Tag Archives: fear

Hit By Car

31 Jan

Last Saturday, we skipped cleaning the apartment and calling my parents in favor of going to the zoo.  We love zoos, and last time we went to the Phoenix Zoo (our first time since moving here) we hadn’t realized it closes at 4 PM.  So we had missed 1/3 of it.

We dressed in our brightest orange shirts.  Little known secret-if you dress in super-bright colors you see more animals, better.  The animals will come out of hiding places, wake up, and engage with YOU because you are bright and interesting to them.  We learned of this at Salt Lake City’s Tracy Aviary.  A bird was in the middle of a training session in preparation for the open air show they do.  It saw Cool in a bright shirt, and flew away from its trainer to check her out.  Ever since then, we have been an effort to make sure and wear our brights–I usually do, anyway.

Navigating parking isn’t fun.  It sucks enjoyment out of it for me because I don’t like driving, dealing with traffic and unfamiliar roads, or finding/paying for parking.  We moved to this apartment in part, because it’s within a reasonable walking distance to the light rail.  It’s 1.8 (maybe 0.8?) miles walk.  Easy for us since we are constantly walking to the canal to run, walking around the city to explore, and walking for exercise or enjoyment.  We’ve walked more than 3 miles at a time at least 4 times in the last month, and one day we went 7 miles.  It’s routine.  Anyway, we walked to rail and went to the zoo on public transportation.

Our day at the zoo was really fun.  Many exciting things happened.  But this particular post isn’t about that.  We made a full day of it and got tired so decided to head home around 1:30 or 2 in the afternoon.  We commented how rail is the worst on the way home, because it’s so easy just to drive and be directly, and quickly there.  Alas, we walked to the stop, waited for one to come, endured many stops, and got out at the stop closest to home.  Then, we just had to walk the last couple of miles as we have done so many times before.

At the last intersection before home we had to cross south, then cross west before walking the last block home.  The light is always long at that intersection.  The traffic was heavy in all directions, being a Saturday afternoon.  2 bikes and another walker (or was it 2 walkers and a bike?) were waiting opposite us to cross north.  Finally, the light changed, we got our walk sign, and began to cross-as did everybody else.  There are 3 lanes in each direction, and the 4 main ones were all full of cars waiting at the red light, ready to speed westward when our turn was finished.  What wasn’t full was the right-most lane.

Cool usually walks slower than I do.  She nearly always lags behind me, so that I’m constantly nagging her to catch up/keep up.  That day, she was out in front.  I don’t know why.  She was halfway across the first lane and I was a little in the intersection, when a black car came up.  Time slowed down and I had several thoughts as this happened

The car will slow down

The front bumper of this car is literally touching my shins

When this car stops, I’m going to look up and glare at the driver-asshole!

Simultaneously:

I have to jump back to get out from in front of this car

and

Cool is too far away, I can neither pull her back out of the road, nor push her forward out of the way.

The car is NOT stopping!

The black car, which had a Jimmy John’s sign on the driver’s side roof HIT Cool.  She was just past the center point of the front hood.  The car almost hit her right at its middle point–this was not like me, an almost got hit.  It was also not, feel the wind a close call.  Cool didn’t get hit a little on a corner or at an angle.  She got hit in the center of the car, because she was in the center of the lane–maybe just past it.

It struck me (pun) how hard Cool was hit.  I couldn’t believe my eyes, and my brain was astonished that this was really happening.  The car making a right turn on red (west bound with intention of heading north-bound) when it struck Cool hard.

What my brain also noticed was that instead of going down and under like I’d thought, Cool was lifted off her feet.  She hit the hood of the car with everything from her ankles up.  Physics are sometimes counterintuitive.

And she hit hard, with a dramatic crunching sound.  It ran through my mind that a lot of people might saaay they’ve been “hit by a car,” when what they really mean is they had a close call, got pinged by a little edge of the car, or felt the wind.  I thought-Cool is getting hit by a car–for real.

Then, she bounced off the car and into the street.  I didn’t really see her land, because my attention turned to the driver.  I was furious!  The driver  only noticed people in the crosswalk AFTER Cool bounced off her car.  Even though we had the right of way, and both of us were in bright ORANGE shirts.  She had been on her cell phone.

The driver opened the door and leaned halfway out, black curly hair coming out wildly from under the black Jimmy John’s cap.  She was wild-eyed in terror and said, “should I call an ambulance?!”  I looked right at her and yelled, “Pay attention!”  She totally ignored me and panic-stricken repeated, “Do you need me to call an ambulance?” And I repeated, “You need to pay attention!

Then I turned my attention back to Cool, who was sitting up in the road.  She looked to be in one piece.  I didn’t see anything dramatic wrong with her.  And she looked like she was in shock, but not brain-damaged.  Her eyes and face looked OK to me.

All I thought was, we need to get home.  I didn’t want a repeat of the snowboard incident (that took us 4 years to pay off) so I wanted to get her home.  I tugged on her arm, trying to help her up and said, “get up, get up.”  She didn’t attempt to get up at all, and I knew she was in shock after taking a big hit like that.  I coaxed, “please get up, c’mon get up, get up, honey, get up.”  She thought for a minute, then stood up.

She made a shuddering sound and I thought she might cry.  Which is fine, but we were in the middle of the street, and I also didn’t want her to think too much so that she collapsed and we couldn’t get home.

Cool has been known to be a hypochondriac, and this was a ‘for-real’ big thing, so I didn’t want her to think about it and aggrandize it any bigger than it already was.  I figured we would get her out of the busy street, get her inside the house so I didn’t have to carry her or something, and THEN we would take an inventory of the damage and deal with whatever from there.

She limped as we walked the rest of the way through the crosswalk, and I didn’t know what injuries she might have sustained or the severity of them.  But I didn’t want to find out in the middle of the desert street.

I was obviously distracted, but I don’t remember any of the other pedestrians crossing the way actually stopping.  And I can’t recall any of them voicing concern, or asking Cool if she was OK.  I think they just continued on their way.

The other thing I think  I remember, but I’m not sure, and it doesn’t seem right, is I think I saw we still had 13 seconds on the crosswalk countdown.  But that doesn’t seem right at all, so much happened, I don’t know how it could have been that fast. . .  But I don’t think the traffic went through and the light changed cycles either.

On the way across, one of the drivers of a car waiting at the red light rolled down their window and asked if Cool was alright.  I don’t remember what either of us answered, but I thought that was nice of him.

Then, I don’t know if I was preoccupied with worry, or also in shock, but I don’t remember waiting for the next crosswalk sign.  We had to now cross the other street in the intersection west, and I remember standing there a long time.  I remember  Cool seemed like she might start crying again, and I told her she could cry, but please wait til we were safely home.  And I remember another bicyclist was waiting also, to cross south where we had just come from.  I think he missed the incident, because he told me we could cross, but when I looked up I’m sure I saw the red hand.  So I don’t know if we were out of it and missed our turn, or if he saw no cars so he suggested we shouldn’t wait for our signal or what.  But I saw the red hand and told him she was just literally hit by a car, we’re not taking any chances.

