Panorama of San Bernardino

Sunday, September 30, 2012

On being Belinda and other fantasies of childhood

When I was in the last stages of elementary school (circa 1981), the Go-Go's were my favorite group.

My dad had a huge laser disc player, a precursor to a DVD player, and each disc must have weighed five pounds.  The laser disc came in a huge sleeve about one and a half times the size of a vinyl record.  My dad went to a place in Pomona to rent the discs.  On one such trip, my dad surprised us when he bought the laser disc of the Go-Go's live in concert singing their first album "Beauty and the Beat".  Although I am not a music critic, I think it is undisputed that "Beauty and the Beat" is an album that still holds up today.

The album is pop punk.  The album has a host of great songs including "We Got the Beat" (every school kid's anthem), "This Town" (life in the big city), "Fading Fast" (the consummate bad relationship song) and "Our Lips Are Sealed" which was the theme song of me and my sisters who were constantly mortified in front of the neighbors by my parent's fighting.

"Can you hear them talk about us, telling lies, well that's no surprise. Can you see them, see right through them.  They have no shields, no secrets to reveal.  Doesn't matter what they say, in the jealous games people play."

As if it was a minute ago rather than thirty years, I can picture myself in the living room of our house on Glenn street in Ontario, California.   I am singing into a hairbrush and dancing wearing a long skirt with a loose shirt.  A silver bangled belt is slung over my hips.  My hair is curly just like Belinda Carlisle's (the lead singer).

My twin sister Jackie is playing guitar on a tennis racket mimicking the moves of Jane Wiedlin and Charlotte Caffey and Annie is playing the drums off beat (unlike Gina Schock who was always on beat) on the end table with silverware. No one ever wanted to be Kathy Valentine.

We had a tamborine and I would always use it on the song "Automatic".   I would shake my head like Belinda and shrug my shoulders in time with the music moving the tamborine up and down at my side while I mouthed the words,  "Inside fire burning bright...  Time stop.  Automatic."

Being Belinda was my way of imagining that another life existed.

At age six, I used to read my mom's Harlequin romance novels and dream of being a heiress or a ward.  This scarred me for life romantically and caused my first grade teacher to wonder aloud why I knew the word "ravished".  Later, I daydreamed myself into being Scarlet O' Hara.  Then Belinda.

Everyone wanted to be Belinda.  She was the epitome of coolness.  Of course, as a child I didn't know her dark side: the drugs, the insecurities and the rabble rousing.  Or maybe subconsciously I did.  Aren't all cool kids at least a little bit dark?

When I hear a Go-Go's song it transports me quicker than any time machine could.    I morph from a forty something lawyer to a tween lip syching with a hairbrush in her hand.

It brings back the good memories of my sisters and I rocking out and it brings back the melancholy memories of sitting in the park with a book wondering when my dad was going to get home and if my mom was still screaming.

I think that is why I love the Go-Go's so much.  Their music while up tempo is very bittersweet most of the time.

Just like life.