‘cuz i’m stuck like glue

5/21/08

I was in love with my piano teacher’s daughter. She was in my French class in 9th grade, and every Wednesday I rode the bus with her to Virginia Beach, got off on the same stop, and walked with her to her house.

This would imply there was the vaguest intimacy between us, and there was decidedly not. Even though our entire 9th grade class was 99 people, and her mom was a celebrated musician in a town where my dad was the symphony conductor, I got the feeling she could scarcely conjure my name. When I got off the bus with her, I’d walk twenty paces behind, faking a problem with my shoe or my backpack, to relieve her of the burden of pleasantries.

That was the only kind of romantic love I’d ever known – being so positive that my crush would find me laughable, that I’d deliberately keep myself completely out of the running. Forget about “the fear of rejection”… as far as I knew, I was from a different universe without a common language or genitalia, and approaching a girl seemed like breaking the laws of physics.

Carolina changed all that, and the repercussions of so many years in romantic utero came back to haunt me, but I digress.

One night I finished my piano lesson around 8pm, went to the foyer, and did something known to my family as the third circle of Hell: waiting for my mom to pick me up. She was, on average, about 45 minutes late each time, but it could vary wildly. So I settled into the vestibule bench.

Upstairs, I could hear the piano teacher’s daughter put on a 45 single, and before long, “My Guy” by Mary Wells conducted through the walls. Not being from the kind of family that would have played 20-year-old Motown hits at home, it was the first time I’d ever heard it, and thought the chord progressions were pretty cool. After the song ended, I heard the daughter walk over to the record player and play it again.

Myguycover.jpg

The second time, I noticed some of the lyrics:

No muscle-bound man could ever take my hand

From my guy-

No handsome face could ever take the place

Of my guy-

He may not be a movie star, but when it comes to being happy,

We are.

On the third and fourth time she played the song, I began to think I could be that person, the one who isn’t handsome, the one you can’t help love anyway. She didn’t want any of the boys I saw her with at school, not the lacrosse players or the wealthy studs she’d known since kindergarten – she wanted the guy who sneaked up on her, the one she adored despite all logic.

By the seventh or eighth time, I was sure of it. Each time the song ended, I could hear her bare feet walking across her room, the same number of paces, carefully taking the record player needle and placing it back at the beginning. She was trying to conjure this “guy” – didn’t she know he was sitting twelve feet below her?

By the tenth time, I was beginning to wake from my reverie. Where was my mom? Why was she always doing this to me? By the twelfth time, I began to feel sorry for the piano teacher’s daughter – doesn’t she crave at least a little variety in music? Could I actually be in love with someone who could listen to the same song that many times in a row?

By the time my mom’s headlights pierced the darkened raindrops of the foyer window, I had heard “My Guy” sixteen times in a row. I got into the car, and my mom apologized for making me wait, and then asked “how do you like the piano teacher?”

“She’s fine,” I said, “but her insane daughter drives me up the wall.”

0 thoughts on “‘cuz i’m stuck like glue

  1. Anne

    A gem of a story. Publish it somewhere! I’m serious. Reader’s Digest, even. (don’t hate)
    Likewise, “My Guy” is a gem of a popular song. It’s swingy, mellow, romantic. Mary Wells’s voice is perfect. I was around when it was first a hit, and I could feel myself begin to smile every time it came on the radio.

    Reply
  2. jif

    Hey don’t hate on those of us (myself worse than your crush) who play a single song over and over and over and over and over….. that is sooooo me… I got it from my mom. She used to record her favorite songs off the radio and then play them ad nauseum in the car, our wooden-sided oldsmobile station wagon.. which is why i still know every single word to “lady in red” – she loooooooooooved that song…

    Reply
  3. kevin from NC

    There was a drug store/soda fountain type place in a small town in eastern NC when i was a young kid. It was the only place for a kid to go..excpet the pool hall and i was too young for that. When the song ‘Knock Three Times’ by Tony Orlando and Dawn came out, it played constantly all day everyday. (yes, I am dating myself) They had one of those 45 players with the auto re-play tone arm that i thought was an engineering marvel at the time.
    I was sick of the song after about 2 days of 1 hour visits. I can only imagine what i would have felt if i had worked there.
    It is interesting that the imagination is always the sex driver and not the different genitalia that you mention. I wonder what was going on in her mind while you sat down stairs? Was she just into the song? Was she wondering about the kid downstairs and had the same fears as him?

    Reply
  4. kent

    It seems that the original blog entry was about obsession and love, and the comments turned to the ‘playing a song over and over’ as the thing to comment on. So here’s mine:
    I worked bussing tables at the Kozy Inn on 1st Avenue in Cedar Rapids for several months to save up money for an impending trip with the fam to London. The Kozy was the sort of place that’s hard to find any more — straight up working class bar with kitchen service nice enough for the guys from the Oats factory to dress up and take their wives out for a meal there. Most male customers employed hair oil, and wore cowboy boots and belts with large buckles.
    The only music was from a jukebox, and for some reason the two most popular songs were “Seasons In The Sun” by Terry Jacks and “Sundown” by Gordon Lightfoot. And by popular I mean no shift ended without hearing both ten times. I came to loath those songs so intensely that I felt them as a pain in my chest every time i heard the first note.
    Some months after I left the job, the bartender, who I was pretty friendly with, went on to murder his room mate — the police found him (the bartender) stark naked and covered in his room-mate’s blood. I think he could have blamed Gordon Lightfoot and Terry Jacks, and be found innocent.
    Another random thing about the Kozy. Two women streaked the place — walked in the front door through the whole bar and out the kitchen exit stark naked. Great place.

    Reply
  5. Matt

    When I was working in Chicago I could hear the street musicians through my office window. Being forced to listen to “Sweet Home Chicago” on the sax 35 times a day is no fun. There should be an ordinance requiring street musicians to know at least 3 different songs.

    Reply
  6. Neva

    It was very common for me and my friends to listen to the same song over and over at around that age. Since there was no quick rewind for the record we were often trying to learn the words. I would be writing them down as quickly as I could but having to start over and over to add more lyrics to the paper. Perhaps that was what she was doing that day? Bet she still knows all the words to My Guy!
    There are several songs that are engraved in my brain for this reason. Sukiyaki being one of them.
    “It’s all because of you… I’m feeling sad and blue…”

    Reply
  7. ken

    I was staying in East Village for a week with some friends during one of those patented New York heatwaves in July. After three days of 100 plus heat, I decided to forgo my plans for the day, stay indoors and enjoy the A/C. About an hour after waking up, someone across the courtyard decided to play “Walk Like A Man” (The Frankie Valli version) again and again and again. I lost count at twelve. It was enough to drive me out into the steamy Manhattan streets, the heat was better than hearing that song again.
    About a month later I went to see the film “Sleepers” which of course opens with “Walk Like A Man”. I almost walked out.

    Reply
  8. Terri

    I bought the Kill Bill, Vol. 1 soundtrack last night (my first copy was stolen), and listened to Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang” about 4 or 5 times in a row.

    Reply
  9. Bud

    Reminds me of my suitemates in Morrison, sophomore year. One of them came back from Christmas with a CD player and exactly 2 CDs, “License to Ill” (Beastie Boys) and “Houses of the Holy” (Led Zeppelin).
    For the next four months, that’s about all I heard. Didya ever notice that the former samples the latter liberally? I did. Good times.

    Reply

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