We all go through a phase where every second song on the radio seems to be sung especially for us. ‘It’s like it was written for me,’ we’ve cooed, while piously singing along, creating prophets out of boybands and holy grail out of CD sleeves. The last time I found myself a disciple of this religious order I was eighteen. Fresh out of high school, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and very much a babe in the woods; I was tacitly informed by the best-friend-of-the-day that the he-of-the-day had been haranguing the-girl-about-town for some attention. ‘C-r-a-ck,’ went my heart, and my carefully constructed reality thundered to the floor.
Thinking back, I’m grateful to have had my illusions snapped by reality. Like acne, it’s awkward to negotiate, visually jarring but essential to growing up. While reaching out for empathy in music, singing along at the top of my voice, I grew up, I learned to find a sense of self away from the admiration and affection I have for others. And my taste in music, well, I think it’s evolved.
But something unnerving’s happened.
I picked a thriller off my sister’s bookshelf a few days ago and while racing through the pages I found a near accurate portrayal of conversations I have with my friend Perry, like Perry Mason only smarter, younger and better looking. It was in fact an eerie portrayal not so much of me, which would be altogether too disconcerting but rather of Perry’s distinctive way of speaking; right up to his affinity for the word ‘bang’. A couple of days later, watching some odd Hugh Grant film I had a similar experience. This time Hugh Grant’s character reminded me of another friend, complete with his flair for the dramatic. I’m inclined to coo to these friends, ‘It’s like it was written about you.’ But I’m no longer eighteen. I have the three grey hairs, bad back and rapidly deteriorating eyesight to prove it. I like to think I’ve lost some claim to the silliness that previously predisposed me to seek out echoes of my own experiences in others. Or perhaps not- I do still own an embarrassing collection of Westlife albums…?
Could it be though, that we are more alike than we think and our idiosyncrasies are not at all that unique?