I thought I should call Jimmy John’s and report their careless driver.  Mostly, I wanted them to reprimand her, and send a company-wide message to not be using cell phones while making deliveries.  I called the closest location, and the manager wasn’t helpful.  She kept (pretending) not to hear my story of what just happened, and didn’t really want to deal with me.  She ended the call by saying that no female delivery drivers were actually on the schedule–now.  I called the other closest branch, and that manager said he doesn’t even have any females employed as delivary drivers.  The third, farther location didn’t really make sense, but I called and some dope answered.  Turns out, the dope WAS the manager, and in charge of scheduling, but also didn’t have any females driving that day.  I asked to speak to HIS boss.  He told me he didn’t have the phone #.  I asked for the corporate number, and he did seem to take a while to try to find it–I could hear him shuffling papers, then typing.  I feel this ought to be easily found, but he never could help me and he sent me to the internet.

We got home, and I was busy trying to find corporate Jimmy John’s.  When I finally did, they had regular business hours only M-F 9-5–must be nice.

Cool seemed OK when we got home.  Her clothes were half ruined–covered with a fat stripe of road tar.  And her elbow and knee had the same road-rash tar scrapes.  She complained 1 little spot of her jaw hurt, and there was a lump.  Other than that, there was nothing to even take pictures of.  She was sore, but nothing big happened.  Thank goodness–that’s not usually our life!

She took a shower right then, because I was afraid signs of concussion might come on and she wouldn’t be able to stand.  We tried to scrub tar out of her wounds, but there were a lot of micro-scraps from the asphalt and the tar was pretty well embedded.

Luckily, she was OK. It was still one of the scariest things that has ever happened!

Kelsea Ballerini talks to Taylor Swift, Figurative Homecoming Queen, About Coming Out

23 Jan

I know this song is probably about Kelsea, herself. But I found a lot of compelling call-backs to Taylor’s lyrics and life. I think lyrics can have a surface-level meaning, and a deeper, more hidden secondary interpretation. Given Kelsea’s lyrics and videos I also think Kelsea and Taylor were together in some capacity, so Kelsea might have written this song with Taylor in mind.

Hey homecoming queen

Before I get into my research I will tell a story about my high school’s homecoming queen:

My Senior year the school voted Stephanie (name changed to the most common female name in my school for privacy) as our Homecoming Queen. Stephanie had been on cheerleading all 4 years of high school, but she wasn’t the “typical” popular girl represented in movies. I hadn’t thought of her as the most popular girl in school either, though she hung out in the most popular group of girls in my high school. As a matter of fact when her and her sister moved to our small, rural town in seventh grade, everyone made fun of Stephanie (her sister was a grade below so I’m not sure what her experience had been). Stephanie was in my peripheral friend group in middle school and sat with us in English class. She seemed well-intentioned and considerate, but I never knew her very well, because she also seemed uncomfortable and shy. My small class had known each other since kindergarten so anyone new was an anomaly and outsider just because they had already missed so much. I’m sure she felt that. Also, the boys were dicks.

In high school everything changed for her. Stephanie was kind and unproblematic, so she was easy to like. We carpooled to cheerleading practice all summer, and our birthdays are only two days apart so we had that in common. She came to my sixteenth birthday party and was nice to everyone, but we were never the type of friends that told each other secrets or anything like that. I don’t think she got very close with too many people…

Though she was thin, she preferred to base stunts, showing her strength by lifting other girls high in the air. She was determined and practiced hard–she was not in cheerleading just to look cute or gain popularity-though she did both of those things too. Stephanie (and her sister) were the type of pretty that stood out in our year books. They were beautiful and probably could have even modeled if they had wanted to (and had the financial backing to do so). But Stephanie was not just gorgeous, at practice Stephanie was always strong and tough, and I think she had to be resilient outside of practice too. Stephanie’s parents were divorced but lived together for financial reasons. Once her dad came to cheerleading practice drunk and the vice principal had to tell him to leave. The sisters were devastated and embarrassed, but we never heard details or saw anything like that again. You would never know there were family issues or poverty or anything aside from that one small peek into their world. The sisters excelled at academics and participated in cheer, and were well-liked and never let on anything was wrong. Stephanie dated the star kicker on the football team long-term, and they both just seemed nice. I think she leaned on him for support and they were together a lot. Her mom asked him to buy her cigarettes because he was a bit older.

When Stephanie was crowned homecoming queen I was happy for her. I was glad a genuinely kindhearted person won the coveted title. And just to end this little story, based off of Facebook, I think her and her sister both have happy lives. Stephanie joined the Coast Guard (I told you she was gritty and fit!) for a bit and is now married and has at least one child. Her sister got married and looked very happy and may have children as well (IDK I deleted sketchy Facebook so now I don’t know anything about anybody anymore). To sum up, homecoming queens are pretty and popular, but I think they also have to be smart, involved in school, and personable. And they have problems just like the rest of us.

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Taylor Swift was never a homecoming queen:

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Taylor never got to experience many high school milestones because she was working on her career. Yet, Taylor’s career epitomizes what it is to be the homecoming queen. She is beautiful and popular. Also, Taylor’s celebrity is crafted on the every-girl image. She portrays herself as one of us, and has actually reached out to fans on a “personal” level. Taylor is smart and a role model. She told us in several songs about having the crown during her career.

Adjacent but related:

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Part of me feels sorry that Taylor had to miss milestones that mark an (American) teenager’s life. The other part remembers her career has been so exciting, acclimatory, and lucrative that it’s difficult to quite see her as a tragic figure.

Anyway, I can see why Kelsea, an underclassman to Taylor in age and career, might see Taylor as emblematic of a homecoming queen.

Why do you lie/When somebody’s mean?

Common word or intentional call-back to Taylor’s song, Mean?

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We know Taylor is afraid of criticism, and is fretful about her public image:

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Taylor and Kelsea are 4 years apart in age.

For example in 2003, this legislation was passed:

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Since Taylor was 14 years old, a teenager, this might have made an impact on her views of sexuality [socially unacceptable to be anything other than straight]. But Kelsea would have been in elementary school so this might not have even been on her radar. During Ellen DeGeneres’ coming out, and the backlash against her, Taylor would have been around 8 and Kelsea just a tot. Fred Phelps, of “God hates fags” died in 2014 when Taylor was around 24 years old and Kelsea was just getting signed as an artist. Kelsea wasn’t exposed to a lot of things Taylor saw and experienced just that short time earlier, which could explain the different mentalities about queerness. Kelsea sees coming out as something authentic and worth doing, while Taylor sees it as apocalyptic.

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Kelsea asks Taylor why do you lie when somebody’s mean, and I think she’s talking about this exact situation. Why do you closet when someone questions your sexuality?

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Where do you hide?

Taylor has been indoctrinated by parents, career authorities, and society to hide her sexuality. Tolerate It talks about feeling othered.

