Wednesday, June 30, 2010

J'ai deux fois dix-huit ans

They say it's my birthday!  So what do you want to read more of on this blog?  I can't get into swiping news content and putting it up here, so I'm trying to figure out different ways to make a buck on this blog and have put up a little "subscribe" button on the top right, for $5 a month (not obligatory at all, even if it is my birthday!) But tell me what you'd like more of, or I'll just keep on rambling as usual. 

This past week I've had a few emotional bouts after pulling out the old CD collection and dusting off my favorite DALIDA disc.  I knew I had to pull her out when that dreaded 36th year arrived.  I used to listen to Dalida a lot when I lived in France.  She was Italian, born and raised in Egypt where she was crowned a beauty queen.  She moved to France and soon became a folk singer, a disco queen, an icon.

She's the #1 gay legend.  Catherine Deneuve is big.  There's another French singer --Mylene Farmer -- who is big, too.  The gays love Mylene because she is not afraid to cry.  She is a very emotional woman!  You must hear Mylene's concert LIVE from Bercy.  She's mid-melody and then suddenly breaks-down into a choking sob, struggling to go on.  The queens in the stadium expect this and scream wildly as if Mylene just scored a perfect 10 high dive: You can do it; you can power through Mylene.  Miraculously, she always does.

But the biggest of the big French gay legends has to be Dalida. 
Not solely because she has incredible songs and was a (semi cross-eyed) beauty, but primarily (I truly believe this) because in 1987 Dalida killed herself because she couldn't find true love.  How romantic is that?  Damn, you have got to love the French!

Dalida is buried in the Montmartre cemetery.  Please observe hers, the most fabulous tomb ever:

I have a photo of myself right behind the statue, gently cupping Dalida's breasts, taken in the days before digital photos.  I became a big fan of her music.  Of course she had some stinkers.  Her "Le Lambeth Walk" has to be the most annoying jig ever.  But her greatest hits are seriously great:  Paroles/Paroles, Mourir Sur Scene, Pour ne pas vivre seuele, Gigi L'Amoroso.


In fact, she keeps putting out new discs!  I believe she's sold more music since her death than she did in life.  Her brother Orlando keeps remixing, reimagining and reproducing her hits.  When I lived in Paris, I worked as a server at a restaurant in the Marais, serving the worst French brochettes you can imagine; shirtless with blinking rabbit ears on my head.  Orlando used to come in, wearing a terrible toupee -- and the go-go's would go crazy, my rabbit lights blinked faster, and the restaurant quickly put on a remixed Dalida hit - perhaps Salma ya Salama, or maybe my favorite: Il Venait d'Avoir Dix-Huit Ans.

This song was my favorite because it's a story-song.  "He'd just turned 18 years old" tells the tale of a desperate older woman who met a guy, just barely 18 years old, and Oh - they had some sloppy sex:

Il venait d'avoir dix-huit ans
Il etait beau comme un enfant
fort comme homme
C'etait l'ete evidemment
et j'ai compte en le voyant
mes nuits d'automne
J'ai mis de l'ordre a mes cheveux
un peu plus de noir sur mes yeux
ca l'a fait rire
Quand il s'est approche de moi
j'aurais donne n'importe quoi
pour le seduire
Il venait d'avoir dix-huit ans
C'etait le plus bel argument de sa victoire
Il ne m'a pas parle d'amour
Il pensait que les mots d'amour
sont derisoires
Il m'a dit : "J'ai envie de toi"
Il avait vu au cinema "le ble en herbe"
Au creux d'un lit improvise
j'ai decouvert emerveillee
un ciel superbe
Il venait d'avoir dix-huit ans
ca le rendait presque insolent de certitude
Et pendant qu'il se rhabillait
deja vaincue, je retrouvais ma solitude
J'aurais voulu le retenir
pourtant je l'ai laisse partir
sans faire un geste
Il m'a dit : "c'etait pas si mal"
avec la candeur infernale de sa jeunesse
J'ai mis de l'ordre a mes cheveux
un peu plus de noir sur mes yeux
par habitude
J'avais oublie simplement
que j'avais deux fois dix-huit ans

Allow me to make a bad semi-translation, enough for you to get the crux of this tragic poem:
He had just turned 18 years old.  He was beautiful like a child, strong like a man.  It was obviously summer, and I counted on seeing him my nights of autumn.  

I touched up my hair, put a little more black around my eyes.  That made him laugh. 

When he came near, I would have given anything for him to seduce him.  He didn't speak to me of love, he said words of love were ridiculous.  He said, "I want you".  

Nestled in an improvised bed, I discovered marvelously a superb heaven. 

He had just turned 18 years old.  That made him self-assuredly insolent.  While he got dressed, already conquered, I rediscovered my loneliness. I would have liked him to stay, but I let him go without a gest.
He said, "That wasn't so bad" with the infernal candor of his youth. 

I touched up my hair, put a little more black around my eyes; as usual.  

I'd simply forgotten I was twice 18 years old.

Twice 18 years old!  That was the kicker.  I used to sing this song over and over with my French friend Fabrice and how we laughed at the end.  What a pathetic woman!  We were 23 and could just picture the old hag, putting eyeliner on and thinking she still had it going on.  

I never thought for once back then that I would live to be twice 18 years old, but now I listen to the song and feel for her.  Cougars aren't so funny anymore from where I stand; 36 years old today. 

6 comments:

Casper said...

Ahh! Now I feel bad about my facebook comment about you being old... Just googled Dalia and the song and watched her sing it on youtube. It's fantastic! Keep in mind though 36 is not what it used to be... Could be worse. And hey -- it will be :)

Auntie M said...

Geez... I should have wished you happy birthday yesterday. It's not like I didn't know. Maybe my subscription will make up for it. xoxox and love.

Tony said...

Cher enfant -

Alors, tu as deux fois dix-huit ans. Trop mal. C’est n’est pas la mere a boire. Mieux que duex fois trente-quatre. Quand meme, tu es “beau comme un enfant, fort comme homme.” Bon anniversaire, mon petit garcon.

Anonymous said...

Thank you guys! I'm soooo old, my birthday is being stretched for a few more days thanks to friends and some cool party promoters!

Love,
Jesse
PS Auntie M-thanks for signing up!!

GloBoy said...

What a beautiful track. My moods haven't quite rebalanced since my visit, so its bringing a tear or two to my eyes. Thinking of the lost youth of my new friend!
-graham from yvr

Anonymous said...

twice 18, 36, or any other derivative of 18 is a jewish number for good luck (As you should already know). So, MAZEL TOV!!