A few weeks after my coochie ignited her eternal flame, I bought Mariah Carey's Greatest Hits. Two years later, I finally understand that the purchase was not random.
Those first few months, I'd sing "Can't Let Go" while waiting in bus-stop booths. I'd clean my apartment to "There's Got to Be a Way" -- because it makes me feel like I'm in a movie montage, and that's the only way to clean. I'd dance over and over to the ultimate achievement of Mariah Carey's career -- indeed, of the entire 90s decade -- "Always Be My Baby."
(For a fashion shock, check out the "There's Got to Be a Way" video.)
It's not like the purchase was so out of line with my tastes. I don't discriminate against good music, and I'd always passively appreciated Mariah. At one point in junior high I had an ice-skating routine going to "Hero." For real.
However, shortly after my pain set in, I had to own Mariah Carey. I had to have her on my hip so I could listen to her at any moment. I lived Mariah for several months in a row, dwelled inside the two CDs of her Greatest Hits and then a greatest hits I made of her Greatest Hits so I wouldn't have to change discs. I crunched across frosted grass in the wispy fog of "I Don't Wanna Cry," sped down the odd-angled rainbows of "Emotions," and bopped inside the Care Bear world of "Dreamlover."
(I scraped my neighbors' brains off the stairwell as a courtesy.)
Mariah turned out to be the ultimate form of escape. She's in love or out, or she's movie-montaging; that's all. In "Always Be My Baby," she's doing all three -- in love but out and, well, maybe rolling credits or something. Her world is crystallized emotions, paused moments, ecstasy or devastation in a single efficient melody, all while sporting the iconography of a coloring book.
That's why my crotch didn't throw on Celine, Whitney, Cher: Mariah's the one surrounded by butterflies. Mariah is an escapist, and she led me away.
Eventually I started to mix things up again, stray from straight Mariah. My crotch had me queueing up Carrie Underwood and Tom Petty with Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin, and it was the best playlist I had ever heard. I went through country, rock, and soul to bluegrass, operas, and requiems -- with a huge Britney detour -- and I've arrived recently at electronic sounds: Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, and Eurythmics/Annie Lennox.
But Mariah, you will always be the beginning and the end when it comes to my crotch. You are the distraction and the hope I need to keep moving on to that future Someday, that One Sweet Day when I will Make It Happen, whatever It is. Any Time I Need a Friend, I know you'll Be There. You tell me again and again that There's Got to Be a Way, and Mariah, I Still Believe you.
P.S. We'll have to agree to disagree on the Christmas wish-list thing.