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This man (her father? The studio execs?) covered up Taylor’s rough edges [barbed wire]. They hid the “bad” [queer] parts of her to make her more acceptable for public consumption.

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I wonder if the clues she didn’t see might be Taylor thinking about the gaslighting in Tolerate it— ‘it’s all in your head.’ Taylor shows she has internalized these men’s attitudes somewhat. She wonders if maybe she is interested in boys and just didn’t realize it or notice the signs. She says the narrative would be prettier if there was an invisible string tying her to a fated male soulmate.

Cuttin’ me open could be a cold assessment of Taylor’s attributes and flaws. The mistakes are PR blunders, the demons are her desires to touch women. After these men in authority scrutinize her they “heal” her. But the result isn’t good or great, it’s just fine. The corrections they made to Taylor’s image were OK, fair, tolerable to Taylor the individual…

The men in authority assessed her, saw queerness and deemed it undesirable, and “corrected” it by pushing her into relationships with men [Would’ve Could’ve Should’ve and You’re on Your own now Kid?]. These beards covered up Taylor’s sexuality, but with sharp barbed wire, and bulky chains. It’s not comfortable for her as an individual to wear. And this respectable, passable narrative of being in relationships with guys, tied her to (Joe?)

Do people assume/You’re always alright?/Been so good at smiling/Most of your life/Look damn good in the dress/Zipping up the mess/Dancing with your best foot forward

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Taylor hides her pain behind a smile and pretty dress. Her audience does not notice there is deception. The veneer wears on Taylor and she fakes it til she makes it until she can no longer distinguish what is forced upon her and what is her choice. The lines between what her team portrays about her as a brand, and who Taylor the person are get blurry. She’s faked it so long, that she’s made it, and it’s (her brand image) true(?).

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This is another statement showing Taylor hides her authenticity to give the people what they want. They don’t notice something is amiss.

Does it get hard/To have to play the part?/Nobody’s feeling sorry for ya

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Taylor tells her audience it’s a balancing act that she’s constantly attending to, and it’s not her natural state. But she would do anything, try everything, to keep her fans looking at her.

But what if I told you the world wouldn’t end/If you started showing what’s under your skin/What if you let ’em all in on the lie?/Even the homecoming queen cries

To Kelsea coming out doesn’t seem like a catastrophe. She suggests sharing inner struggles to show everybody has issues. But as Exile says, Taylor is reluctant to come out of the closet (directly):

Hey homecoming queen/How’s things at home?/Still walking on eggshells

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I think this is a technique to talk about her own childhood house, her own father, and her own life with plausible deniability. Taylor can distance herself from these statements of an angry father causing her to cry and hide her sexuality by portraying that it’s a friend’s life. Taylor learns at an early age that her dad finds her sexuality problematic so she has to keep that portion of herself hidden.

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This person is someone older, who causes Taylor to regress back to a child. The person is/was gone a lot, and she waits for them to return. She says the person is wise, and she seems to trust their take on things. Tolerate it tells us that Taylor’s dad thinks her queerness is a phase or that she’s mistaken. She says she accepts him despite his indiscretions (cheating on her mom?) yet he just tolerates her love.

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Because Taylor has been coerced to hide her sexuality from a young age she leads a lonely adult life. Her Dad and the authority figures from the studio taught her their love for her is not unconditional (contrasted to her mom in Sweet Nothing). Their love and acceptance hinges on her success and profitability. They think this sapphic stuff is all in her head and she’s got it wrong so if they just throw her together with a guy so her career (and their money) won’t get blown up. Taylor knows her sexuality is innate, but has to walk on eggshells to appease these men. So she closets and beards to assuage them, until she fakes it til she makes it and it’s true. Now she closets and beards because she’s afraid not to.

When that curtain’s closed

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Taylor has been indoctrinated that she can only love in private. When drama ramps up and Taylor feels comforted by another woman, she has to go inside and close the windows to love out of sight.

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Again, Taylor’s parents and the studio executives taught her to keep “undesirable” things private, behind closed doors. Even though Taylor is heartbroken and hurting she is still inside with boarded up windows getting drunk alone. She has to depend on her lover to come back to her, instead of chasing the lover outside where others could see. Taylor has to have a lover that agrees to remain invisible.

Did your daddy teach you/How to act tough?

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Taylor learned two things from this episode: Her father could be a ruthless defender of her career and money. And if you cross her father or are no longer useful to him, he’ll wrap you in chains and throw you away.

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Even as a teen, Taylor knows to hide her sadness and weak emotions. She models her conflict resolution after her dad’s example– aggression.

Or more like your mama?/Sweep it under the rug

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Taylor’s mom gave her a really good day. But her solution to Taylor being bullied was taking her shopping until she forgot their names. Andrea sweeps the central issue under the rug and distracts Taylor from her problems, instead of facing them head on.

Look damn good in the dress/Zipping up the mess/Dancing with your best foot forward

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Taylor combined the coping strategies of both her parents: Stuff down sad emotions and get revenge (her dad’s influence) and look pretty and go dancing to distract yourself (her mom’s way).

Did you want the crown/Or does it weigh you down

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When Taylor was young, she was excited to finally realize her dreams. She got off the sidelines and went to center stage, showing off her crown to the whole town.

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During Reputation era, Taylor realized how difficult the crown was to hold on to. One mistake and it was taken away. She learned people are fickle and it’s difficult to have staying power in the cut-throat entertainment industry.

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Taylor also figured out the crown was only given to one person, and that person needed to represent perfection. And she talks about the homophobes with their signs, knowing that her sexuality, if revealed, could get her crown taken away.

Nobody’s feeling sorry for ya

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The media used You’re not Sorry against Taylor. They turned a break-up song into a woman always playing victim narrative. [Sidenote- I am only talking about song lyrics here, not any other quotes or actions in Taylor’s wider life]. If a man wrote this would it be weaponized against him?

The big names on this list tell us that men are not held to the same lyrical standards. Men can play the victim to cunning, or gold-digging women, be openly misogynistic, and it’s written off. It’s just one song. Boys will be boys. But women are scrutinized and judged more.

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What if I told you the world wouldn’t end/If you started showing what’s under your skin?/What if you let ’em all in on the lie?/Even the homecoming queen cries

Kelsea tries to convey that times have changed, and coming out is no longer career ending. But Taylor knows love is conditional. She has been programmed to hide anything negative in order to preserve her fame.

The Archer substantiates that Taylor has struggled with her sexuality long-term, and she closets to cope.  “The room is on fire, invisible smoke” is talking about that struggle.  The fire is the worst outcome–It’s getting burned by coming out or worse, being outed.

