let me sleep on it.

I'm almost having a Chuck Klosterman moment. In which case this would end up being a rather long discussion, but really it's too nice outside to be on the couch writing about this. So we get a brief version, to be possibly tweaked ad nauseam in idle moments here and there.


I was walking back from somewhere late at night a few weeks ago, it was cold and I was by myself, and off in the distance I heard the strains of Meat Loaf's "Paradise By The Dashboard Light" (the original version) coming from what had to be a bar judging by the volume of the music and the sound of more than one person singing along.

And it struck me that this is one of the very very few times I've ever heard the song without seeing the video. I've seen the video hundreds of times: in 1982 MTV still didn't have many videos yet, so you could still count on seeing any given video at least once on any given day, and PBTDL was a pretty popular video.

I mean who knows if it was popular or not, but it was popular with me personally for a few reasons. I mean, at that point I'd never seen anything like Meat Loaf onstage before, I guess few people had: hypothetically well-dressed but violently unkempt; theatrically emotional and unhinged; and of course, 300+ pounds, he was a striking and weirdly charismatic performer in his original incarnation.

But this particular song/video is a duet, and as a 13-year-old boy, most of my attention was drawn toward the scantily-clad female component of this duo, Karla DeVito. I mean yes it's a song about sex, and in 1982/83 sex was on the verge of eclipsing most of my other interests. So I would've been interested regardless of who was singing.

But I realized watching it again last night that a) wow is this some campy-ass, super-white, Hair meets Rocky Horror shit, but b) the lip-synching is impressive (the actual female vocal is of course Night Court's Ellen Foley) and c) I completely understand what the 13-year-old me was looking at, and d) the dare I say dramaturgy of DeVito's performance oversells the content of the song so hard that I think it even takes the lyrics beyond their original intent. At least as a young teenager, the last minute or so of this video made me think I felt a very adult emotion for the first time: a sort of disillusioned nostalgia that made me feel sorry for adults.

And it all happens in the outro, after they have their big makeout session (which also thoroughly confused me at the time....so you can be big and fat and sweaty, but small theatrically pouty women in Gothish makeup will still want to kiss you passionately? weird) and post-makeout stereotype war ("before we go any further do you love me" vs. "let me sleep on it"), then of course they get married and it's horrible and they're both waiting to die so they can end their time together.

Then the band turns the bombast fader down one notch (down to 90%) and the most poetic lyric in the song reappears, about glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife; but this time the look on Karla's face spells such traumatized devastation that the young me just knew that for her things would never ever be the same, and somehow, my young young self really seemed to know what this meant. When she looks off into "the distance" and tentatively touches her hair while kind of manically insisting on remembering the good version of what happened, I thought wow, I don't really know if I ever want to feel like that.

Though by the next day when the video came on again I was usually back to wondering why more girls didn't go braless in white leotards, it seemed to me like just about the best fashion decision a girl could possibly make. And then eight minutes later the ending would get me again, and over time, through repetition, I gradually developed a very conflicted feeling about Karla, maybe even the proto-platonic boy/girl friendship concept that would last through the rest of my teenage years: a girl would come along that you found entertaining and/or talented, you somehow felt a mild responsibility/desire to protect her against various kinds of barely-understood badness, but given the chance you'd make out with her in about two seconds flat.

At least that's the way my female friendships went in high school. Number of long-time "platonic" female friends eventually made out with by me: 7 or debatably 8 that I can remember without trying too hard, which suddenly sounds like a disturbingly high number. Fuck, is that pathology or mere opportunism? Nah, I'm gonna go with neither, I'm a pretty passive guy. Probably just hormones and alcohol. And friendliness.


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