A few months ago, Prince performed for two nights in my home town. It had been decades since I had seen him in concert. My heart did an extra bump. “I should get tickets!” And then I did nothing about it. “It’s probably already sold out; scalpers tickets would be a fortune; I’ll skip it this time.” He came and went.
Little did I or anyone else know that there would be no more “next times”. Prince had taught me many important lessons. One of them was to “party like it’s 1999”. I had forgotten that one, and many others, as time passed and I grew more serious.
When his film Purple Rain came out, I went to see it without any big expectations. Two hours later, when I walked out of the theatre, it felt like my DNA had been rearranged. (The other two times this happened was when I first saw Cher on television and when I heard Queen’s album Night at the Opera or Day at the Races, can’t remember which but instantly fell under Freddie Mercury’s spell. That white unitard, c’mon! Yes, I am secretly a gay man.)
Fortunately I look good in purple. Because, after watching Purple Rain and then buying up all Prince’s albums, I wore a lot of it for the next decade. When I wasn’t dancing myself into a sexed-up sweat to his music, I studied his lyrics for wisdom, (“If the de-elevator gets you down, punch a higher floor”). And, yes, I imagined making love to Prince under the barn roof, the horses wondering who we were, thunder drowning out what the lightening sees and feeling like a movie star. (By the way, another one who died too young, Warren Zevon, did a stellar version of Raspberry Beret.)
Prince came into my life at just the right time. He offered up a heady mix of spirituality and sexuality and a joyful but not too innocent embrace of life. Just what a young, frisky, and a little bit soulful girl wants to hear.
Like any passionate love affair, this one was programmed to burn out. His music still moved me but I no longer sought it out. My purple wardrobe—satin jacket, suede ankle boots, sequin scarf, rabbit hair fedora, and sparkly pantyhose—had long ago been disbursed to vintage shops and charity drives. Whenever I remembered some of my fashion get-ups from that time, I had to shake my head. Did I really walk around all pimped out like that? Prince and I were exactly the same height, (actually I’m half-an-inch taller), but whereas he looked cool with his sleek black pompadour, I probably looked ridiculous with my frizzy red hair and rosacea cheeks.
I’m sorry I didn’t bother to get tickets to see Prince when he was here last. I thought I had all the time in the world. Tomorrow there’s a screening of Purple Rain at my neighborhood rep theatre. More than three decades have passed since I saw it. I’m not that girl anymore. And Prince is gone. I’ll wear a purple flower in my lapel. Thank you Prince. R.I.P.