The kiss in a crowded room was an important, life-changing event.  But it’s not the only event where Taylor was nearly or partially outed (a fire) and she panicked and shut it down to salvage her image and career.  Taylor spirals into the anxious thought that her sexuality will accelerate her losing everyone and everything

Yeah, what if I told you the sky wouldn’t fall?/If you lost your composure, said to hell with it all

Kelsea thinks Taylor’s fears are a bit dramatic. She articulates the ridiculousness of the notion that the world would fall apart if Taylor was truthful in public. Kelsea believes it would be relatable for Taylor to show her more authentic self. But Taylor isn’t just embellishing her fears to convey a more dramatic story. She actually has deep-rooted panic about what would happen if she was publicly sapphic.

Not everything pretty sparkles and shines

It’s a call back to Our Song, one of Taylor’s first songs. Kelsea is also pointing out their different perspectives. Kelsea says some pretty things aren’t sparkly, shiny, and flawless. There is beauty in the imperfection. Taylor was reared on idealized love fairytales and purity. She knows to hide undesirable things away.

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And even the homecoming queen cries/Oh yeah/Even the homecoming queen cries/Hey homecoming queen/Why do you lie?

Taylor lies and then cries because she has internalized the lessons from her parents and the (country) music industry. Renegade broaches the subject of Taylor’s internal homophobia. She fires off arrows and missiles because she hates her inherent queerness. Taylor’s attitudes damage herself and those in close proximity to her. The lover that sings this song says Taylor has come a long way, but gets weak and reverts to the negative thinking and closeting whenever she faces a perceived threat. The lover questions if Taylor’s extreme reluctance to open the blinds (come out) is due to anxiety or if she just doesn’t actually want a life with this person? Something is stopping Taylor from giving her lover the family she craves, and Taylor’s baggage is negatively impacting the lover’s mindset too. This girlfriend has no place carved out in Taylor’s life, but persists despite the invisibility. She begs Taylor to get her shit together so she can love her. But Taylor only squeezes the lover’s hand when the lover is about to leave.

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When somebody’s mean/Where do you hide?

And to finish off the song I give you the most obvious tie-in from Kelsea’s “where do you hide” choice of wording to I Know Places, a song about the panic of being outed. Taylor’s instinct is not to come out, but to take her girlfriend and hide from curious onlookers and intrusive questions.

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Question… The Last Post of the Series and Explanation of Who and What the Song is About [Part 20]

22 Jan

We finished the end of Dancing with our Hands Tied! Parts A-T if you missed it. Do you agree that Taylor is agonizing over an event that almost outed her? And she is regretful that she choose the closet over her lover? With that foundation, let’s look at Question…:

Here’s the lyrics as written so you can get a sense of the story Taylor is telling:

Can I ask you a question?
Did you ever have someone kiss you in a crowded room
And every single one of your friends was
Making fun of you
But fifteen seconds later they were clapping too?
Then what did you do?
Did you leave her house in the middle of the night?
Did you wish you put up more of a fight?
When she said it was too much?
Do you wish you could still touch …her?
It’s just a question

Now I’ll try to analyze them line by line, using what we learned from Dancing with our Hands Tied plus the consensus of word meanings gleaned from other songs in the catalog:

Can I ask you a question?

To me, it seems like both Dancing with our Hands Tied and Question…  Are less about one event or person, and more about Taylor’s overall mentality and what that leads to.  Taylor is acknowledging that her gay-panic and straight-washing sucks.  BUT this song (we’re back at Question…) is a justification of her actions.  

She is asking the listener (her ex-girlfriends, fans, critics, etc…) to empathize with her very specific situation.  In these lyrics, Taylor is calling for us to stand in her shoes (on your tiptoes) and see why she does these seemingly callous things repeatedly.  Question… is a song about Taylor’s phobia of being unabashedly queer and her habitual dread of being outed. 

As I said, I think this applies to every one of Taylor’s sapphic relationships.  For ease of writing and for specificity, I’ll use the muse I’m most familiar with, the most recent known girlfriend, Karlie.   

Did you ever have someone kiss you in a crowded room

The first question Taylor asks (exes, fans, critics) is did you ever find yourself in a situation where you were doing a controversial action in front of everybody?

Not sticking up for your (sapphic) love out of fear of social rejection is a common theme in so many of Taylor’s songs because it’s the primary problem in Taylor’s real life (Question…  [Part 14]). Her actions and inactions cause her partner to be relegated to the back of the closet.  And all the hiding and secrets and lies hurts their love.  Which is why in Betty, Taylor wants to rectify the situation by publicly kissing Betty/this woman she loves (Question…  [Part 17]).  

And every single one of your friends was

Making fun of you

Taylor adds details to her first question.  She wants to know if you’ve done something controversial AND if everyone was disdainful towards you about it?

Taylor wants us to know that, yes, she acted ugly as a result of each of these public events that revealed her true nature.  Cruel Summer shows Taylor’s hidden feelings:

Cruel Summer

She hated all the secrets.  She snuck around for love despite the dangerous consequences. And it made her sad that her love wasn’t celebrated.  But she had to. Because everyone was judging her harshly, ready to out her to the world.

But fifteen seconds later they were clapping too?

Then what did you do?

Taylor wants to know what the listener would have done when the rules changed.  She says, turns out, you adjusted in order to tame the controversy, but society evolved.  Instead of jeering this formerly controversial pairing, the majority were cheering.  But what if you  (her ex, the fans, any critics) were still locked in cages of maintaining your status quo?  How would you handle the situation then?

She asks the listeners what they would do in that very specific situation.  Knowing it’s impossible to handle smoothly, Taylor then implies that nobody can judge her harshly for her reactions and behavior.  She says anyone would act just as cagey under her circumstances.

The specific event of Kissgate hurt Kaylor because Taylor defaulted to brand damage control instead of just coming out.  Taylor, the individual, long ago lost her autonomy to Taylor Swift, the brand.  All the anxiety about negative societal reactions kills the sapphic partnership.  And when time passes and the general public is more accepting of queerness, Taylor was already locked into her marketed image.  She has to remain super-straight, or her fans will know she lied a lot of times.  They will feel betrayed by their friend.  The half moon eyes in Question… are the combination of these anxieties constantly tugging Taylor and any sapphic lover apart.  

Taylor talks to a few different subjects in the next lines.  Taylor is asking herself these questions.  She’s asking her girlfriend if any of these outcomes would have changed if either of them had taken different actions.  And she asks the listener to empathize.  

Did you leave your secret love in the middle of the night?  In that situation, do you think you could put up more of a fight?  And what about if your girlfriend was also anxious about it?  Would you press her to continue?  Taylor is saying she had all bad choices here, and anyone would have finished with the same bad outcome as she did.

Did you leave her house in the middle of the night?

According to her catalog, it’s Taylor who blew things out of proportion, and it was Taylor who burned the relationship down. It’s Taylor who pushes Karlie (any girlfriend applies) to run, and to take the last train.  It’s Taylor who jumps off the train and rides off alone.  

Did you wish you put up more of a fight?

Taylor is asking this question to herself and her exes.  She’s also showing her listeners how difficult it was to even do the little pushing back she did. She was marketed not only as boy-crazy, but as everyone’s personal friend, so the news would cause a stir.

