We all have guilty pleasures, and when a friend recently asked me what mine was, I smiled the bittersweet smile of someone with a secret...
The answer rings out in heart- and yet, before now, I have only shared this with one other person: My super secret guilty pleasure is this:
my favorite song of all time, the one that always melts me in my gooey shmaltzy hopeless romantic center is Peter Cetera's "Glory of Love."
I'm finally confident enough to not give a f*ck about it possibly being the cheesiest song ever written- It is the Theme from Karate Kid II and it captured my soul. I simply adore it- the melody is so sweet and the lyrics speak to my core, which is apparently made entirely out of kitten whiskers and marshmallow. I heard it for the first time growing up in Omaha, and when I heard a song about a man being a knight in shining armor (from a long time ago) I would've been running around in the woods wearing a cardboard suit of armor myself. As the music floated from construction site radios through the woods and into the ravine where I chased imaginary dragons, I began to wonder if someday I would meet another knight in shining armor who would keep the woods safe with me.
(I was a strange child.)
The following is the true story of how this innocent, romantic love song was absolutely ruined for me... It was some birthday or other in the 2000's, and I was feeling hopeful. I'd been with my boyfriend for a few years and had only recently been comfortable enough to open up to him about my love for this song during a conversation about how we didn't really have an "our song." Regretfully I knew it couldn't be "Glory of Love," because as much as I would've loved to attribute those lyrics to our relationship, he had already weaseled out of several opportunities to "be the man who fights for my honor." Non-confrontation was his method of choice, and he had yet to display any qualities I'd describe as "heroic."
He'd cheated on me twice at that point, and as much as I stubbornly tried to fit that square peg into the round hole, I could not apply the Greatest Love Song Evaaaaar to us. But, as now, I was then- super romantic. I wanted it to be our song. Because we never really let go of those fantasies. Unfortunately, as turned out he had a fantasy of his own...
I am actively trying not to throw up in my mouth as I recall what happened next...
The night of my birthday, I was going to spend at his place. I was in my early 20's, but I still lived at home and strict parents made this a rarity. He assured me he had a super romantic night planned, and I was all aflutter with the anticipation the evening. He lead me to his bedroom and set me down, sitting upright on the waterbed my parents had given him to use.
He then blindfolded me, kissing me sweetly and turning the lights down. I heard the familiar sounds of a CD being opened and his CD player opening and closing. The familiar electric whir of the disc spun, and even before I heard the first notes, I knew: he'd bought "Glory of Love," and was playing it for me on Romantic Birthday Night! "EEeeee!" I said, reaching for the blindfold. "Wait," he said. "Not yet..." I then heard some unfamiliar sounds. Something being taken out of a small cardboard container?
Then I heard another familiar sound. A zipper and jeans falling to the floor. Hrm. This didn't quite seem right... As Peter Cetera sang his hopeful lines about being strong when we're together, and true love, and my childhood memories of the knight in shining armor came shimmering back from my mind, he lifted the blindfold off.
He stood in front of me, with his dick inches from my face, wearing nothing but a cockring and an expectant smile.
"Well? What do you think?" he asked proudly, arms akimbo like a pornographic Peter Pan.
I didn't want to embarrass him or appear ungrateful, but while I searched for the right reaction, some part of that fantasy shattered and a few confused tears escaped my eyes, rolling down my cheeks. I had no words as the little girl in the woods in her cardboard armor stared up in horror. I mentally bid her to run and hide- I had no clue what to do with him.
I wasn't expecting to be presented with the expectation of a blow job... on MY BIRTHDAY. TO PETER CETERA.
"Nooooo..." I think I must've said, quietly. I remember turning my face away and apologizing- I couldn't understand why I was crying so much- I didn't realize I was grieving the murder of yet another expectation. He kissed me, hugged me, put his pants on and kissed me and hugged me more. He said he understood, he just thought since I liked the song and he liked blow jobs, it'd be fun for both of us.
"It was a sweet thought," I said. I think even I convinced myself I meant it, at the time.
He made a few more attempts at romantic gestures over the next several years. Although a bit of a showy spectacle, he did manage a very sweet proposal. He continued to ignore Valentines' Days, with the exception of filing for divorce on a February 14th. But we never spoke again about Peter Cetera, or "The Glory Of Love," or the infamous Cockring Incident. In fact, I hadn't listened to that song in ages, which is sad since it had been such a high benchmark throughout the years I'd lowered my standards.
I played the song today, after my friend reminded me about guilty pleasures, and as I watched the video on YouTube, I smiled. After all, after 14 years of Martial Arts, hadn't I become my own Karate Kid? Somewhere in a forest in my mind, a little blue-eyed knight pops cautiously from behind a tree. Come on out, Small One. Dust off your armor- we have some dragons to chase together, just us.