Tag Archives: ennui

An Eighties Do-Over

This morning I granted myself a second chance. I let
myself live the life I have often suspected I should have
lived, given the time and the location.
I said: be all that you think you could be.

I’d be able to fold myself into a chair and laugh easily.
Beachy hair and effortless blue calm like a well-worn denim
shirt, I’d be all cable-knit wholesomeness and maybe actually
study for tests instead of spending my evening hours
planning my bons mots for future episodes of Letterman.
And while I still might not have had Weejun-footed gentleman
callers I would have at least had a date for the prom.

I may have started drinking earlier. Wine coolers in plastic
tumblers in someone’s basement rec room with Squeeze
playing in the background. I always have the right shoes
and my sought after curls always smell like mousse. I will
have Steve Miller lyrics as my yearbook quote and think
nothing of it. In short, I simply won’t have to try so hard.

And if I feel as though I have to crawl out of my skin I will never let on.

I won’t have the chance to inhabit someone else’s skin
to relieve that pressure, since my extracurriculars
will not include Drama Club or Show Choir.
The staid, studious version I am creating as I sit here,
embodying everything I was and did and saw, is starting
to make me miserable, more miserable than I thought I
was back then, as it was actually happening. I think: I’m good.
But I still should have studied more.

An Unsent Fan Letter To John Taylor (of Duran Duran)

September 14, 1983

Dear John:

My name is Lisa McColgan. I just turned 13 and I am in the eighth grade at Central Junior High School in Hingham, Massachusetts. It is very boring here. When is Duran Duran coming to Boston? I would like to go.

The internet hasn’t been invented yet, otherwise I could probably look it up that way. As it stands, I have to figure out the lyrics to your songs by buying magazines specifically devoted to deciphering song lyrics. I buy these at the Curtis Compact about a mile away from my house, although this is where the “rough” kids hang out. They smoke cigarettes and make fun of my clothes. But I need to go here because in addition to these magazines, they carry the kind of candy that I am supposed to carry around in my cheap leatherette Jordache purse, the one with the safety pin holding the strap on. You have to have Now&Laters, Lemonheads, and Alexander the Grapes or else no one will like you.

I think if you come to Boston I will find out where you are staying. Do you each get your own room or do you have to share? I think it would be fun to share a room with Nick Rhodes. I would hang out in the lobby and wait for you. Even though I am thirteen and at least 10 pounds overweight, our eyes would meet and you would see past my age and extra baggage and realize that we are soulmates. I know that you would wait for me. I will graduate high school in 1988. I will graduate with a picture of Elvis Presley on my mortarboard and my classmates will roll their eyes. By then I will be over you. I will be all about Neil Finn. But today I am pretty sure you will wait for me.

Oh, John. 13 is such a terrible age to be. Everything seems like it’s a million years away and I am never going to become what I am meant to become. I try to imagine myself as six inches taller and 10 pounds lighter and the fact is that I am not going to be much taller than I am now. Do you understand? I mean – we haven’t met in the hotel lobby yet but maybe my words will take the place of that chance meeting and you will read them and slowly lower this letter onto your lap, close your eyes, and sigh with very great longing. Because you DO understand. That’s why I am very carefully choosing my words. I want my letter to stand out without the aid of puffy stickers that say “TUBULAR!” I want my letter to weigh upon your very soul, thereby meriting more than a form letter and an invitation to part with the ten dollars I don’t have to join your fan club.

Please write back.