The Taylor Swift brand is huge.  There is a lot of money and power behind it.  Look at one example of a business move that conveys the incredible power of TSTM:

Taylor (as face of the brand) had spoken and a Fortune 500 company immediately complied.  In this damage-control situation, after trying and faltering against all that brand-leverage, Taylor asks how would YOU proceed? 

Coming out as any kind of gay would cause backlash, and the employees of TSTM might be subjected to hardship. There is strong motivation to put out fires on behalf of the brand. Their damage control is quick and decisive.  The water of them putting out this fire became a flood that engulfed and overwhelmed everything.  In Clean, Taylor said she screamed so loud when all this water filled her lungs.  This damage control negatively impacts her despite being the face of the brand.

Remembering how the butterflies crumble to dust and Taylor is unhappy and alone in the closet, she had momentary bravery and pushed back against her team’s damage control.  Part of Taylor wants to choose authentic love, and the woman. So she started fighting for her (real) relationship, arguing with her team about downplaying the event that outed her.  She protested against going back into the closet, and tried to stop the torrent, “…but no one heard a thing.”  

Nobody on Taylor’s team listened to Taylor [remember her crying at the table in Miss Americana?] and she submitted, “Hung my head as I lost the war.” The war is Taylor’s conflict with her sexuality (this is bigger than her team).  She momentarily wanted to come out, but TSTM executives thought it would be bad for the brand.  It was just enough friction to trigger the conflict within herself.  As much as Taylor wants to come out and be free to love her soulmate, her fears of losing everything are stronger.  “So I punched a hole in the roof, Let the flood carry away all my pictures of you.”  Taylor’s fear took over in the end.  Clearing the air, she breathed in the smoke, and helped with the cover-up at the expense of her sapphic love.

When she said it was too much?

Here Taylor is telling the listener that the split wasn’t just one-sided.  The partner felt exhausted by the complications and couldn’t deal with it anymore.  

She is asking the listeners/critics what you would do if you lived through this complicated event, and had to deal with the pressure of a whole brand. 

Furthermore, what if the girl you were trying to fight for had a lot of doubts? The girlfriend wasn’t sure that she even wanted to go through more just to make things work–what would you have done?  Taylor is making it evident that she (as individual vs. brand) didn’t have a lot of pull in the matter.  And even if she did, her girlfriend was beaten down by the experience and ready to leave.

Again, the music belies Taylor’s internal struggle.  In Death by a Thousand cuts, Taylor tells how heartbroken she was with the final result:

Do you wish you could still touch …her?

Taylor’s last question shows that she wishes it wasn’t this way.  She still covets the touch of her lover.  Despite her impossible situation, and inability to rectify it in a satisfying way (for all parties involved) Taylor says she truly loved the girl.

Taylor’s most important relationships couldn’t overcome so many stumbling blocks despite both loving each other (Question…  [Part 10]).  There is internal homophobia, career pressures, political considerations, bearding complications, on and on. How many struggles can one relationship survive?   

When Taylor’s default action is covering up her queerness, it causes her to suppress her secret relationship as well. Karlie politely lived with being stifled, her love tamped down (Question…  [Part 10]).  But eventually left the smothering deprivation of the closet.  Karlie “married” the guy or more suitably–commissioned her new heteronormative life (Question…  [Part 9]).  

The break-up kills Taylor.  And Karlie is dead to Taylor now that she has a child and a (diabolical) husband.  Both Taylor and Karlie (this could apply to any and all of Taylor’s sapphic lovers) are dead inside, cold lifeless hands reaching out grieving for the living (“do you wish you could still touch her?”).  Yet, Taylor still prioritizes building a legacy despite repeatedly losing the lover because of it (Question…  [Part 11]).  It’s a pattern she’s repeated over and over.  

It’s just a question

This is a cheeky ending where Taylor feels like the listener agreed with her logic.  She wanted us to know the details of her situation so we could see how she couldn’t do things any other way.  And now that we’ve seen her side of things, she knows we’re on the same page as her.  She was entombed in a lot of ways and that justified her behavior.  It’s the same as Dancing with our Hands Tied: Taylor is broken because her sapphic relationship ended. She’s regretful and wished things would have been different. But she reminds herself, her ex, and her audience in the song how her unique circumstances are to blame. And she ends both songs saying I regret this, but… Taylor has rationalized all her choices which have led to these disheartening outcomes.

Taylor will remain shrouded in the lavender haze because she has more challenging circumstances than many.  But she’s still going to be sad, and share her feelings about it in song.

Dancing with our Hands Tied- Taylor Swift would change everything… And everything would end the same [Part T]

19 Jan

We are nearly back to Question…!

We addressed the central part of the song: Kiss in a crowded room by exploring Dancing with our Hands Tied strongly believed to be tied [too on the nose?] to Kissgate.

We proved Question… and Dancing with our Hands Tied are nearly the same song. DWOHT is looking back with regret and wishing for a re-do. Question… is also looking back at the same or similar event(s).

So we’re segwaying from DWOHT back to the end of Question

This part of the song really turns into Question

If I could dance with you again

This is a lament.  Taylor’s behavior in that pivotal moment caused the pair to stop dancing.  The dancing is the actual act of holding each other and the feeling of liberation at associating as a romantic couple in public.

I’d kiss you as the lights went out

If Taylor could rewrite history she would have kissed her partner in that clamorous moment.  Instead of worrying about the people looking up at her and her lover (grinnin’ like the devil), Taylor would have leaned into her love.

Swaying as the room burned down

The fire Taylor (and her team) have been terrorized by flared up that night.  Taylor let her guard slip and was too obviously gay out in the open.  Viewers were quick to gather physical evidence and Taylor would have been outed.  If she could revise what happened in that significant moment, Taylor says she would have continued dancing instead of getting flustered.

I’d hold you as the water rushes in

The following week, Taylor succumbed to the pressure of her team’s damage control.  Once mollified, she even felt safe within the enclave of the closet.  Taylor tells her sapphic lover that if she could do it all again, she would choose her.  Instead of acquiescing to the closet, Taylor wishes she would have remained firm and stood proudly with her lover.

If I could dance with you again

Taylor is regretful that salvaging her straight image caused her girlfriend to be enshrouded too.  By covering up their love, Taylor buried it.

BUT the very last line of the song:

Dancing with our hands tied, hands tied

Taylor amended the whole event to appease her ex-girlfriend and show her how she’s evolved as a person.  This whole verse was tinged with regret, and Taylor is telling how she would make different choices.  The way that Taylor dealt with the original moment ended up causing her (and her girlfriend) pain and suffering.  She is lonely and unhappy because of those choices.  

Yet, at the very end (the last line of the song) Taylor doesn’t allude to dancing, uninhibited in the open, freely out with her partner. 

Her idea of comfort is dancing within the constraints of her brand.  Taylor wants to be with the woman, but she needs her career.  Taylor has not progressed at all.  She changed everything in the Kissgate scenario, but ends up back in the same precarious position–dancing, but within the chains of her heteronormative image.

