I was listening to “Walk of Shame” by P!nk on the ride into work and laughing, as I usually do, at the part where she mimics the tour guide from Dave with the lines “We’re walking. We’re walking.” And then I got to thinking—a dangerous pastime, I know—about what it is about that kind of song that grabs me.
This is what I came up with: I dig songs (and other kinds of narrative) about abnormal and outrageous sex for the same reason so many others do. And why is that? Because my (our) sex life (lives) are so damn normal.
Listen: I’ve had sex with two people in my life. Two. As a sophomore in college, I gave my virginity to a girl who broke up with me two days later. And then, a year later, I started dating the woman who is my wife today. That’s it.
So, when I hear songs or watch films or read short stories about walks of shame or adultery or the fallout of jealous rages, I pay attention. But it’s not so much that I’m looking to live vicariously through others, that I wish I was as adventurous and hedonistic as they are. It’s more that I wish I had lived through those things before getting to where I am now. It’s not that I want to be doing the walk of shame now, at 35, as a married father of two. It’s more that I wish I had done the walk of shame once or twice in my not-so-sordid past, so that I had some stories of my own to tell.
And, of course, I do have my own stories. They’re just not the stories everyone else is telling, not the stories that everyone is reading. But maybe that’s good. I mean, nobody spins a yarn about adultery and its consequences better than my hero Mr. Dubus (see “We Don’t Live Here Anymore,” “Adultery,” and “Killings,” among others). So, why try to dethrone the champion? Maybe, instead, I can be the guy who writes stories about almost-adultery better than anyone else, or the guy who masters the tale of the totally typical love life.