It all started with "Borderline." It’s 1984 in Huntington Beach, Calif., and I’m working at Lamppost Pizza Parlor. I turn on the big screen TV and flip to MTV to watch a few videos before we open for the day. And there she is: Madonna in all her glory –– bleached wild hair, rubber bracelets up her arms, that hat with the bow. She was looking at the camera like, “here I am, world, you’d better get ready for me.” That was the first time I’d ever seen her, and I was totally in love.
After that, I watched her videos obsessively. I wasn’t blown away by her music, but her style was something I studied and copied. I also resembled her back then so it wasn’t long before people were calling me Madonna as a joke (but which I privately loved). That was when I started collecting her magazine covers. I can’t remember if I was just being weird and stalkery, or if I thought they’d be valuable someday, but before I knew it, I had a giant box full.
I’m not one to hang on to old stuff, but for the past 20 years, I’ve lugged this box from apartment to apartment, house to house. I’ve kept only a handful of items from my past: my turquoise polyester dress that I wore to the junior prom, a small stack of intense love letters from 1982, a few pieces from my creative writing class in high school, and a scrapbook filled with Michael Hutchence photos and INXS concert tickets (that’s another story). And those Madonna magazines.
Now here it is, the moment of truth. I don’t want these magazines anymore. ‘Cause dammit, I don’t even like Madonna anymore.
When did I stop caring? I guess about the same time Madonna desperately started to care. I mean, she embarrassed me way back when she started speaking with an English accent. And that Sex book –– that was just unfortunate. But still, she commanded my full attention. Lately, though, I’m seeing her just try way too hard. She’s not aging into this wonderful old dame that I’d always imagined and hoped for. Nope, she’s got the massive hope that if she exercises within an inch of her life and gets those cheeks plumped to full shiny apples, no one will notice that she’s not 26 anymore.
But I think we all notice. Under that rock-hard ass is the hint of skinny granny legs wrapped in fishnet stockings. And I don’t care how many 23-year-olds she dates, she’s still going to get old like the rest of us. What bothers me most isn’t that she’s not wearing pants much, or that she’s wearing boy-scout uniforms (well, actually, that does bother me), but that she’s doing it purely to stay relevant.
So why do I keep these magazines? As I ponder that question while checking their value on eBay, it hits me. I keep them for the same reasons I save the love letters and the prom dress. Because revisiting those old tokens of youth once in awhile reminds me of times I may have otherwise forgotten. Those issues transport me right back to those warm Southern California days when Madonna represented dancing, fashion and a time when I didn’t have a care in the world. It takes me to the smell of hair bleach and Aqua Net, red lips, beach cruisers, and dancing all night at Old World Dance Club. It takes me back to youth.
Madonna isn’t young anymore, and neither am I. Maybe that’s why I wanted to get rid of those magazines. But I think instead I’ll just remember her the way she was and pack her away for another visit when we’re both really old. We won’t break up––just take a little break.