Where is the Youth?
I watched Christie climb on the hottest guy I’d seen in my life so far. He was tall, blonde and Peter Murphy skinny.
Christie handed my new dream man 15 bucks and he slid a tiny piece of tinfoil into her back pocket. Everything was five bucks. Five to get into the club, five for a hit of fry.
And then, in perfect Christie fashion, she did a full-on Bill the Cat “ACK-THBPPT “followed by an “Arp!” and hit her arm across her body, (which was her cruel imitation of someone with a developmental disability), then grabbed me and ran us toward the bathroom.
It was so curious how she was always her weirdo self, yet was pretty popular in the Goth crowd. It reminded me of school – I had to study for hours to get an A on a test, while my friends would barely study and ace it. I mean, for fuck’s sake, I practiced my serious face for hours in the mirror only to be dragged around the club by Bill the Cat.
She (fittingly) locked us in the handicapped stall and perched herself on the back of the toilet. I hovered awkwardly as she unfolded the tiny foil origami only to expose three very small pieces of paper, each with a tiny dragon printed on it.
Fry was paper? All this anticipation for paper?
“Stick out your tongue.”
I obeyed. She placed the small piece of paper on my tongue.
“Hunter bought five sheets of windowpane double-dipped Dragon in The Dead parking lot last week. This shit is so pure – you’re going to fry balls!”
I longed for a drug jargon-to-English interpreter; instead I just smiled and nodded.
“Don’t swallow it for 20 minutes. Just let it soak in, then chew it up before you swallow.”
This was meant to be. Little did most know, but I’d been eating paper for years. I was practically built for fry.
When I was a kid, the dog didn’t eat my homework – I did. I also loved books. They were delicious. I ate half of The Velveteen Rabbit.
I loved the taste of paper and the process of eating paper. I eventually graduated to pants and it got ugly, but it was like corduroys were meant for eating those little rows just like corn on the cob.
Someone walked into the bathroom and knocked on the stall.
“Courtney? Are you in there?” Christie’s eyes got huge, but I knew that voice.
I threw open the door and hugged Sandy for days. She was meeting us there, but with all the paper eating I completely forgot.
Christie suddenly burst out of the bathroom, put the foil with the last piece of fry in Sandy’s hand and ran onto the dance floor. She didn’t like attention wandering anywhere beyond her.
We met her on the dance floor but before we could talk, Front 242’s Headhunter came on. Christie freaked the fuck out and hugged both of us. I guess she was no longer mad.
“ONE YOU LOCK THE TARGET!”
And we all started to dance. And didn’t stop. Nitzer Ebb, Tones on Tail, Sisters of Mercy, and Alien Sex Fiend later, I stopped. In the middle of the dance floor.
Goosebumps shot up my arms. The warmth started in my knees and spread throughout my body and I broke into a sweat. I thought I might be thirsty, but I couldn’t tell.
(Press play and listen while finishing this post for maximum impact.)
Bella Lugosi’s Dead came on, as if on cue. The music vibrated through me as if there was no beginning or end of my body and the song. Where did the song stop and I begin? Nowhere. We were one.
The people, pain, music, high school, my father, mom, drugs, this place, this time, the planets, gravity, dimension travel, past lives, the meaning of it all – each piece fit into an intricate puzzle and it was right in front of me. Of all of us everyday really. We just couldn’t SEE it because it was right there.
It was all so simple. If I only had a pen and paper to record the answer to everything, but that would require I get off the dance floor and that was never going to happen.
We danced until the club closed at 2am, piled into David Byrne’s* beat-up 1973 VW Bug and ended up – Sandy, Christie and me – all laying on the floor, chain smoking and watching David Byrne make enormous shadows dance on his cottage cheese ceiling with his very large hands hovering over a single candle – the only source of light in the room.
Bella Lugosi’s Dead came on. It all came back to me – the answer. So I decided to share what was in my brain with my friends and David Byrne, but my voice sounded like a swallowed warbled echo and I wasn’t quite sure about the shape of my words anymore.
David Byrne hovered over me. His face was much more liquid than solid. He smiled wider than the Cheshire Cat.
“Is this your first time riding the LSD train, little girl?”
It didn’t hit me until 36 more plays of Bella Lugosi’s Dead (David Byrne had a cassette tape with nothing on it but that song for this very specific kind of incident), five packs of cigarettes and five hours later (remember, everything’s in fives now) that I realized that I’D TAKEN LSD.
I’d finally crossed the line in the sand. A line I never drew, but a line I was familiar with – that step from minor escape to full-on hard drugs.
I was not scared.
I felt dirty from the inside out.
And I couldn’t wait to do it again.
*I found out later that David Byrne was 20-year-old named Peter Pow and was not actually David Byrne, but he was just as tall and thin and was the front man of a local, very strange band. So I wasn’t too far off.
Murderous by Nitzer Ebb, Album: That Total Age, 1987, addt’l info
Lyrics (repeat several times)
Where is the youth?
It’s time to live
It’s time to know
Shout golden shouts
Lift up your hearts
Much better now
We’re stronger now
Don’t be lazy
With the pleasure of sin
Where is the youth?
Where is the gold?
Think of the beauty
Think of your pride
Don’t back away
It’s there, it’s there for you
Hear, hear what we say
Said hear, hear what we say
Let passion spend
Let your passion spend
Better now, stronger now
It’s time, it’s time to know
It’s time, it’s time to live
Shout golden shouts