This morning, Taylor Swift and I cleaned the bathroom.
It was kind of disorienting, scrubbing the floor around the toilet while Taylor sang, “Everything will be all right if we just keep dancin’ like we’re 22!” I wonder if Taylor has ever had to clean a bathroom. My other cleaning buddies, the band Carbon Leaf — now they have a ring authenticity when they’re helping me clean. Their angsty but quietly hopeful songs suggest that they’ve seen rougher times. I’m pretty sure they’ve cleaned a bathroom before.
But even though she’s no good at getting hard toothpaste off a mirror, I like Taylor’s songs because they encapsulate teenage daydreams. The kind of daydream you have when you’re fourteen, and you’ve painted your nails light pink; and you start imagining some older guy (sixteen or seventeen) thinking he’d rather spend time with a quiet dorky girl with pale pink nails than some glamorous red-nailed snob. (That’s just a hypothetical situation, by the way. Just made it up off the top of my head.)
And Taylor has a knack for writing lines that really capture a young woman’s love of drama, passion, and complete and utter overreaction. For instance:
‘Cause you were Romeo – I was a scarlet letter,
And my daddy said, “Stay away from Juliet.”
And here we realize that Taylor might not really know what she’s talking about when it comes to literature.
But I miss screaming and fighting and kissing in the rain
It’s 2 a.m. and I’m cursing your name
So in love that I’m acting insane
And that’s the way I loved you!
(That’s The Way I Loved You)
Because heaven forbid that a girl end up in a comfortable, mutually happy relationship where they could go a whole month or more without fighting. There’s no passion in that! Kissing and cursing and insanity–now that’s passion. It doesn’t really matter what kind of passion; at 15, you’re not really too picky about that kind of thing.
Drop everything now
Meet me in the pouring rain
The young Taylor had a thing about kissing in the rain. It’s obvious that Taylor didn’t wear glasses, because wearing glasses in the rain is incredibly frustrating. Also, apparently her hair didn’t react badly to getting wet. My daydreams rarely involved getting caught in rainstorms.
(The adult version of this is showering together. Even without glasses, it’s about 1/16th as romantic as it’s purported to be.)
You never did give a d– thing honey but I cried, cried for you
And I know you wouldn’t have told nobody if I died, died for you.
(Cold As You)
This is probably my favorite Swift line of all time. “You wouldn’t have told nobody if I died for you.” The 15-year-old girl (we’ll call her Sarah) creates an elaborate drama involving a boy she falls in love with, who only pretends to love her, then callously dumps her for someone else… and even when Sarah sacrifices her life for him, he doesn’t even tell anybody. The ultimate in betrayal.
And the saddest fear
Comes creepin’ in
That you never loved me…
(I Knew You Were Trouble)
It’s not that he didn’t love her. It’s that he never loved her, or whoever came before her, or anyone!… or anything!!!… He’s so cold and heartless through and through that he didn’t even post anything when she died for him!!!!
And this doesn’t even mention some of her more surreal lines, like, “All we are, are skin and bone; trained to get alone,” or “We are alone, just you and me; up in your room, our slates are clean — twin fire suns, four blue eyes…” That’s passion and poetry right there, that is. Or something. Not too picky about that, either, as long as there’s something hot going on.
I like Taylor Swift, and I like most of the songs I quoted. When I listen to her music, even though I’m cleaning up after four messy kids, I can recapture my younger days when my daydreams were unfettered and captivating.
And then I toss the rags into the washing machine, turn off the music, and see if my husband has texted me. Back to normal life. Thank goodness.