Cassette Story II: Enuff Z’nuff
In the late ’80s, I negotiated a deal with my father to give me a $10 dollar allowance every month; adjusted for inflation, it is still a meager ~$17.86. At the first of every month, immediately after my father indignantly handed over the funds with a calloused hand, I begged my mother to take me to the mall to buy a cassette tape of my favorite hair band. They may have killed music, but they saved my suburban stranded soul. The one in mention at this juncture is Enuff Z’nuff, vaguely known solely for their one-hit wonder “Fly High Michelle,” on whom, typically in these kinds of songs, adolescent male faux-romantic lust was projected. They were more effeminate than the rest of their peers, and in sexual confusion, I occasionally found myself looking at their lipstick puckered cheeks a glace too long.
My mom conceded, drove me to the mall, and I partook in capitalism’s promise. I handed over my unearned ten a slave. Getting home, I rushed to my room, laboriously ripped the cellophane packaging open, popped the cassette in, pressed ►, and begin reading – hellaciously, in tiny 6 pt. font — the album credits and lyrics from flap to flap. My eyes suddenly abutted her name. Holy shit. My 13-year-old self’s nascent puddy-like mind could not believe what it saw. Lead singer and frontman Donnie Vie had thanked Nicole Eggert. Looking back, this is completely reasonable, if not probable: young actress and rock stars hanging out in the same places and meeting, possibly fucking. Perhaps this was my difficulty. So, in a fit of irrational denial, I concluded that it could only be a typo — that our Donnie Vie, what a prick, didn’t know my Nicole Eggert, but an unfortunate leg amputee Nicholas Egbert, some second cousin from Poland.
As any immature, confused, and emotionally desperate kid would, I waited an entire month for my next $10 dollar patriarchal installment, said to my patient mother “take me to the Wherehouse Ma, I have a serious issue here,” and came home with rapid heartbeat barely able to contain my nervousness. My over-protected universe was ripping apart at the seams. I butchered the cassette open and scanned my eyes to her name. It was not a typo — in itself insane, the notion that a typo would exist in one printing only — yup, Donnie and Nicole were indeed banging. My heart broke.
I imagined wonderful relationship-y things from which I was complicitly precluded — her lazy face on his chest as the cat jumps in bed; brunch outside as she licks Hollandaise off his chin; an afternoon quicky against the washing machine; a 2-chord ballad he whispers on acoustic to her, she smitten — which I do, with other couples, to this very day. My resent and self-loathing has metastasized into a brutal, lost version of me. The more I burn inside, the more I try to extinguish the fire with a penile hose.
I now had two copies of Enuff Z’nuff’s self titled debut 1989 album to contend with, each one blistering with Donnie Vie’s no doubt oral gratitude for Nicole Eggert. I lie on my bed, listening to him sing though the same lips she must have kissed with closed eyes and curious tongue. I look over at my VHS tapes, wanting to carnally plaster myself on her, or just cuddle. The crickets call outside the cracked window; my father snores just past death; the suburbs are serene, this inhabitant devastated. I am to discover that the album sucked, and that all three of us involved, this unactualized love ▲, would eventually grow into the strangers we now were. Every one of us tired, typo or not. It didn’t matter if Donnie simply thanked Nicole as a friend; I actually, viciously, wanted them to be “more than friends,” replaying nightmares in my head, to coax a despair which would come to be mine.
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5. The Phantom of the Opera
“How cheap everything is.”
“Be careful, you’re going to gain weight when you’re older.”
Make me listen by telling me how naïve I have been. Tell me straight up that I need to change because you bet all your straight flushes that I will.