I was making meatloaf — the first time in about a decade that I’ve attempted the infamously dry American dinner staple. Normally while cooking, I listen to Govi’s “Andalusian Nights” (because I’m addicted to Spanish guitar and Romani music styles from the region of Andalusia), but for some reason, I scrolled down and landed on another album in my playlist, Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf’s “Bat Out of Hell”. I wasn’t really thinking about it, just that I was making a new recipe and wanted something more power-charged to get me through the slew of ingredients I needed to gather, chop, saute, and caramelize. I was cooking other things, too (bell peppers and friend eggplant), so I was only half listening to the album. Yet, I was sort of singing along to this album I haven’t listened to in forever.
I first heard “Bat Out of Hell” at my friend Ronny’s house over 20 years ago. But I remember being absolutely engaged in every note, both instrumental and vocal. Being much younger, the album was interesting technically, especially the twist in the lyrics, but at the time, I was more concerned with the songs’ “money notes” for me as a singer, particularly the ballads.
Tonight, as I took the meatloaf out of the oven, it was brought to my attention (by my daughter) that I was listening to Meat Loaf. I laughed. How ironic, yes? Well, since I haven’t actually listened with full attention to the album in 20 years, I decided to listen (actively listen) to the whole “Bat Out of Hell” album after dinner.
I sat on my sofa, cushioned by pillows, the tree lights to my left and a small lamp to my right, and headphones on my ears. The first track — the title song — played, and it was as if I’d never been away. I remembered the song and almost all of the lyrics as I sang along. The second song was next, and again, I laughed and sang.
The third song came on, and that is when things changed. A couple of lines into “Heaven Can Wait”, I was crying. That’s when it really hit me what this whole album is about: a man, who’s looking for the simple, uncomplicated hook-up, who will leave like a “bat out of hell” before morning, experiences conflict when facing the emotional aspect of being with someone who actually matters to him.
As the song played on, and the tempi changed, and the styles ran the gamut from 1970’s rock to rockabilly 8-to-the-bar, the true meanings of these songs continued to hit me, over and over. I thought back to when I had a slight panic attack a while back, realizing that I was terrified of intimacy with a man because it would mean being real, not putting on airs, or pretending there isn’t more to me than just breasts and long red hair, or stuffing my own needs down so as not to burden the man with inconvenient, icky things like … honesty, sincerity, and emotions.
The songs explore this “all-American boy” who is “lookin’ for something to do” and “all revved up with no place to go”. He gets “a taste of paradise” with “an all-American girl”, and as long as it’s just physical, everything is okay. But then she wants to know if he loves her. His answer: “I want you. I need you, but there ain’t no what I’m ever going to love you.”
He tells the tale of being rebuffed by a woman in his past. She left him on a stormy night, and he begged her not to leave; but she told him how she could never love him. That experience of rejection and having his heart broken built walls within him that he is not willing to dismantle. And so he treats women with the same cold indifference.
I’m not going to excuse the other woman’s behaviour, but how many men had done the same thing to her to avoid emotional entanglement, when they probably only wanted to get laid or were scared of emotional attachment? She probably adopted those same patterns to prevent getting hurt again, and thus, continues the cycle of avoidance and hurt, which the male character in “Bat Out of Hell” now displays towards the girl he is with.
Just as he’s about to get to “fourth base” with the girl, she stops everything and asks, “Do you love me? Will you love me forever? Do you need me? Will you never leave me?” There are two problems here: 1) Women using sex to get love, and 2) The all-or-nothing deal-breaker of the hyperbolic concept of “forever”.
Women: Just stop playing games; you’re better than that. Now, I cannot do one-night stands or hook-up sex — it’s just not something I want. I need an emotional connection with a partner. But I certainly remember that feeling as a teenager of wanting to be loved and sensing that irritated frustration from a guy who would say anything just so long as I let him touch me and kiss me. Then he’d get mad when I didn’t want him to go further — somehow his anger was my fault. Playing the game is easier, but not necessarily better for you and your sense of self-worth.
Everyone: Stop trying to predict the future; be with the person who makes you happy, makes you laugh, and appreciates you for who you are and doesn’t try to change you. Due to the conditioning of romance novels, movies, and princess-genre animated films in which “forever” is the only option for a woman, especially where her reputation is concerned. This is an antiquated view of women, our sexuality, and sexual happiness. Most relationships do not last forever, so it puts unnecessary pressure on two people to force things to work out. As one of the songs opines, “I’m praying for the end of time, so I can end my time with you.”
The lead character responds to her question that he’ll give her an answer in the morning. At least he didn’t outright lie just to tell her what she wanted to hear. That is almost more painful in the long-run.
As I listened to “For Crying Out Loud”, the tears came even harder. This phrase is usually said in exasperation, “Oh, for crying out loud….” And he sings that way at first: “I know you belong inside my aching heart…. I’m gonna need somebody to make me feel like you do.” And he says, “For crying out loud, you know I love you.”
Why does it take so much effort for a man to express his feelings? Is it really 2,500 years of patriarchy that have tried to create each successive generation of men as emotionally void and demonstratively robotic as their “strong, silent type” predecessors? Not every man has this problem of expressing his feelings, but most of them do.
And after the virtuoso piano-playing, the strings ensemble filling in the lush orchestral sound, and the timpani pounding out the big crescendo, the twist comes. He reveals that yes, he does want her and need her, and more. For giving him answers, “for that, I thank you”; and for keeping him going when he wanted to stop, “for that I want you…. But most of all, for crying out loud, for that, I love you.”
I’ve written many times how my orgasms are emotional experiences for me, and if I don’t cry afterward (or during), the sensual adventure does not feel complete. I’m left still wanting that emotional, sensual fulfillment to come full-circle with the physical pyrotechnics of climax. I need emotion, and I need a man who understands that having and expressing emotion is normal, good, and healing.
This past Sunday, I spent the evening at a friend’s Winter Solstice ritual. I haven’t spent a lot of time with pagan men in the past several years — I’ve been too busy just trying to keep my head above water as a single mom. But being around these men — men who worship the feminine aspect of the divine and who have no problem talking about their love of the goddess — was a breath of fresh air for me. To hear men talk respectfully about women, to not hear one derogatory joke about women, was amazing. It was so different to what I usually read on “friends'” walls on Facebook and certainly more woman-friendly that a lot of what I see on Twitter and Tumblr.
So, thank you, pagan, goddess-lovin’, dirt-worshiping witchy men. You give me hope that one day I can find my own nature-lovin’, yoni-worshiping, bohemian, music-makin’, heathen man who can love me for crying out loud.
Aroused and emoting,
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