Not two weeks before, a video of Prince singing “Starfish and Coffee” on the Muppet Show popped up on my Facebook feed. I don’t know why. It hadn’t been posted by anyone I know. It was really random, the posting of a friend of a “friend,” I suppose. But I stopped and watched it. It’s kinda magical.
On Facebook, I wrote,’
I’d forgotten how much I love this song. And Prince. And Muppets.
Listening to the song made me think of a friend of mine, so I asked her if she’d turned me on to it way back in the day. She said,
Oh yea! This was one of my faves on that album.
And I said,
It is so good! Gives me goosebumps and tears. Thanks for sharing it with me way back when.
I love how everything is the song’s video is in black and white except for vivid, full-color Cynthia Rose. I love the line If you set your mind free, baby Maybe you’d understand. I love the part where Prince and the Cynthia Rose Muppet are dancing, and I loved how much fun Prince seemed to be having with the whole thing.
And then less than two weeks later, I talked to my Computer Guy on the phone before we went in to do our respective jobs. We were just shooting the shit, because neither of us knew yet.
Two hours later I went out to my van for my break and turned on my phone to check my messages. Nolagirl and I texted our usual good mornings, then she wrote to me,
FYI Prince died. 57 years old.
I wrote back,
WHAT??????? How? Fuck! Fuck! Fuck. That is fucking tragic. Goodbye my youth.
I was just watching the Muppet Show video the other day and remembering how brilliant he was.
Part of me is not sure I should even be mourning. It’s not as if I listened to Prince’s music all the time or bought any of his albums since the last century or even had any idea what the man was up to, musically or otherwise. But honestly, I felt like there was suddenly an emptiness in my heart.
I went to the grand opening of a 10,000 square foot international grocery store with a friend. It was a Sunday afternoon and the place was packed. The soundtrack? A tribute to Prince. On a loop. It kept playing over and over again. We heard it four times before we got out of there.
The shocking part was when “Darling Nikki” was pumped out over the noise of a couple hundred people shopping. I gasped, honestly shocked. You remember “Darling Nikki,” right?
I knew a girl named Nikki
I guess you could say she was a sex fiend
I met her in a hotel lobby
Masturbating with a magazine
Let me tell you, circa 1984 when a girl name Desiree told me about the song while we stood in the junior high lunch line, I NEVER thought I would hear that song in public, much less in a supermarket crowded with Asian people of all ages. I was glad I was not on drugs because then I’d have to spend the rest of my life wondering if it had really happened. But yeah, it really happened. Prince was dead, and I was hearing “Darling Nikki” played in a supermarket.
(Side note: For years, I thought the magazine was the actual instrument of masturbation. Only embarrassingly recently did it occur to me that Nikki was simply looking at the magazine while masturbating, only using it as visual stimulation.)
I just kept getting sadder and sadder.
Of course, as I believe is often (usually) the case with death, it wasn’t Prince I was feeling sorry for as much as I was feeling sorry for myself. I believe wherever Prince is, he’s feeling no pain. I’m not sure if he’s in Heaven, although Prince in Heaven does lead to some delicious scenarios.
Prince in Heaven scenario #1: Prince and Jimi Hendrix and Jerry Garcia are jamming for eternity and they never get tired, and they never get sad, and they never even have to stop the music to do drugs because who needs drugs anymore because they’re in Heaven and Dude, the MUSIC!
Prince in Heaven scenario #2: My grandmother who was a racist on earth is now up in Heaven listening to Prince and Michael Jackson and Ray Charles and Whitney Houston and Jimi Hendrix and Otis Redding and Marvin Gaye sing to her, and she is digging it.
But I digress.
I feel like losing Prince is really the loss of my youth.
I didn’t feel that way when Michael Jackson died, although his death was a shock too. I never felt as if Michael Jackson belonged to me. My parents liked Micheal Jackson, for Christ’s sake. They bought the Thriller LP. It sat in the stereo case with the Jan and Dean record given to my mom by an old suitor, the Footloose soundtrack, and my dad’s Cajun music records.
When I was in junior high and on into high school, Prince was dirty and sexual and naughty and exciting and everything my stupid, boring life in a small Southern town was not. And he had great clothes. All that velvet. All that lace.
Prince was hope, to this small town Southern girl who didn’t fit in, who was never going to fit in. Prince was hope that there was a big world out there with parties and fun, a world where it was ok if I was weird, a world where sex wasn’t terrifying, but fun.
And now he’s gone, and so is my hope.
I’m right in the middle of my middle age, fat and unattractive, and it’s all downhill from here.
I should have drunk more beer and taken more drugs and fucked more while I could, because it’s all downhill from here. Prince is gone, and I’m not getting any younger.
Is this how our mothers felt when Elvis died?
I made the tribute to Prince in the photo. I took the photo too. I got the “Prince of Peace” Christmas tree ornament from the free pile at the 2017 RTR. I also found the photo of Prince in a tabloid-style magazine in the free pile. The peace sign is a bead from my hemp jewelry days.