My seven year wedding anniversary is coming up and my husband has been asking me what I’d like as a gift to commemorate the occasion. The seventh year of marriage is supposed to represent several major milestones, namely the age for perfection and a benchmark by which to judge the success or failure of a couple’s marriage. It is conventional belief that if a married can make it past seven years, their marriage can withstand the most tectonic of events. Given the state of marriage these days – and how abruptly they appear to end – I’m not convinced that this belief holds much truth.
I kicked around a few ideas, none of them particularly exciting.
“I guess I’d like something useful, like maybe a dishwasher or something,” I mused. “Or maybe a bigger rice cooker. You could upgrade the one you got me three years ago.”
My husband didn’t even bother to look at me after I made my lame suggestions. Finally, after much reflection, I came up with the perfect token with which he could express his love.
“Write me a love song,” I ordered.
“A love song,” I repeated. “But not just any love song…it specifically has to be one from the 90’s.”
Pleased with my edict, I proceeded to give him further instructions.
“You have to dress up in tapered pants, find some patent leather shoes with plastic soles, let your hair grow into a short afro and cut two lines in the side, and find a collarless black jacket with shoulder pads that only slightly matches your tapered pants.”
My husband giggled (he actually giggled) when he had a firm image of how ridiculous he’d look in this get up in his mind. He promised that he would see what he could do.
Many people in the M.O.M Squad came of age in the 1990’s, when some of the greatest love songs ever were written. Babyface convinced many a filly (myself included) that by virtue of their existence, they could pervade a man’s thoughts on two occasions only: Day and night! *swoon*. According to Ralph Tresvant, I didn’t need a man who would give me money. All that was required to ensure a woman’s contentment and satisfaction was a man with sensitivity. (Go ahead, sing it with me – A man like me.)
For years I believed him, and wasted my better years giving boyfriends passes for forgetting anniversaries or not coming by or calling when they promised they would. All was forgiven the moment they affected even the most miniscule display of “sensitivity”. Usually this came in the form of an apology letter, wrapped in professions of love and fidelity. I was never quite certain how to feel when those relationships were ended by confirmed allegations of cheating.
Then Mary J Blige burst on the scene, fueling this absurd quest for real love with a single entitled by the same phrase. So, clad in a baseball jersey and Tek boots, a mob Black teens and twenty-somethings hip-hopped our way from dance floors to bedrooms in search of “real love”. Many of us were left jaded and disappointed. What was to be done? En Vogue came along and championed our cause, proclaiming that charlatans were Never Gonna Get It (My Lovin’), and with this new found piousness all previous wrongs would be set to right.
In the interim, Joe, Johnny Gill and Silk were desperately trying to convince us that this new quest for virtue was all a terrible idea. They wanted to know what turned us on, and cry “my my my” while they freaked us. Again, many a lass fell victim to the beguiling words of these lyricists and into the waiting trap of the neighborhood philanderer.
As ethereal, unrealistic and dreamy as this era was, I much prefer it to what we view “love” as in our society today. When the culmination of a relationship is summed up in gruff commands to Drop your pants (!) Drop your booty(!) GIVE it to me(!!), Booty, BOOTY, BOOTY!!! I think you might be inclined to agree that we are in a pretty sad state.
So with that in mind, I have charged my hubby to transport me to my favorite era and return me to a time when I had complete trust in love. I wish I could point him to a modern R&B artists who might offer him some lyrical creativity, but when the Babyfaces of our day – by whom I mean Ne-Yo and Bruno Mars – dolefully wail for us to put our hands on grenades and jump in front of trains as proof of our affections, I become hesitant.
Perhaps he can draw inspiration from I Got Nothin’ by Darius Rucker, which is one of the best love songs ever written and sung in my humble estimation. Is there room in the R&B spectrum for this level of brilliance? One would hope so.
In the meantime, this Black man had to go country to write a swooner in the new millennium and I guess I’ll have to trade in my Teks and Timbs for cowgirl boots.
Do you remember the 90’s? What were the songs that did “it’ for you? Do they ever cross your mind? (See how I did that? 😉 )