Monday, February 17, 2014

Just a Boy

The idea of an inter-generational romance is not new. Sometimes accepted as "May-December romance," sometimes derided as "cradle robbing," it is a fraught subject. Terms like "MILF" and "twink" are just the latest in a long line of attempts to deal with this, shall we say, phenomenon... going back through the movies The Graduate and Harold and Maude, the song "Maggie Mae," the novel Lolita, and even, in a way, all the way to the tale of Oedipus.

This time, we get a touch of foreshadowing in the title itself. The first verse is still circumspect: "I am just a boy/ Not a... man/ But your love gives me strength/ To do the best I can." This speaks to the age of the male speaker, not his subject.

But no doubt can be had after the second verse. Here, he more pointedly contrasts the two of them. He is "unwise and full of fears." But she counters that with "the wisdom of many years."

Yes, we have just unquestionably entered-- as the TV show title would have it-- Cougar Town.

While there are many rites of passage in every culture that delineate the passage to adulthood, one can be deemed universal-- the one in the chorus: "Though I'm young/ I still can understand/ Your love, someday/ Will turn this boy into a man."

The "someday" gives us hope. Perhaps this is a crush on a teacher or a friend's older sister or (we hope) single mother. But it is clear that this, um, "relationship"-- and the older person in question might not even be aware of it-- has not yet been consummated. So no investigations or lawsuits are pending. Yet.

The last verse seems to throw a wrench into our theory: "Though I'm just a boy/ On this, you can rely/ You are just the girl/ I will love till I die." Still, it is doubtful that his calling her a "girl" means that we are wrong and that she in fact is one; he has already said he has "may years." Rather, it is probably a compliment: "I don't see you as 'old'! In my eyes, you are youthful like me, and so a totally appropriate choice for me (even if you are not, technically, 'young')."

The situation is common, and so the sentiments are. The idea that "I am in high school, but everyone else my age might as well be in grade school, as I am so much more mature" is often followed by "and therefore, I can only love someone as mature as I... someone already past high-school age." Finding such a target of one's aspirational affections is not hard, and such songs are the next logical step.

Let us hope that this is a schoolboy crush on a teacher or something, and that (despite his protests of love unending) he will soon find someone more appropriate before restraining orders are brought to bear. If he does confess his feelings, she is, we hope, able to use her "many-yeared wisdom" to break his heart gently.

Next Song: Forgive Me

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