Dancing with our Hands Tied- Same words, different format: Bad Feeling, Dancing, Hands Tied [Part S]

18 Jan

I put the parts we already talked about together in a different way. The repetition conveys the anxiety Taylor feels.

I had a bad feeling

Taylor is chronically anxious about a lot of things.   Primarily, in her words: Her house is haunted. Translation: The physical embodiment of her sensibilities is gay (Question…[Part 6].  Taylor feels torn between her “aberrant” sexuality and being seen as the ideal woman, or at least politically correct.  It’s a struggle for Taylor to be authentic to who she is, but also appeal to a wide swath of people to maintain her fame (Question… [Part 12]).  She’s gay, rattled, and drunk, yet she projects hyper-femininity and confidence to be palatable to the masses.   Throughout Taylor’s life her sexuality caused her to hide, panic, and scheme. 

I had a bad feeling

The middle of the night is a time for Taylor to ruminate and contemplate why she is in cages.  She has to retract central parts of her branding if she wants to be open about her sexuality.  If she sticks to the tenants of the Taylor Swift brand, Taylor, the individual, must closet and beard (Question…  [Part 6]).  She has strife about this difficult choice, because Taylor worries that her sexuality will accelerate her losing everyone and everything.  

But we were dancing

Taylor and her lover have stopped (“we were”) dancing.  The word “Dance” is being unbothered and happy-go-lucky in her queerness–a state Taylor enters only with this specific person per Holy Ground (Question…  [Part 17]).  

Dancing with our hands tied, hands tied

Taylor construes “dance” to mean having no inhibitions. She talks about how children are willing to dance without shame. The word is used to show the elation, relief, and liberation of being herself, as in the song, Long Live (Question…  [Part 17]).  Slightly adjacent to being in an uninhibited, unflappable mode relating to her queerness (NOT her default state of anxiety and fear) Taylor uses “dance” to express allegiance and belonging. When she dances in Welcome to New York it shows that Taylor found people that accept her and “Dance” is used to show affiliation with these urban queers. Same with Beautiful Ghosts. She “dances” or unites with these other gay people because that’s who she is, and they integrate her into their chosen family (Question…  [Part 17]).  The preponderance of “dancing” in Taylor’s catalog is relaxation and ease with her innate sexuality.  

Yeah, we were dancing

Yeah, we were dancing

Taylor also uses dance to show intimacy between two people.  I think that’s a pertinent meaning in this song, because Taylor is telling her ex-girlfriend what she would do if they could resume dancing.

Dancing with our hands tied, hands tied

Dancing with our hands tied, however, is not completely free.  With that phrase, Taylor is not only describing the physical representation of her and her lover’s arms and hands tangled and intertwined.  She is telling us despite the dancing, there were always handcuffs, chains, restraints, hemming-in of their relationship.  And with her own relationship to her (queer) self.

Yeah, we were dancing

Taylor knows she left her lover hanging, and it’s her fault both of them are depressed.  Even though this is the central person in Taylor’s life she never acknowledges them publicly.  

And I had a bad feeling

But she already loses her important romances.  This is part of the reason why, even at the early stages of a relationship, Taylor is terrified to lose the love.  She senses it’s fickle and fears it could go away at any time (Question…  [Part 11]).  Taylor has suffered loss and loneliness with at least Emily, Dianna, and Karlie.  Emily was out of the band suddenly and Taylor felt sorry.  A fake article about Swiftgron went viral and Dianna erased her blog and tattoo then Taylor was only seen with her one more time.  Karlie’s timeline is complicated, but the last four albums tell us they couldn’t get on the same page about how to proceed with their relationship.  

But we were dancing

Taylor uses “universe” to show how far away she seems to her lover.  Fear causes Taylor’s priorities to be misaligned.  Her girlfriend feels neglected, lonely, awkward, forgotten, and depressed when Taylor does her celebrity thing (and the closeting that goes with it).  Taylor’s closeting relegated her soulmate to the background.  Since that is her gay-panic default behavior, the women aren’t surprised, but it ruins the relationships nonetheless.  

So, baby, can we dance

Taylor can’t let go of her soulmate–she’s a hostage to her feelings.  But Taylor is torn:  Her back is against the wall in regards to maintaining her public image–she must beard to be seen as straight and make money.   

I had a bad feeling

At times, both Taylor and Karlie were nervous about being sapphic.  In Call It What You Want Taylor tells Karlie (I hear her name in the song and can’t hear anything else) they don’t have to name what they are.  It speaks to Karlie being nervous about calling herself part of the LGBT community.  Taylor urges her to just go with it and don’t worry about labels–she just wants this love.  Yet, in Cruel Summer Taylor still paid a man to be her beard. Taylor’s lifelong defense mechanism is closeting so when she sees a shiny toy, this bad boy with a price, she bought it.  

But we were dancing

Taylor never makes her secret sapphic love her centerfold, thus her lover is a flight risk.  Even with the threat of losing her beloved, it always comes back to Taylor’s career (Question…  [Part 9]).  

Dancing with our hands tied, hands tied

Taylor loves, but in secret.  Taylor uses dancing in Cowboy Like Me to misrepresent her sexuality to the rich folks. She dances with this other queer person to look outwardly romantic and mollify homophobic reactions (Question…  [Part 17]).  This is Taylor’s personal life:  She feels she has to dance and spin on her tiptoes, al-la Mirrorball, showing her audience, the media, and the general public everything they want to see.  The closet stifles Taylor, but also makes her feel safe, per Clean and Lavender Haze.

Yeah, we were dancing

Yeah, we were dancing

The shades of gray surrounding Taylor speak to a situation so complex it has to be deciphered with nuance (Question… [Part 13]).  Taylor had confusion, indecision, and doubt, letting her terror drive her actions.  Taylor fears for her image and how being LGBT might jeopardize business, so she pushes her lover away, despite wanting to hold onto her. 

Dancing with our hands tied, hands tied

The specific event of Kissgate hurt Kaylor because Taylor defaulted to brand damage control instead of just coming out with it.  All the anxiety kills the partnership.  The half moon eyes in Question… are the combination of anxieties constantly tugging Taylor and any sapphic lover apart.  

Yeah, we were dancing

This is past tense (“were”).  And she loses these relationships to internalized homophobia and the closet time and time again (Question…  [Part 10]).  

(Ooh, we had our hands tied)

Not sticking up for your (sapphic) love out of fear of social rejection is a common theme in so many of Taylor’s songs because it’s the primary problem in Taylor’s real life (Question…  [Part 14]). Her actions and inactions cause her partner to be relegated to the back of the closet.  And all the hiding and secrets and lies is hurting their love.  Which is why in Betty, Taylor wants to rectify the situation by publicly kissing Betty/this woman she loves (Question…  [Part 17]).  

