gay and was put in the midst of debate to ban gays from Boy’s State, here. I didn’t turn out a hero there either, but by that time the soundtrack to my life had become all Morrissey, all the time. I am the son, I am the heir of nothing in particular… I will live my life as I will undoubtedly die, alone… this is the fierce last stand of all I am..… The rocks below say through your skinny body down, son, but… the hills are alive with celebrate cries… the luck I’ve had could make a good man turn bad… I know I’m unlovable… I want the one I can’t have… Love, peace, and harmony, maybe in the next world…
It was perfect :-). And if I could talk to the front man of The Smiths today, I’d tell him that and, really, with all sincerity. To have some company, even this imagined sort, in a problem no one could ever know about was very important for me. There were no blogs, no support groups I knew of for me, in those days; I was pretty sure I was the only gay kid in my city. And having this false conversation with someone I could only imagine empathized, it was a limited help but it did help get me through those days.
These days, if I ever hear Morrissey, he comes through only when the player is set run randomly through my collection, but when he does come up such sad sentiment often puts a smile on my face. Part of it is for how ridiculous my past self appears to hindsight. How simply I could have resolved all that by coming to my family and friends sooner, instead of wasting so much time feeling sorry for a “curse” I’d blown out of proportion. I look back and it makes me laugh at how serious and dire I felt about my orientation. Don't get me wrong; it is very understandable to be overcome at that perspective, but looking back there is simply a bit of nostalgia and amusement at my misunderstanding, and poor judgment of distance. The greater part of the amusement is found in that distance travelled; that curse that had me physically ill with fear and worries turned into a blessing.
It must have been in the summer of my 17th year when I went home clutching a piece of some stranger’s shirt. I met my Rob that fall and everything changed; a new set of sign posts in my life became as clear as day.
So, it turns out Rubber Ring was a work of prophesy, if not a bit insulting :-). Sure, maybe the most impassionate song was outgrown. Sure, I’m older now and a clever swine, and I’ll not likely be going to another Morrissey concert or buying another CD. But I’ve not forgotten the songs that saved my life, as he’d put it and always far more dramatically than I.
“And when you’re dancing and laughing
And finally living
Hear my voice in your head
And think of me kindly"
Fair enough, Morrissey; you got it. And I hope you're still in the mood to toss your shirt to some other young gay Utahn tomorrow night (if young gays in Utah still know who Morrissey is ;-)). I still love and very much appreciate my little purple piece of memorabilia, though now for very different reasons :-).