look what you made me do

THEORETICALLY, there is nothing wrong with a 41-year-old, mostly employed writer living in a wooden house in a small provincial town on the northeastern flank of European ennui developing a thing for a 31-year-old American singer songwriter who is far more successful and wealthier than he will ever be, whom he also happens to encounter here and there in the media. Theoretically. But there is also that icky feeling that comes when developing feelings of any kind for someone you have never met, and for whom you are almost expected to have some starburst reaction, just like you’re supposed to thirst for a cold Coca Cola on a dry day, or long to feast on a bag of fluorescent orange Doritos, or gobble up whatever else they are selling you. Yet the eyes don’t lie. For whatever reason, they keep rolling over to Miss Swift. It just happened to me the other day. There I was, in the café, drinking my double espresso in the back room, when I chanced across a photograph in a magazine. Two clear blue eyes and that rebellious ski jump of a nose. There was something rather unruly, mischievous, and punk in those eyes. Who was she? I read the photo caption. Oh no. Not again. Her. Why? Years ago while in Nashville, I had acquired some merchandise for my daughters, including crimson t-shirts with her image on them, and an album they could listen to in the car. I remember listening to that album and thinking, “Hey, I actually kind of like this girl.” These thoughts I kept to my miserable, repressed, father-of-little-girls self, a gray, opaque nonentity that existed to step in and bandage knees, procure ice cream, and chauffeur them from destination to destination. I was a little ashamed, truth be told. But why? Why do we feel shame for our own impulses when clearly the mind has a mind of its own? There is a joy though too, the joy of having a reaction to anything. I have enjoyed my thing for Swift. Let it be, you know, let it all be. Even as I have to grimace through the very dreadful “Look What You Made Me Do,” which is basically her saying that line over and over and over and over again, even then, just let it be. Accept one’s inner Taylor-loving self. Revel in it. Write love poetry, songs, prose. Follow her on social media. When I worked in New York in the mid-00s, I had a similar freak experience when I would find myself drawn to images of Nicole Kidman of all people. My eyes would wander the magazines and billboards and movie posters down on Maiden Lane, Gold Street, Pine Street, Park Place, and seize on this pretty person and ponder her identity, only to realize it was Tom Cruise’s ex-wife, the star of Dogville, and an Australian no less. One day I confessed this passing fancy to my coworker, Waylon, who was from New Mexico and carried a knife, and he had no bones about it. “Of course, dude,” he said when I told him. “She’s a total babe! I’d definitely do her.”

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