March 1, 2012
Davy Jones died yesterday. Davy Jones of the Monkees, not the Locker. And I have to say – my heart is broken.
The Monkees – the pop Boy Band of my generation. Not thugs like the Stones, and a lot sillier than the Beatles, they really were a quintessential made-up, casting-call group like the Backstreet Boys and other bands that came later. The Monkees were called the Prefab Four because they had been cast for a TV show to play members of a failing band. Rumors that they had no musical ability ran rampant. And calling them “boys” was a bit of a stretch – in 1966, when their show went on the air, two of them (Mike and Peter) were 24 years old, and two were 21 (Davy and Micky).
I was ten years old in 1966.
But I loved them anyway. Well, I loved Davy anyway. The Boys in the Band, as it should be in all good Boy Bands, were different types, chosen to appeal to different types of girls. To me, Micky was a little too antic and weird; Peter too goofy; Mike too cerebral and, I suspected, probably bald under his pompom hat.
But Davy! True, he was short. But he’d been a jockey! And he’d been on Broadway! He was so natural and winning. He could dance. And he was beautiful – sleek, shiny hair; big, brown eyes; straight, white teeth – and that grin! I looked deeply into his photos and believed he looked straight at me, saw me, and approved. His grin said, “Come on! Come with me, and we’ll have fun!” He sang “Daydream Believer” to me.
Sparky doesn’t understand my broken heart. When I tried to explain it to him and ended up crying a little in bed, he said, “Robin, there’s life after the Monkees.” I’m not sure what that means. For Davy? Or for me?
It’s different for guys; they don’t have Girl Bands. And if they did, their experience would be different than it is for girls and their Boy Bands. For one thing, I’m sure (and I say this with deep love and affection, but we all know what boys want) their experience would be all about the potential sex; whereas, for girls, the connection is much broader and more profound. Well, there’s sex in it for girls, too, but a more chaste love of kissing and feeling and stopping at the brink. Because it’s love, not sex!
There’s a lot of learning involved in loving a Boy from a Band. We girls size up each of the Boys and try them on to see how they fit or if we need to make alterations, usually to ourselves. Mick Jagger – what kind of girl would I have to be to love and be loved by someone so surly and dangerous? Or by someone as pretty as Paul, antic as Micky, cerebral as Mike or spiritual as George? The answer is: Whatever he wants.
And what is it about the surliness, danger, looks, nuttiness, or spirituality that I could love? The answer is: Everything. We throw ourselves into our love; we practice unconditional, pure adoration. We sort through the Boys’ qualities and choose or discard the ones we want to find in real life and then love fiercely, with hearts on fire. We prepare ourselves for what it takes to love our real boyfriends and husbands. (As a teenager, I was a John girl, by the way – I loved his danger tempered with vulnerability and sweetness.)
With Davy, there was sweetness and humor and fun. He wasn’t dangerous – in fact, he could probably come over to your house, charm your mother, and talk sports with your father (I believed this about him long before the Brady Bunch episode). It was the prospect of laughter and fun that made my restless heart melt – even at ten years old.
Now, at his death, he was almost totally out of the limelight, and I really had forgotten him, for the most part, except when I fire up the turntable and play record after record when I’m feeling sad and restless, but I am shaken by his death. Not only by the fact that he was 66 (and what that says about my own age) and, realistically, getting to the age when death could happen any time, but also by the sheer number of years that have flown by (sorry – cliché) since I loved him so ardently.
I loved Davy when both of us were beautiful and powerful, when I thought my beauty and power would last forever, and I believed they were enough to make any boy love me. I loved him before I knew that love, so shiny and energizing, could tarnish and hold disappointment and sadness, before the loss of beauty and power.
Yes, Sparky, there is life after the Monkees – many, many years of good, well-lived, well-loved life for both Davy and me. But his death takes me back, just for a little while, to the burning love I felt for someone who didn’t know I existed, and which taught me so much about burning, real-life love.