Through years of casual observation, I’ve noticed that friends of mine either completely love or flat-out loathe The Doors. Doors front man Jim Morrison tends to be described as either “deity” or “buffoon,” depending on the person's mouth these words are falling out of, though not exclusively from each camp. I happen to like them, The Doors. Him. Jim.
It was probably my junior year in high school when I, for a lack of a better word, opened myself up to The Doors. The boys I crushed on usually talked about them in the midst of deep discussions of classic rock album catalogs, and since they rarely failed me in recommending music, I went to the local Target and picked up the two-disc Legacy compilation, a perfect Doors starter kit.
I went home and drew a bath, as was my usual nightly ritual, and put on Disc One in my bathroom-appointed CD player. The Doors’ first single, “Break On Through (To the Other Side),” off their self-titled debut album, poured from those tiny speakers, reverberating across the bathroom tiles.
You know the day destroys the night
Night divides the day
Tried to run
Tried to hide
Break on through to the other side
By the time "The End" came on, my bathwater had turned cold. I laid there mesmerized, unaware of my pruning violet fingertips or my pending homework. Unaware of the day, now almost over; of my little brothers or my parents; I was now looking well beyond those boys who recommended the music to me in the first place. I was a slate wiped clean, and one thing filled it back up- sexuality.
I know it's a cliché to wax on about how Jim Morrison was sex poured into leather pants, bellowing on about Native American Shaman and lizards, but it was the mix of dark and light that pulled me in. He was Dark and Mysterious, yes, but underneath it was a man dying for something sacred, as was I.
My makeshift bathroom séance was not the first time I’d heard of The Doors. Through my parents I had cultivated a love of classic rock in my early years. My dad would fill the house with Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd and, sometimes, even Neil Diamond. I remember my mother getting a wild hair up her ass one night and hijacking me from my room because she HAD to go pick up a copy of an Ozzy Osbourne album she realized she’d lost years ago. And so we drove home singing, riding the metaphorical "Crazy Train," and feeling, well, like a couple of wild and crazy broads. They had their jams, but The Doors were my thing. My parent's weren't that big on ‘em—they knew songs, but never bought any of their stuff. Meanwhile, my girlfriends mostly rejected The Doors right off the bat in favor of Dashboard Confessional (another post entirely) and music in the same vein. Again, that ‘60s L.A. foursome remained my thing.
The Doors’ music relaxes me in a way I struggle to put into words. It pulls out my inhibitions and replaces them with reckless abandon. I slip into a different skin entirely. Suddenly I’m a dog with my head sticking out of the car window. I’m jumping into the deep end with both feet, on a moonlight drive. And yes, I am ready and willing, onto the next Whiskey bar.
About a year ago, while celebrating a friend’s birthday, enough cocktails drove the conversation from giddy laughter into talk of strippers and strip clubs. I’d never been to one. "You know what we SHOULD do...."
As we walked into our designated gentleman’s club, the lighting instantly threw me off. Despite the half-naked entertainers working the club, I felt even more uncomfortable within my own clothed skin. I knew what the majority of the patrons were there for, but my intentions were more in the spirit of fun and games, like a reverse-bachelorette party. I felt a little weird knowing that by being there I was wasting these girls' time, as they were earning a living and I was merely taking up precious real estate, sipping my Midori Sours. I felt uptight and weird. Then my friend decided she was going to buy me a dance.
"Nooooo. No way. No. No. Nah uh. No."
"Yes. Just one. You have to. This is probably your first and only time here. I've had one before. They're fun!"
"No. Maybe. One more drink… And if I see a girl I like/respect/can talk to. Maaaaybe."
I texted Greg in various stages of my intoxication and regaled him with stories of who I saw and what could happen."
"You're just saying that because you're a guy."
"Well, don't do it if you're uncomfortable. But you ARE at a strip club. Trust your instincts."
I sat back down and waited for The Right Moment, noting the paying customers around me so I’d know what to do with my body language. Watching the dancers to see where mentally they were at. Normally I’d be much too emotionally sensitive to be in a strip club, but there I was. The hours passed; my Lap Dance Window closing. I would go down as a prudish square, on this the day of my friend’s birthday. And then....
And a girl. A lithe, blue-eyed blonde with all the tenacity in the world. A twenty was exchanged and I got my first and last lap dance. I tried to focus on just the song, and despite the fact that I was totally out of my element, at some point, it WAS fun. I felt like girl, a woman, in the oddest way. She may not have been Dark and Mysterious, but in a flurry of body glitter, distorted guitars and a faux-Shaman warning of Mister Mojo Rising, I broke on through.
Just the way Jim would've wanted it.
And here's a few of my favorite Doors tunes. Bathtub not required.