And I had a bad feeling

The night of Kissgate, Taylor went on a Kaylor-liking spree online, signaling some pre-gaming had occurred even before the 1975 concert.  Taylor drinks to calm her anxiety, and anything too gay makes her especially anxious.  She correlates the overwhelming feelings of Sapphic love with drunkeness.  Being drunk is cathartic and freeing, allowing inhibitions to be lowered.  But it can also make your head spin, cause you to go rogue, and can make you throw up on the street (Question…  [Part 11]).  The night Taylor is talking about in Question…  she was “on something” is both liquor and the high of gay love (Question…  [Part 11]).  

But we were dancing

Yeah, we were dancing

Yeah, we were dancing

During the break-ups Taylor is emotionally raw.  She oscillates between sadness, reminiscing, empathy, and anger.  

Dancing with our hands tied, hands tied

Taylor’s early romances ended nearly the same as her current romance has ended.  She has always felt regretful about her situation and wishes the lover would show up below her window.  But there are just too many secrets, lies, miscommunications, and accusations complicating things.  For example, Betty, a highly autobiographical allegory for Taylor’s real life, shows a common conflict of closeting and bearding.  James (aka Taylor) was nowhere to be found, because she hates the crowds (creates a spectacle wherever she goes).  But she saw Betty dance with HIM, which James/Taylor misconstrued as legitimate. It’s just like reality where bearding is sometimes pulled off too well, creating jealousy and mistrust.  In both Betty and in Taylor’s real dating life, a chain of negative reactions follows the act of bearding and the relationship between the female lovers suffers.  So after being pushed away by Taylor’s closeting, instead of throwing pebbles at Taylor’s window, the girlfriend actually leaves (Question…  [Part 14]).   Then, there is just sadness about what will never be. 

Yeah, we were dancing

Drinking and getting drunk mark Taylor’s journey of grief after the split (Question… [Part 11]).  She regretfully remembers how she contributed to their split, and woefully wishes she could go back to their happy moments.

And I had a bad feeling

Taylor can’t stand the heat, is constantly afraid of impending fire, and the invisible smoke hangs over her.  The smoke (hint of a fire) is unrealized events that Taylor fears.  The heat of the fire is every time Taylor is overtly gay and too many people notice.  The (anticipated) fire is getting burned by coming out or worse, being outed. The water rushing in is damage control by Taylor’s PR team.  The rain is Taylor’s own overcorrections when things look too queer.  It’s rain, a naturally occurring event (vs. firefighting, a planned, aggressive action) because Taylor yields to her team’s straight-washing, and feels regretful about her own.   Taylor suffers because she loves the gal, but also knows how “out(ed)” celebrities lose their fame and die all alone.

But we were dancing

Without her lover, Taylor is in the gray of sadness, loneliness, and isolation (Question…  [Part 13]).  

Hands tied, hands tied

In the case of Kissgate and Kaylor, I think Taylor wanted to go to The Lakes and be a private couple, just the two of them.  But I suspect Karlie felt obligated to be with Jo$h, and still wanted to be with Taylor, as attested by Ivy.  Taylor couldn’t go along with that because of distress about losing control, apprehension about the unknown, and antipathy of those political associations (Question…  [Part 10]).  Taylor’s break-up with her lover kills her.  And Karlie is dead to Taylor now that she has a child and a (diabolical) husband.  Karlie politely lived with being hidden and put on the back burner, until she didn’t (Question…  [Part 10]).  She eventually left the deprivation of the closet which erased her.  Karlie “married” the guy or commissioned her new heteronormative life (Question…  [Part 9]).  Now both Taylor and Karlie are dead inside, cold lifeless hands reaching out (“do you wish you could still touch her?”) grieving for the living.

This turns into Question…

If I could dance with you again

I’d kiss you as the lights went out

Swaying as the room burned down

I’d hold you as the water rushes in

If I could dance with you again

BUT

Dancing with our hands tied, hands tied

Dancing with our Hands Tied- Chains and Restraints [Part R]

17 Jan

Logistical Info:

Remember we’re looking at words in the lyrics of Question… to try to decipher who and what and when.

We’ve almost gone through the entire song, pulling lyrics containing the same words to get a sort of consensus or feeling about Taylor’s intention.

Now that we’re toward the end of Question… lyrics, we need to address the central part of the song: Kiss in a crowded room. And the kiss really brings to mind Dancing with our Hands Tied and maybe Kissgate.

We will analyze Dancing with our Hands Tied to see if it parallels Question….

Except this particular line within Dancing with our Hands Tied got a bit long because I really don’t know for sure and there was no solid direction to take the analysis. I will go into it in detail in this post so the guesses don’t overwhelm the analysis of the song as a whole.

And I’ll spell out my conclusions from this post in the full analysis of Dancing with our Hands Tied. But that post was getting very long and I was afraid nobody would read it. So to make things even more confusing each line in DWOHT is going to be its OWN post. But then I’ll do a main DWOHT post with just links to each different post. It’s a whole big thing.

Then we’ll get back to the end of Question

Was that explanation as confusing as trying to guess who Taylor’s songs are about?

Dancing with our hands tied, hands tied

We’ve discussed how Taylor construes “dance” to mean having no inhibitions. She talks about how children are willing to dance without shame in Fifteen. The word is used to show the elation, relief, and liberation of being herself, as in the song, Long Live (Question…  [Part 17]).  Slightly adjacent to being in an uninhibited, unflappable mode relating to her queerness (NOT her default state of anxiety and fear) Taylor uses “dance” to express allegiance and belonging. When she dances in Welcome to New York it shows that Taylor found people that accept her and “Dance” is used to show affiliation with these urban queers. Same with Beautiful Ghosts. She “dances” or unites with these other gay people because that’s who she is, and they integrate her into their chosen family (Question…  [Part 17]).  The preponderance of “dancing” in Taylor’s catalog is relaxation and ease with her innate sexuality.  

Dancing with our Hands Tied, however, is not completely free.  With that phrase, Taylor is not only describing the physical representation of her and her lover’s arms and hands tangled and intertwined.  She is telling us despite the dancing, there were always handcuffs, chains, restraints, hemming-in of their relationship.  And with her own relationship to her (queer) self.

This bejeweled dress also looks like chains, shackling Taylor Swift into her public image. With the money she makes from her brand, comes the forced closeting and bearding and straightwashing. “Where’s that man who threw blankets over my barbed wire?” in Tolerate It [a song about people not accepting Taylor’s sexuality] shows how the TS brand hides Taylor’s barbed wire (rough edges, sexuality) by propping a man next to her. The song is telling us Taylor beards to hide her sexuality. Invisible String reiterates how Taylor the brand looks beautiful dripping in jewels, but Taylor the person is restrained by these same gems. “Something wrapped all of my past mistakes in barbed wire/Chains around my demons…”

Taylor loves, but in secret.  Taylor uses dancing in Cowboy Like Me to misrepresent her sexuality to the rich folks. She dances with this other queer person to look outwardly romantic and mollify homophobic reactions (Question…  [Part 17]).  This is Taylor’s personal life:  She feels she has to dance and spin on her tiptoes, al-la Mirrorball, showing her audience, the media, and the general public everything they want to see.  The closet stifles Taylor, but also makes her feel safe, per Clean and Lavender Haze. It’s no accident the gold mirrorball dress also has the jewel/chains. She is shining for others, but the mirrorball mentality also keeps her tied up in that image.

