A woman got on the bus today, bringing my teen memories of Madonna with her.
Specifically, sitting on the beach at high-school camp, complete with circa 1989 Ray Bans and hot-pink Walkman, blasting Cherish on repeat (which unfortunately meant rewinding the tape every few minutes). Dave, a blond boy with legs longer than spaghetti, sat across from me, trying to flirt me out from behind my dark glasses. But true to thirteen-year-angst form, I used them to shield against his too-bright attentions.
How this woman accosted my memories I don’t know, being an 80-year-old Chinese woman. I think I would’ve remembered a Mrs Mayagi in my childhood. Her smell, if you have a strong constitution, was musty. I don’t know what’s more tragic – that I had to sit next to this smell (uh, woman) for ten blocks, or that my memories were well musty. Probably the latter.
Her must (ewww) sends me back to a time of big hair, flirtations and teen trauma (a stretch-marked version of adult trauma) – like a tangle that takes an hour to unknot. As crucial to this memory is another song, Poison by Alice Cooper. Someone had blasted it from their ghetto non-stop all three days of camp and as a result, I’ve always been fond of it (can one be fond of Alice Cooper?) (a word ordinarily reserved for that guy who’ll never be more than a friend) (which, come to think of it, would be an apt description of withered Alice).
The dorm hall was divided between the male and female, with the strictest instructions that. No-one. Under any circumstances. Cross over into Foreign Territory.
I stood on the boundary line – the outlaw with one foot in Mexico and the other in California. Boy Comanches loitered on the other side, “areeba areeba!”
Let the flirting begin.
I recall donning my brand new pyjamas and prancing to be seen. I was on the off-ramp of being the New Girl, and had gained momentum by the time camp rolled around. It was about as good as it got (at that school, certainly) (which unfortunately, was the one that stuck).
Where the musty smell comes in, I do not know. But it exits the bus then, taking the Comanches and Madonna with her. I’m left with the feeling of watching a Polaroid in reverse, the picture fading before my eyes.