The girl with the mousy hair.
Like me, 14, allegedly. Except I was going on 12 and she was figuratively 21.
Youthful, sun-kissed, alabaster skin, porcelain smooth, pulled tautly over apple cheeks leading down v-shaped avenues to a sensual cartoon of a mouth. Sparkly eyes, full lips, breasts. The holy trinity for a prepubescent boy high on hormones.
Through the labyrinths of my clumsy callowness, I could feel the knowing, the secret knowledge, the bristling sexuality, the wordliness - she had it in spades, reflecting back my dumb awkwardness to me.
This confident girl/ woman running around laughing, holding a cherry cola aloft like finest champagne - the bubbles playing havoc with her nose, the head tossed back with a laughter so free. Entranced, staring, my mouth hung open. The French call it a coup de foudre. A thunderbolt.
Whatever it was called, it hit me. Hard.
I backed out of the kitchen feeling horribly exposed, gauche and out of place. I wandered down the hall and into the front room. I needed something to distract me and picked up an album off the top of a pile, slid it toward me, and looked no further.
There, on the back cover surrounded by scribbled lyrics and tracklist, a conundrum. I looked again and again and again, but there was no way to know. A man? A woman? A hybrid? I flipped over to the front. An extraterrestrial? Echoes of Joni Mitchell, yet somehow masculine. Golden hair taking him into the realms of space.
I rolled the title around in my mouth, tasted it epicuringly, I had never heard this expression before. I whispered the words, Hunky and Dory.
“Oh, good choice!”
She entered the room like a trace of perfume. The words of compliment seductively delivered, as she pulled at the black strap to her bra, ran her finger underneath, head tilted toward me, the eyes daring me to crash upon her rocks. But then I had to spoil it all by opening my mouth and saying somethin’ stupid like…
“Who is this? She looks strange”
“What? She? SHE? That’s David! David Bowie”
“I was just teasing you.”
“I haven’t heard this one of his.”
She peered into my soul, trying to work me out. It gave me a few seconds to fall into her eyes and drown.
“Put it on then. But don’t scratch it... and I expect a thankyou later.”
With that she went back to the fun room.
I took out the album like a priest and placed it on the deck. Nervously put the needle to the vinyl and in seconds a sound, a strange fascination pulsating me, indeed, filled the air, and changed my life forever.
It was the essential essence of something missing from my world, the vital ingredient that powered the flavour that cut through my mundanity. Informing my refusal to embrace the norm, the mediocre, the life less ordinary. I needed it like air and blood and fire and water.
But I didn’t know it until this moment, when the luxuriant opening chords and jazzy, swirling saxophone gave way to the stabbing piano and the cartoon ghoulish backing vocals rose and fell, and I heard the voice.
“Still don’t know what I was waiting for, and my time was running wild.”
By the time the chorus kicked in, I was ch-ch-ch-changing with the best of them and turning to face the strange with something akin to religious fervour.
As Oh you pretty things started up, I was ready to wake up my sleepy head, put on some clothes, shake up my bed.
Instant addiction, mainline on the mainman.I fell in love with an alien.
This was to reach its heavenly zenith on the 6th July when David, two different coloured eyes, a multi-coloured catsuit, nail varnish and an electric blue, 12 string acoustic guitar smiled into the camera, pointed directly at me and said,
“I had to call someone so I picked on you-hoo hoo.”
The frisson of electrical charge that went through me, seeing him drape his arm nonchalantly around peroxide guitarist Mick Ronson as they sang the chorus in harmony together. I let out a little shocked, open mouthed delighted gasp when I saw it.
And I opened my arms wider than the Sargasso sea to embrace Ziggy David Jones Bowie Stardust. He had just sold me the world, and I bought every hook, every line.
Bowie gave me that essential floor, the guaranteed certainty, that, weird and weak as I am, I have meaning, a place, and a purpose. It’s ok to be alien, to have pointy cheekbones instead of looks, to have blazing red, buzz cut hair rather than dark, curly locks.
To be a dandy in the underworld. For others not to get you, except for the odd one or two who do. To be who and what I am, and for it to be ok. Better than ok. Alien rock and roller, brilliantly lit failure, vividly drawn.
Unique. Outside definitions, boxes, labels, categories. To not conform to the societal norm.
Thank you Karen, wherever you are.
We passed upon the stair.
The girl with the mousy hair.