I get it, Annie.

Yesterday I dusted off the Footloose soundtrack. After an ‘80s flashback afternoon, I drove home from work with “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” cranked up and on repeat.

The summer I was 11 years old I made up a cheerleading/dance routine to that song on my Dad’s front lawn. I put my older sister’s stereo speakers on the windowsill facing outwards and blasted Denise Williams over and over. (The neighbors recall that summer fondly, I’m sure.)

I’ve always known the lyrics, but yesterday I listened to them with an adult’s perspective. When I was 11 I didn’t really get that the song was about a guy who’s so talented in the bedroom nothing else matters. Lyrics like:
“. . . what he does he does so well
makes me wanna yell
let’s hear it for the boy
let’s give the boy a hand . . .”
take my mind to a different place at 36 than they did at 11.

Realizing this, I suddenly thought of “Annie,” my high school boyfriend’s mother. Her son and I never had sex, though that was due to our mutual fear of the Lord’s wrath, not a lack of hormones or desire. To us Annie seemed unnecessarily concerned with sex: overly cautious, prudish, even paranoid.

One day as my boyfriend was listening to Depeche Mode’s “Just Can’t Get Enough,” Annie turned to him and said, “It’s about SEX, isn’t it?!” When he told me this later, we both shook our heads and laughed. If she wanted to hear a Depeche song about sex, we could think of several more obvious selections. Silly woman. The song was about the rush of new love; how you think about a person all the time and can’t get enough of them. We knew about that from recent firsthand experience. (Silly, virginal teenagers.)

Nineteen years later, I can suddenly see where Annie was coming from. I feel as though a tiny crack has opened in the curtains that shielded her world view from me. Prude or not, as the mother of seven she was clearly a sexually-active adult. She knew what she was talking about and she had only her 17-year-old son’s word that her worries were unnecessary.

The Lord’s wrath doesn’t come up much in my household now. When my oldest son is 17, if he has a steady girlfriend they will likely be having sex. Thankfully I have a few more years before that thought starts keeping me up at night. But very soon I’ll probably object to one of his musical selections and I won’t be able to explain why. Silly parent.

Categories: Music, Parenting

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