Say what you want about hair bands — the ridiculously big hair, spandex pants, the sinister facades — Rock & Roll of that era empowered me. At the time, I fit right into the persona of the heavy metal chick. Painfully disturbed, volatile, passionate. I love the leopard print and leather-clad girl who frequented the Tampa clubs in the early 90s. She had everything to live for and a lot to live down. Maybe that’s why I watch Bon Jovi and Poison videos now when I want to feel sexy. That girl was hot. Long dark, curly, Dep-ridden hair, dark skin, curves, and man could she dance! Twenty pounds lighter and I could have crawled across a sports car in a Whitesnake video. And men NOTICED me. Much to my dismay few approached and even fewer bought me drinks, but when I ran my eyes over the room, I caught theirs running over me. All eyes would eventually rest on my roommate’s huge boobs but I still commanded significant market share. I’d like to think that they didn’t approach me because I was intimidatingly beautiful, but it’s more likely that they saw that volatility in my disturbed eyes.
Back then, guys were hot! I’m all for short haircuts as guys age but to this day, nothing turns me on like the heavy metal gods did at their peak. But it’s not them, it’s me. Seeing them channels desirable Maria, 20-year-old Maria, the Maria who turned heads. My social psych professor once told our class, “This is the best you’re ever gonna look.” He was right, but it was more than just youth, as he inferred. It was the stress of a midterm versus the stress of a pissed-off boss. It was immersion in a culture of fun, where we were surrounded by people our own age. We didn’t realize it at the time, but we would never again be blessed like that. It was the belief that we could do and be anything, before time and reality took over.
When I graduated from college, I wanted to be a rock star. I said it tongue in cheek but I wonder what would have happened if I really pursued a dream instead of just getting a job. Maybe I would’ve realized I was a writer sooner. Maybe I wouldn’t have wasted my time failing at jobs that were wrong for me. Maybe I’d have published that book by now. The few years after college were what smothered desirable, ambitious Maria. Once I worked at a few regular jobs, the thought of chasing a dream became a ridiculous proposition. I had bills, I had responsibilities. Besides, that’s what people do. They grow up. They get jobs.
Back then, life was about possibilities. And metal in those days brought out everything in me that believed in them. Now, life is about the choices we’ve made. Some were good, some were bad, but we live with them nonetheless. Possibilities aren’t off the table; it’s just that now they always seem to involve more responsibility whereas the possibilities back then seemed to involve significantly less. Back then, I wanted to live in an apartment at the beach. Now, I live in a house in a nice suburb. Back then, I wanted a career before children. Now my child comes before my career. Back then, I wanted to play the field. Now I want to stay married forever. And none of the new stuff is bad, it’s just different. But back then, we thought it would never happen. We weren’t like the boomers who became yuppies. We were cool and angry and tough, and we would stay young forever. I must admit it’s hard for me to believe how old I am, sometimes. I mean, I never thought about turning 40, at least until my late 30s, but it came and went and now I’m just getting older every day.
But you know what? The other day I was at a Kenny Chesney concert, of all places, and they were playing AC/DC before Chesney came on, and I jumped up and danced. Not like the post-baby-bodied mom I am now, but like the curvy, sexy girl I once was. Even though there were a thousand people behind me who could see my big breeder’s butt, I shook it like I did in the old days. And during that dance, I was back. I was sexy Maria once again. I made up my mind that when I play those old videos now, I won’t stay on the couch. I’ll get up and shake my thing and not only will I get some much-needed exercise; maybe I can get in touch with that sexy girl again. And I promised myself I’d channel her at every opportunity. When I strap my daughter in the car seat and crank up the engine, I’ll hit Hair Nation on the radio, and, as I pull my sensible SUV out of the garage, you’ll see me, banging my head and shaking out the old married woman to make room for the heavy metal goddess I once was.