There’s something unique about those major adolescent crushes that
makes them, for better or for worse, unforgettable: Those glances you throw her way in English class while Mrs. Lawrence goes on about Flowers for Algernon; the moment you realize you can conjure the scent of her perfume and hue of her hair from memory; your sweaty palms pressed to her soft hands, your bodies drawn close, as you dance at an 8th grade function to some lame ballad from the new Aerosmith album.
When I think back to that crush I had on Julia, Steven Tyler’s thick-lipped banalities thankfully fade into silence and the junior high gymnasium mirror ball spins instead to the sounds of Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend. Sometimes instead of seeing Tuesday Weld on the album cover, I’d see Julia.
Yes, I had it that bad, but coupling the peculiarities of raging hormones with the potency of Sweet’s words; the adolescent angst of unrequited love does strange things to a geek in the suburbs. In my mind I asked Julia the same question and made the same proclamation Sweet sang on the album’s title track: “Don’t you need to be back in the arms of a good friend? / Cause, honey, believe me, I’d sure love to call you my girlfriend.” Similarly, the twangy pleas on “Winona” became my own as I longed for her to be my little movie star. Sure, maybe I didn’t really know her, but I was alone in the world. “I’ve Been Waiting,” with its uppity arpeggio and simple but suitable lyrics, somehow gave me hope that my hopes would be answered.
But things didn’t work out. Julia, despite whatever mild interest she may have had, dated a bunch of my other friends yet skipped me the same way I skipped “Holy Land.” After looping “You Don’t Love Me” ad nauseum, I found myself singing along to Girlfriend‘s barren finale, “Nothing Lasts,”
choking up as the somber air of Sweet’s voice tried to let the past go.
Even now with my eyes on another girl, I can still hear Sweet’s “Your Sweet Voice” whenever I see her electric smile or hear her accent. But with Sweet’s voice I can still see Julia on the dance floor and how, as I struggled for the right words, our hands and eyes found each other’s. We shared a few minutes in what seemed solitude, but when the song ended, we smiled and walked back to our respective cliques – that’s as close as we got to love.
Teenage Fanclub – Thirteen
Superdrag – Regretfully Yours
Semisonic – Great Divide