I buy True Blue with money from my piggy bank earned from outside chores and inside begging. This is officially the first record I’ve ever bought on my own. Other records were given to me by my mom or dad or someone else, someone supposedly in tune with music, like my surrogate aunt Nan who sometimes bangs on bongos in the nude or my Uncle Joe who plays the piano in Jersey bars overlooking frozen rivers. The cashier slips the record into a brown paper bag. This thing is mine, all mine. When I get home I’ll pull the cellophane wrapper off and slide my fingers in between the album cover, careful to avoid paper cuts, inhaling the smell of a freshly pressed record, plastic, inky material. My mom is with me. I hold her hand as we cross the street. I peek inside the bag. True Blue. I won’t play her on my fisher price record player because she is way too grown up. She’s all sex. Hips and boobs, John Paul Gautier. She dances for men, to woman, she rolls around arms and bellies and legs. I drop the needle on my dad’s record player. He’s away again so I can play her loud and for as long as I want to. I dance, roll around his sheepskin rug without pants on, in leg warmers, in my mom’s red lipstick, teased hair, neon bracelets around my ankles.
Her name is Louise Ciccone. I’d like to think I can be like her. I know her many faces, I have them too, playful, brooding, nasty, sullen, sultry. Her dance moves in menswear and lingerie, her chameleon hair, blonde, red, black, brown, blonde. My mother hosts a tiny Russian girl named Elena. Elena thinks I’m related to Madonna because we have the same yellow cropped hair and cross earrings. I’m flattered and so I allow her to believe this and don’t feel like speaking slowly enough to explain that I’m not the only one in this country who follows Madonna’s fashion trends. Yes, I’m her cousin.
I count down with the radio DJ in squeals to the number one song of the country, Like A Prayer and sing and dance around the living room with my friend Mindy. She sits back and admires my ability to hit the high notes without breaking. Madonna was a ballet dancer. She grew up in Bay City. She’s Italian. I play the Like a Prayer video to my Grandma Millie and she immediately turns it off because of the cross burnings. Her mom died when she was little. Her dad raised her, maybe he wasn’t the best dad. Maybe he was the dad she sang about. One day (because I ask) my father will buy her Sex book for me for Christmas and shortly after, someone will steal it. She married Sean Penn. She married another guy named Guy. She’s a mother to four. She stays out of the sun, eats mostly chicken breasts. She has a fake British accent. Her birthday is the day after mine. She’s a mediocre actress, a children’s book author, a pitch imperfect singer. One day I’ll listen to her disco revival Confessions On a Dance Floor while sprinting on treadmills, while mopping bat shit off of the floor of an old barn.