There has been a lot of clamor about just who was this celebrity I met with the other day. Clearly, I cannot disclose that information on the blog, for fear that my new employer will find me online and fire me for being nuts.
But ALJ’s comment did remind me of something. ALJ – who actually knew who I met with; because I told her – speculated that I met with Kool and the Gang.
I can confirm that I did NOT meet with Kool and the Gang. I can also confirm that, if I did meet with Kool and the Gang, I’m pretty sure I would have been forced to disclose that information. Because the meeting would have been totally different. Because I wouldn’t have been able to stop myself from asking them to sing something for me.
I love Kool and the Gang. Like LOVE, love. And it’s not just because of their use of instrumentals. Or that they hale from Jersey City, New Jersey. And not just because of Celebration, and Jungle Boogie, and Ladies Night, and Cherish.
No. All good, but none of these are the reasons.
The reason why I love Kool and the Gang – and regularly listen to them on my i-Pod – is because of one song:
Johanna. G-d, I fucking love this song! Even with this wacky video, I love it.
When I was about six, Johanna was the epitome of what a love song should be. Seriously. Go back to the early 80’s. Does it get better than this? I don’t think so. At least for my six-year-old self, it didn’t get better than this.
When I heard this song – I think while riding around with my aunt, my mother’s youngest sister, in her Camaro …
… with T-tops … and an eight track (yes, it was the greatest fucking car I ever rode in, and yes, I thought my aunt was the coolest fucking thing ever) – I instantly accepted a few truths about the world.
1) The Camaro, with T-tops, was the coolest ride ever. And, when I got older, I would have a Camaro just like my aunt’s. Sadly, this never came to fruition. But I did have an Acura Integra.
Which was sorta like the Camaro of the early 90’s. At least, I choose to believe this.
2) I desperately wished my name was Johanna. Which would not have really been a stretch. My family is Italian. But no. They gave me some regular name that is both not ethnic and does not rhyme with anything. Don’t get me wrong. It could have been worse. My father wanted to name me Candice. Think about that for a second. How many lawyers do you know named Candy? Probably none. And while I don’t want to generalize, I will. Candice is not a name you give to your daughter if you have any hope of keeping her off the pole. Luckily, my mother won out and I got the name I got. But still. It’s no Johanna.
Which brings me to…
3) At six years old I knew that, because my parents gave me a name that did not rhyme with anything, I would never have a song written about me. This was devastating. And probably played a part in my lifelong quest to do the exact opposite of what my parents want me to do.
More importantly, I’m certain that my views about love and romance were shaped, in no small part, on the fact that no one would ever write a song about me. This may seem crazy to you now. But to me, at six, in my aunt’s Camaro, with the T-tops off, driving around with Johanna playing loudly on the radio, my fate was sealed. I would never be a romantic. I would never be one of those girls. I would never write my name and the boy’s I liked together with a heart on my notebooks at school. I would never write my first name and the boy’s last name together, indicating that it was “4-EVER.” I would never seek out flowers and judge my boyfriend’s love for me based on whether he sent me a Valentine’s Day gift.
And it was one of the best things that could have happened to me.
See, without Kool and the Gang and Johanna and this realization in the Camaro, my relationships with men could have gone very differently. Instead of focusing on things like, I don’t know – does he treat me well? Is he kind? Is he nice to my mother and my friends? Can I trust him? Does he make me laugh? Does he see me as I truly am and like me for it? Does he encourage me to be who I am, even when he wishes I would be a little easier to deal with? Does he help me be a better version of myself? – I might have focused on the Hallmark-meets-Hollywood ratings of a relationship.
As HC and I approach ten years together – sans flowers, sans Valentine’s Day gifts, sporatic birthday and Christmas gifts – I’m glad my name isn’t Johanna.