"Good Girls Don't", "Round Heals", 1 Corinthians 7:9, 1979, Alice Cooper- "I'm Eighteen", Euripedes- "The Bacchae", Saint Augustine- "Lord make me pure but not yet", Ten CC- "I'm Not In Love", The Knack, The Knack- "Good Girls Don't", Tina Turner- "What's Love Got To With It?"
I may be the only person in the world who ties The Knack’s, “Good Girls Don’t,” with Euripedes’, “The Bacchae.” Back in 1979, “Good Girls Don’t” made it all the way to number eleven on Billboard’s top 100. The song’s chorus of, “Good girls don’t, Good girls don’t, But she’ll be telling you, Good girls don’t, but I do,” is a succinct spotlight on the intersection of moral imperative and biological necessity. When raw young hormones slap against rigid, moralistic prohibitions something’s got to give and it’s usually chastity.
Despite the loosening of sexual restrictions that has occurred in the United States in the forty years since “Good Girls Don’t” debuted there’s still plenty of “good girls” out there; youths afflicted with the pull of sexual attraction who are also conflicted with moral codes that scream, “No sex before marriage!” It’s enough to drive a young man or woman over the edge, or, as the case may be, into an early and hasty marriage.
I mean, hey, if gonads are screaming then youngsters’ll be scheming, and if the only honorable way to scratch a biological imperative is matrimony then, “Thy will be done, and here I cum!” Insistence on rigid moral imperatives back our children into doing some pretty silly things. Arbitrary moral codes that are both contrary to natural urges and ultra-rigid can easily lead “good” girls or boys to angst, rebellion, or early marriage. Who was it that said, “It is better to marry than to burn with lust”?
In 1979 I was a “good” boy, conflicted, hormone driven, hell-bent on doing the right thing and absolutely obsessed with carnal release. My moral code was screaming, “No, no, no, no!” while my desires demanded, “Go, go, go, go!” A tough situation for anyone, yet alone a “good” boy. Rigid proclamations concerning the base nature of our corporeal shells did nothing but keep me ignorant, guilt-ridden and secretive, the unholy trinity of sexual development.
Nineteen-seventy-eight ended with me splitting with my girlfriend of three-and-a half years. She was great but latching onto and cleaving unto a-one-and-only from freshman year onward had grown stale. My first and I flirted with carnality, okay, dabbled, but we refrained from consummation. It wasn’t until the spring of seventy-nine that either she or I progressed from outer to intercourse, both with partners that did not matter to us nor we to them. What did love had to do with it? Not one damn thing, Tina.
“Good Girls Don’t” was released in August of 1979, the month that I became a college student. I was eighteen and I didn’t know what I wanted. Okay, maybe I did, but my good boy self was mighty conflicted.
I had gone twelve months without a steady when I started dating my ex’s good friend. She was hot, but unlike the Ten CC singer who falsely declares he’s not in love I definitely was not. In lust? Ten-four. In love? Nope.
I returned to steady status but felt even guiltier than I had in high school. Then I had been head-over-heals, here I was just counting on hers being round. Our outer course was a physical release (For me!) but she wanted love, something I could not give her.
What does any of this have to do with Euripides and his “Bacchae?” Plenty. In addition to being brought up with a rigid moral code I was likewise reared in the school that touts thinking as always superior to feeling and that only fools or weaklings allow torrents of emotion to control them. I walked into The Bacchae with my college G.F., conflicted about sexual release but certain of Intellect’s superiority over Emotion and I left with an eyes-wide-open wonder-filled, “Oh, my God!” inkling of the importance of letting go and being in the now every once in a while. I mean, Thebes’ King Pentheus is ripped limb from limb because he refuses to acknowledge the power and importance of the irrational and sensual parts of humans.
Whoa! Note to self: Do NOT be that guy!
I still am, but, just as Dionysus demands, not all the time, and, more importantly, I understand the importance of letting go every once in a while. Over thinker? Sure, but also an over feeler.
My first girlfriend is doing fine. She was a heavy influence on my love of theatre. My college freshman fling and I remain friends and the woman who took my virginity? No idea. I met my wife a year after high school graduation, just after slinking away from college G.F., so obviously I did heed Paul the Turk’s advice and marry, but, just like Saint Augustine, I asked God to, “Make me pure, but not yet, Lord, not yet.”
Here’s to balance, morals, ethics, wine, and making sense. May we all find a proper path to fulfillment.