Wednesday, March 19, 2014

No. 78 – Since I’ve Been Loving You

Performer: Jimmy Page & Robert Plant
Songwriters: John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant
Original Release: No Quarter
Year: 1994
Definitive Version: None, I guess, although, let’s face it: Any Led Zeppelin version ought to be considered, even if this, technically, isn’t Led Zeppelin. The one from The Song Remains the Same, finally released officially in 2008, is pretty awesome, too.

Because Since I’ve Been Loving You wasn’t on the original release of The Song Remains the Same, I didn’t have it in my collection until 1982 when I made a tape of a Food World co-worker’s copy of Led Zeppelin III. I’ve been loving it ever since.

Of course, 1982 was the year I met Beth. As I write this, we’re coming up on the 27th anniversary of our breakup, and I suppose it would be more appropriate to have this song fall on the 18th, but I like it better than Violet, so I have to put where it is. If I can’t be honest with myself, I can’t be honest with anyone.

As I suppose has been clear from this blog, my fondness for my relationship with Beth continues to grow the further I get away from it. I’m glad we’re not still together. I often think that if we stayed together longer, and forgive me if I’ve said this before, but I’d now be divorced with at least one kid in college. It worked out for the best for everyone.

So in honor of that and the anniversary of our breakup, one day removed, I thought I’d tell a story about a fond memory, or a collection of them, regarding Beth. Parental guidance is advised.

You know what that means, right? It means the subject matter is sex. No one is warned ahead of time that what they’re about to see is an orgy of violence and blood unless the carnage would make Jeffrey Dahmer blanche. No, the thing that demands a warning is—God forbid—anything that promotes sex as anything other than deadly, degrading, exploitative, regrettable and, ultimately, something you don’t EVER want to have anything to do with except under the guise of marriage (and then only for procreation purposes). You can thank the pilgrims for our collective national hangup.

Anyway, when Beth and I began to date, we moved fairly fast, all things considered. I mean, she was only 15, but within a month, I had made it to second base, which was a glorious enough accomplishment … for a while.

Even then, we snuck around behind her parents’ back a bit. As I mentioned, as long as Beth was home by curfew, all was well. I didn’t have to be gone; Beth just had to be home. We took advantage of that, starting with being on her front porch and then moving to a blanket around the side of her home, where we had freedom of movement and no one could see us.

Sometimes I’d even come over after curfew. Beth was an old romantic, so I’d sneak around to the back of the house and toss stones against her window until she’d come downstairs and join me outside. We continued that for the rest of our relationship. I guess that made me Beth’s back-window man.

After we finally consummated our relationship in 1983, it was on in a big way. The following summer, Beth took me lingerie shopping for the first time. Nothing was hotter than lingerie, and Beth loved modeling it for me, and I loved removing it from her … slowly. So why not go along and help her to pick out a few things? In a way, it was gifts for me, too.

At Kingsdale Shopping Center around the back where the Union and Madison’s used to be was a new store: Victoria’s Secret. Back then, Frederick’s of Hollywood was the only sexy lingerie store I knew of. I liked Victoria’s Secret right away, because it was more demure, which made it naughtier. Beth liked that, too. (It’s ironic how after Victoria’s Secret wiped out the sluttier Frederick’s by being demure, it then shifted to being slutty.)

I’ll never forget the first time we went into that store. I felt self-conscious—being a man in what was essentially a woman’s boudoir—but also supremely confident. It was almost like buying condoms. “That’s right. I’m with my girlfriend shopping for lingerie that I’ll be seeing her in later.”

And it didn’t bruise the old ego that the sales clerk who helped Beth was one of the hottest girls in my high-school graduating class, if not the hottest. YOU work HERE? Visions of the two of them modeling attire for my benefit danced in my head.

In reality, it was enough just that she saw me there with Beth. I mean, how much of a loser was I if I’m HERE with HER?

As I mentioned a while back, Beth had an adventurous side. That led us, eventually, to the North High Drive-in. When I was a kid, my parents used to get me in my Dr. Dentons, throw a blanket in the back of a station wagon and take in a double feature of Disney flicks at the North High Drive-in north of the city. I’m as certain as I can be about such things that the first movie I ever saw was there.

The drive-in fell on hard times in the late Seventies. By 1985, its fare consisted of slightly different fare. It had gone from The Jungle Book to the Jungle Fever Book.

Beth and I went a couple times. Unlike going to Victoria’s Secret, I felt far more uncomfortable arriving at the North High Drive-in in those days. It seemed to be an announcement not that I was going to have sex, but that I was going to have sex RIGHT NOW. It was a lot to handle, but I got over it.

So, yeah, when Beth and I broke up, the thing I mourned the most afterward was the blow to my loins rather than to my heart. Eventually, both locations healed. Time—and new adventures—heal all wounds.

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