Harold Brodkey Explains Carly Rae Jepsen’s
“Call Me Maybe.”
[Originally published July 12, 2012.]
Girl meets boy—your typical love-at-first-sight thing. She casts a wish into the well, into the ether; she has a vast internal landscape and wishes the boy would possess her, love her, that the two of them would become king and queen of Cockandcuntdom: facts so true she’ll never admit it. She looks to him—she touches herself maybe—and he catches her gaze, a glint of libido in his eye. She would trade her soul for this imagined life to eventuate; she would trade all the money and lineage in the world for one kiss; she would become Marxist for him.
She wasn’t looking for this kind of attachment! But he stepped into her line of vision; he entered like a blast of light; he imprisoned her with her love. He is very attractive, a testimony that life is so beautiful, my God, and he stares at her, hinting that he is DTF. His skin shows, his nipples swell against transparent cotton, and he wears ripped jeans. It’s a hot night, and the wind blows.
He begins to walk away, love’s inertia loosening its grip. He may not sleep with her after all. “WHERE YOU THINK YOU’RE GOING, BABY?” she howls into the night, gutturally, full to the brim of vulnerability and expired loneliness.
“HEY,” she calls out.
“I JUST MET YOU!” she cries.
She explains, in the language of love—English—how crazy it would be to just—oh, fuck it—she gives him her number.
But, she is no fool (if anything, she’s overeducated), and she doesn’t want to be perceived as Bertha-in-the-attic hysterical crazypants, so she nonchalantly—eyes cast downward and demure as hell—conveys he can call if he wants, but no big deal if it doesn’t happen; no big deal at all, she whispers in her own ear. It’s hard to look him in his soul-sucking eyes when she gives her number to him—she can’t not, it’s her biological imperative—but we can never forget that she is RELAXED about the transaction (only to him is she RELAXED, but we, the audience, familiar with dramatic irony, know the truth of her passion and desire).
In the past, all the other boys tried to chase her because she is very desirable—big tits, tight twat, and all that—but she doesn’t want to give her number to them, to the blubbering losers and sexual nonentities, not even maybe. She’d give them hand jobs, maybe, but never her phone number; never her vast interior landscape.
This new boy, the one designated as special because of his skin and ripped jeans and proximity to the wishing well, takes his sweet-ass time calling, as boys are wont to do. But simultaneously, she’s fallen in love. He gives her nothing, and she still feels everything. This is typical. This is what human relationships are all about, the distant relations between men and women.
Nevertheless, he still stands in her way, like teasing her. Both experience strong passions and weak understanding. She begs, borrows, and steals for more money to put in the wishing well (which is a metaphor) because she is a believer in unmitigated ardor and all-consuming love (although she didn’t know this until she felt it a few days ago on the hot, windy night, which is another metaphor, maybe). It seems this boy is drifting away; he is hurt and difficult; she wants to know where he’s going; obviously this is all crazy; she still wants him to call because they had a connection and he’s so good looking (it’s hard to look at him, like staring into the sun; he is Adonis; he is cut from marble; he brings her to her knees; la petite mort, probably).
Before this guy came into her life, she missed him so bad; she was lonely waiting for the “someone” who would rescue her from her loneliness. He is her someone. She wants him to know this—but she can’t use words or actions to convey it because, for the millionth time, he is so fucking attractive that she has a hard time looking at his face, but even so, she hopes he will call, because she can endure his handsomeness like a gladiator of love.
She still can’t get over how they JUST met. It’s crazy, she cannot reiterate that enough. At this point, we—everyone in the universe—need him to call her, but only if he feels like it, you know, because we don’t want to be controlling, so we’ll say, “Call her maybe,” so as to not betray our investment. We’re so invested, maybe because all the other boys have disappointed us, and we hope this one will be different, maybe; just maybe.
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