And then I saw her in concert.
I've always unapologetically loved Madonna. She was a beautiful badass and I wanted to be just like her. I wore lace bows in my teased up hair in third grade and rocked an armful of rubber bracelets in fourth. I snuck in to see Truth Or Dare when it was in the theaters; I helped choreograph a dance to Vogue for my theater troupe's Christmas fundraiser. Even when I was so emo I wouldn't talk to anyone wearing colors, I still carried a torch for Madge and would frequently blast La Isla Bonita between Moz and Joy Division.
Then, you know, I got older. Madonna got weirder. I still listened to her a bit here and there but the thrill had gone. I thought she was strange and laughable with her fake British accent. I wondered why she worked out like a crazy person. Could a person's arms BE any freakier? Then last October my sister asked if I wanted to go see Madonna with her in Dallas. I said hell yes.
We splurged on the V.I.P. seats. We got a swag bag with Madonna shirts and posters and key chains. We dressed up for the occasion. (Pistol looked super cute, I looked like a gym teacher tripped and fell into a skirt. Here's a photo for evidence.) Madonna went on hours late. Our buzzes were gone and we were tired and pissy by the time she started. And then, then, we were delighted. Just fucking delighted.
She was everything I'd ever wanted her to be.
As I watched Madonna perform, I understood a few things very clearly. First of all, she looks PERFECT on stage. Amazing, in fact. And, we were pretty close. She couldn't look better. At one point she mooned everyone and showed off a perfect 50-something-year-old ass with "Obama" painted on it. (To a bunch of Texans. Ha.) No matter how weird you think she looks in terrible paparazzi pics, that chick looks exactly like she needs to look for what she does. Which is perform. Second, she was doing sick dance moves like a twenty-year-old. In stilettos. If she didn't work out all the freaking time, there's no way she'd be able to move like that. She was busting out fan kicks and back bends like a yogi master.
I left there thinking, what is the difference between Madonna and a ballerina? Or Madonna and an actress? We ignore the fact that professional dancers go to scary lengths to keep their bodies performing and looking hot in a leotard. We don't really let it bother us that the girl in our favorite television show looks like she should be fed through an IV in person because she looks good on camera. And Madonna looks good on stage. So, why do we care that Madonna is freakishly fit? She's a performer. She caters her looks and her fitness level to what she does. And what she does on stage is still amazing. It's her job.
***Disclaimer: I'm aware this is controversial. And I will admit that if she wasn't Madonna and she was my friend with, like, an office job or something, I'd be shoving ice cream down her throat and forcing her to skip the gym a couple of times a week because come on. But, we give passes to alcoholic comedians and quirky anorexic novelists so I'm giving Madge a pass here. Madonna, you have the right to bare your freaky arms.
So, yeah, I still love Madonna. Publicly. I'm publicly declaring my love. Creepy, scary, puzzling ropey arms and all.
*photo by fanpop.