These Charming Men

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When I was 14 years  old and a freshman in high school, I fell in love with two men. Well, one man and one boy. The first one was a trouble-making, blonde-haired boy who sat in the back of my Algebra class and tormented the teacher incessantly every day. I can’t say it was love at first sight. It was fear at first sight, that’s for sure. I was so young, so naive. But, I was asked to go out on a double date with my best friend, who was dating his best friend, I went. We saw Stand By Me and he gave me a kiss that I never forgot. It wasn’t my first kiss, but it was my first KISS. I mean, the first kiss that makes you weak in the knees. THE KISS where you get butterflies and see fireworks—-the whole nine yards.

There was something about him. Something sweet and kind, hiding under that bad boy exterior. We dated a while….he wrote me poetry, sent me flowers—he was the first boy to tell me he loved me. But, I broke up with him. Looking back, I think I just wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready for all the feelings that came with a relationship with him. I needed simple and being with him was anything but. Fast forward 24 years. Add in a broken laptop and Facebook. One divorce each. And the rest is history. They say lightning doesn’t strike twice, but it did for us. When he kissed me again, after 24 years, I was back in my parents’ basement, that scared 14 year-old girl, and in love all over again.

The second man I fell in love with that year was older. I fell in love without ever seeing his face or knowing his name. I was head over heels at the sound of his voice. We’ve continued our love affair for the past 28 years. Besides my family, he means the world to me. He has saved my life on numerous occasions. He has been my one constant. It all started with a borrowed cassette tape.

I had become a vegetarian at age 13. I was a huge animal lover all my life and one day I just made the conscious decision that I couldn’t love animals and eat them at the same time. So, I stopped eating meat and using animal products. I can’t say that back in the 1980’s in small town, hunting loving Pennsylvania, there were many vegetarians. I had my share of strange looks when I turned down bacon for breakfast or had to pack my own lunches every day. A friend of mine brought in a cassette tape one day and told me I should take a listen to this British band called The Smiths. Their song, “Meat is Murder”, was something I may be able to relate to.

I went home that day, popped the tape in my Walkman and from those first few harrowing opening seconds, I was hooked and intrigued. Then, that voice….”Heifer whines could be human cries…..this beautiful creature must die.” That voice. Those lyrics. About 45 seconds in, I was in tears. An absolute mess. It was unlike any experience I had ever had. I was never religious, but I imagined this was what people were talking about when they say they had a religious experience. My soul burst open. My heart was pounding. I felt every single cell in my body. I made a copy of that tape, took it back to my friend the next day and asked for more. I devoured the next tape, then went out and bought every album they had.

I found out that the man who had captured my heart with his lyrics and his voice was called Morrissey. Somewhere in those albums…. in each and every song, I found a refuge. I found myself. It was so much more than just liking an album or a band. I liked a lot of bands. This was a life-changing experience. When I was down or sad and felt like no one on the planet could understand, Morrissey was there. During those horrible teenage years where nothing feels right. Where you feel like you’re in the wrong skin and nobody understands what you’re going through, Morrissey was there.

When I started to feel down and alone, all I had to do was pop in an album and someone else understood. There was a lyric for every feeling, every sad emotion I had. But, not just sad…happy as well. Now, I know he’s labeled as the Pope of Mope, whatever….but, if you really listen, there is so much intelligent humor there. So many songs where you listen over and over again, because you just can’t believe someone was smart enough and witty enough to come up with that line. “The pain was enough to make a shy, bald, Buddhist reflect and plan a mass murder.” I mean, come on!!

Throughout my life—high school, college, becoming a mom, dealing with depression and Borderline Personality Disorder, a divorce, aging parents, you name it, Morrissey has been my constant. My true north. My cornerstone. He has never failed me or let me down. There’s a song lyric for every thing that I could come across. He’s my therapist, my best friend. I have friends that have grown out of Morrissey and The Smiths, moved on. Some even tell me to stop listening to him when I am sad. That infuriates me. He has saved my life! When I’ve been on the verge of ending it all, he is that friend on my shoulder, letting me know that he gets it, he has lived it. And why would I want to leave a world that he lives in! I would miss out on his brilliance.

So, when I was 14 I fell in love with two amazing, gifted, smart, sexy, extraordinary men. One has stayed and luckily enough, the other has returned. These men are my true loves. They mean the world to me. Once in a blue moon, I get to be in the same room with both of them at the same time………

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