Occasionally I forget that I am in love with Michael Stipe, lead singer of R.E.M. I have been since I was a junior in high school and my brother introduced me to the album Murmur. I listened to the song A Perfect Circle so often that I made a special tape with it at the beginning. And the end. And in between. I found that it spoke to me, although to this day I have no idea what Stipe is singing or what any of it means. I still love this song, though. It’s our song. I will be sure to tell him once he knows of my existence.
I had a slight obsession my freshman year of college. I wasn’t dating and I wasn’t meeting anyone who treated me the way I wanted to be treated. (i.e. actually asking me out on a regular basis, and not abusing my gigantic crush… I had three gigantic crushes that year. I still remember them vividly. One is a great story I should tell one day except that I worry about people’s comments that were actually living with me at that time. The word “unstable” may be used.)
So I decided to fall for a stranger who lived on the other side of the country. If he didn’t reciprocate my feelings, at least there was a good excuse. The guy in my anthropology class could ask me out anytime and wasn’t. Stipe would if he could but he couldn’t so it was ok. I actually had a map with the route from my dorm room to Athens, Georgia, Stipe’s hometown. To this day, when people say they are going to Athens, I think: Georgia?
Stipe understood me. Although in the nineties Stipe was known for singing unintelligibly, I knew he was singing to me. Except for the song Orange Crush, which I believe is about Agent Orange in Vietnam. Even with my highly imaginative background, I couldn’t tie that into our love affair.
So I had all of his albums and I had the VHS tape of one of their concerts which I watched until it broke. I could do the dances he did to each of his songs. I even found him attractive with his dreadlock Mohawk. (I am a very forgiving person.)
I saw Natalie Merchant in concert during this time. It was the closest I got. They were/are good friends and there were always rumors they were dating until he told Time he was in a relationship with a man in 2001. (Denial is good.)
I FINALLY got to see the band in Jones Beach in New York about six years ago. Our friends got tickets from some guy they met at a gas station and we were as far away as humanly possible from my ex-boy toy. My friend, Desiree, did try to tell Michael I was there by yelling at the top of her voice that I loved him while I giggled like a schoolgirl. I think the only reason he didn’t hear her was the fact he had ear plugs in. The 3,000 people between us were being pretty quiet.
So I would like to be friends with him and talk about old times that he will have no memory of. I don’t see him knitting, barbequing and I think he is a vegetarian. I’m not sure what we would do, but I envision a hammock and geckos. Maybe we would take an English class together at the University of Georgia and then discuss it over coffee and hot chocolate afterwards. While I pat his baldhead.
Photo credit: R_Decatur_H (cc) Flickr