Open Arms. And Other Limbs.

Thank you all so kindly for the words of encouragement and support this week. Glad to know that I was actually beating up on my kid less than I was beating up on myself. Next week’s self-flagellation topic: The Preschool Process. Stay tuned for all the, um, fun.

Every night I lay in bed hugging my pillow, which was a good enough substitution for the time being. Every night I grasped in the dark for the third button to the left which set the tape deck in forward motion. Every night I fell asleep to the strains of Open Arms by Journey, my secret, passionate forbidden musical love. Don’t tell my safety-pins-in-their-ears friends. Don’t tell my Anarchy-A-on-their-hightop-toes friends.

(The love for Journey dies hard; find proof here that Don’t Stop Believing was my ringtone a good year before the Sopranos – and Hilary Clinton – coopted that thing of beauty for their own purposes.)

To me Open Arms was The song. You know, for The time.

Or, more specifically, The First Time. For It.

I was determined to cross that First Time thing off my list before I turned seventeen. Just you know, to get it out of the way. Apparently the suspense was kiiiiilling me in that dramatic, sixteen year-old way.

Cut to the Junior Prom. Assymetrical 1985 hair. Braces that forced a tight-lipped smile for the Nikon. Red lipstick. Decent enough date.

He brought the $3 Andre Champagne, I brought the Sponge.

In my room, later that night, which wasn’t particularly special or romantic or otherwise memorable, I pressed that third button on the tape deck as I’d practiced a million times. Open Arms came on. We didn’t quite know what we were doing. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t even interesting, for either of us. In fact, I’d insist to girlfriends in the days to come that It didn’t count at all. That I get a do-over. That you can, in fact, have two First Times.

The song ended. The night was over. He may or may not have called me the next day.

But ohmigod, the next night, when I went to press play on that tape deck again, like, ohmigodohmigodohmigod…the tape was broken.

It had broken. It didn’t work. After hundreds of nights of playing that song and imagining what It would be like, it would no longer play.

It was like, totally a metaphor. Or a sign. Or like, something. Ohmigod.

Even though It didn’t count.

This has been the first of Flashback Friday writing prompts, brainchild of the brilliant Tracy and Catherine. The theme being “How [name of ye olde time-y group or song] Changed My Life.”

It’s not a meme. It’s um…a writing prompt. If you want to do it too, feel free. If you want to read other takes from writers with some killer chops, go here:

Her Bad Mother
O The Joys
Mrs. Flinger
Breed ‘Em And Weep
Girl’s Gone Child


18 thoughts on “Open Arms. And Other Limbs.”

  1. I have heard that ringtone, and been duly impressed.(My Journey guilty pleasure is Faithfully. Don’t tell anyone.)I can’t remember what was playing my first time. Something gothy, I’m sure, and totally inappropriate. Which is prolly why I’ve blocked it out.

  2. I’m familiar with that ringtone, too. What a fun writing prompt. I may have to join in.I wish I had a song to go with my first. All I remember is the awkwardness.

  3. SEPARATE WAYS!!!! dude, who could resist that video with them clustered around the camera melodramatically ROCKING THE FUCK OUT. (well, “rocking the fuck out” — we are talking about journey here.)

  4. Ooh, a new writing prompt. I heart writing prompts. And if it makes you feel any better, my first time was with a guy who had a full cast on his leg! Don’t ask… The best that can be said is that I got that first time out of the way.

  5. OH. MY. GAWD. You kill me, Liz. And TOTALLY A METAPHOR, that broken tape. Also, I’m pretty sure that it’s a rule somewhere that Don’t Stop Believing must be everyone’s ring tone at some point.

  6. A METAPHOR! Awesome.(I can’t believe I didn’t add Journey to the list. I mean, Steve-Perry-tight-jeans-wispy-mullet JOURNEY. GAH.)

  7. This actually went really well with the Sunday Scribblings post < HREF="" REL="nofollow">I was already writing<>, so I decided to jump on the Flashback Friday bandwagon and combine the two into one piece. Is there a hub somewhere or is this more of a freestyle sort of thing?

  8. Since my ‘first time’ happened during my “Catholic” days, I would’ve taken that broken tape to be a sign from God that I had sinned. And, I probably would’ve gone on to be a nun. I have a feeling Neil Young was on during my first time. I wonder if that is why I have such an aversion to his music now.

  9. The broken tape was definitely an omen. It was trying to say “Forget last night! Yoooo get a doooo overrrrrr!”It’s funny that both of our Open Arms stories were about some dumb high school boy!

  10. ohmygod the first time song! Brilliant. I’m now racking my brain so remember if there was a song on and what the hell it would’ve been.Def Leapord? ACDC? Oh, shit…And no, it totally doesn’t count. Everyone’s first time is like that. Right? Right?

  11. Wow. I love this post. I’d wager first times are almost never as exciting as people think they will be . .

  12. Can I discount my first (generally unpleasant) time since there was no song playing? Anyway, great post and story. And clearly you get a do -over. . .er, GOT a do-over.

  13. Asymmetrical 80’s hair, how I miss thee. (I don’t miss thee).My first time was on my wedding night. It was equally confusing and weird. I’m sure if we’d tried to play a song during our attempts at consummation, we would have broken ourselves.

  14. Crap. I think I still know every word to that damn song. It would have been THE SONG, if I had done it with THAT GUY, I gotta say. But he had no condom, and no glove, no love, is what I said at the time. Oh, memories…

  15. Member of the high school class of ’87 here…my hair was not asymmetrical, but it WAS big. (I did live in New Jersey after all.) And I LOVED Journey. I still love Journey, as a matter of fact. I’m coming out right now and declaring there is no shame in still loving Journey in the ’00s!

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