The specific event of Kissgate hurt Kaylor because Taylor defaulted to brand damage control instead of opening up and coming out.  All the anxiety kills the partnership.  The half moon eyes in Question… are the combination of anxieties constantly tugging Taylor and any sapphic lover apart.  

Not sticking up for your (sapphic) love out of fear of social rejection is a common theme in so many of Taylor’s songs because it’s the primary problem in Taylor’s real life (Question…  [Part 14]). Her actions and inactions cause her partner to be relegated to the back of the closet.  And all the hiding, and secrets, and lies are hurting their love.  Which is why in Betty, Taylor wants to rectify the situation by publicly kissing Betty/this woman she loves (Question…  [Part 17]).  

Taylor’s early romances ended nearly the same as her current romance has ended.  She has always felt regretful about her situation and wishes the lover would show up below her window.  But there are just too many secrets, lies, miscommunications, and accusations complicating things.  For example, Betty, a highly autobiographical allegory for Taylor’s real life, shows a common conflict of closeting and bearding.  James (aka Taylor) was nowhere to be found, because she hates the crowds (creates a spectacle wherever she goes).  But she saw Betty dance with HIM, which James/Taylor misconstrued as legitimate. It’s just like reality where bearding is sometimes pulled off too well, creating jealousy and mistrust. 

In both Betty and in Taylor’s real dating life, a chain of negative reactions follows the act of bearding and the relationship between the female lovers suffers.  So after being pushed away by Taylor’s closeting, instead of throwing pebbles at Taylor’s window, the girlfriend actually leaves (Question…  [Part 14]).   Then, there is just sadness about what will never be. 

In the case of Kissgate and Kaylor, I think Taylor wanted to go to The Lakes and be a private couple, just the two of them.  But I suspect Karlie felt obligated to be with Jo$h, and still wanted to be with Taylor, as attested by Ivy.  There is a back and fourth in that song. Taylor is anxious at the impending doom of Karlie’s wedding (among other things) and Karlie answers, trying to assuage Taylor’s fear of the Ku$hners burning the house down. These lines (starting from “How’s one to know” are from Karlie’s perspective:

Karlie lived and died for her affair with Taylor despite an upcoming deadline with Jo$h. Taylor gets afraid and tells Karlie to just go to the guy, but Karlie asks Taylor to sit with her, drinking Jo$h’s wine, and wait and see what Kaylor can be. Karlie, further says all of this is under Taylor’s control. Karlie’s pain is in Taylor’s freezing hands, but she wants to hold on to Taylor. Even though Karlie has made a commitment that is soon to start, she says Taylor impacted her and she can’t pretend their love isn’t centered in her life. Karlie didn’t choose to fall in love with Taylor, and she acknowledges that falling in love with Taylor is messing up the future that she had long ago planned, but it happened. Karlie is covered in the invasive, inconvenient ivy of Taylor’s love. Taylor couldn’t go along with continuing an affair with a married Karlie because of distress about losing control, apprehension about the unknown, and antipathy of those political associations (Question…  [Part 10]). 

Because each of their hands are tied due to bearding, Kaylor had to stop “dancing” despite truly loving one another. Taylor’s break-up with her lover kills her.  And Karlie is dead to Taylor now that she has a child and a (diabolical) husband.  Karlie politely lived with being hidden and put on the back burner, until she didn’t (Question…  [Part 10]).  She eventually left the deprivation of the closet which erased her.  Karlie went ahead and “married” the guy or more accurately, commissioned this heteronormative life (Question…  [Part 9]). 

Now both Taylor and Karlie are dead inside, cold lifeless hands reaching out (“do you wish you could still touch her?”) grieving for the living.

Dancing with our Hands Tied- Smoke is Worry [Part P]

14 Jan

Logistics:

Remember we’re looking at words in the lyrics of Question… to try to decipher who and what and when.

We’ve almost gone through the entire song, pulling lyrics containing the same words to get a sort of consensus or feeling about Taylor’s intention.

Now that we’re toward the end of Question… lyrics, we need to address the central part of the song: Kiss in a crowded room. And the kiss really brings to mind Dancing with our Hands Tied and maybe Kissgate.

We will analyze Dancing with our Hands Tied to see if it parallels Question….

Except this particular line within Dancing with our Hands Tied got a bit long because I really don’t know for sure and there was no solid direction to take the analysis. I will go into it in detail in this post so the guesses don’t overwhelm the analysis of the song as a whole.

And I’ll spell out my conclusions from this post in the full analysis of Dancing with our Hands Tied.

Then we’ll get back to the end of Question

Was that explanation as confusing as trying to guess who Taylor’s songs are about?

And I had a bad feeling

Taylor is chronically anxious about a lot of things.   Primarily, (and in her words) her house (physical embodiment of her sensibilities) is haunted (gay) (Question…[Part 6].  Taylor feels torn between her “aberrant” sexuality and being seen as the ideal woman, or at least politically correct.  It’s a struggle for Taylor to be authentic to who she is, but also appeal to a wide swath of people to maintain her fame (Question… [Part 12]).  She’s gay, rattled, and drunk, yet she projects hyper-femininity and confidence to be palatable to the masses.   Throughout Taylor’s life her sexuality caused her to hide, panic, and scheme. 

The middle of the night is a time for Taylor to ruminate and contemplate why she is in cages.  Taylor is a super-star. Her every move is published for the world to judge. A primary problem is that Taylor has to retract central parts of her branding if she wants to be open about her sexuality.  If she sticks to the tenants of the Taylor Swift brand, Taylor, the individual, must closet and beard (Question…  [Part 6]).  She has strife about this difficult choice, because Taylor worries that her sexuality will accelerate her losing everyone and everything.  

But Taylor already loses her important romances.  This is part of the reason why, even at the early stages of a relationship, Taylor is terrified to lose the love.  She senses it’s fickle and fears it could go away at any time (Question…  [Part 11]).  Taylor has suffered loss and loneliness with at least Emily, Dianna, and Karlie.  Emily was out of the band suddenly and Taylor felt sorry.  A fake article about Swiftgron went viral and Dianna erased her blog and tattoo then Taylor was only seen with her one more time.  Karlie’s timeline is complicated, but the last four albums tell us they couldn’t get on the same page about how to proceed with their relationship.  For instance, Call It What You Want tells Karlie [I hear her name in the song and can’t hear anything else] they don’t have to name what they are.  It speaks to Karlie being nervous about calling herself Sapphic.  Taylor urges her to just go with it and don’t worry about labels–she just wants this love. 

Yet, in Cruel Summer Taylor still paid a man to be her beard. Taylor’s lifelong defense mechanism is closeting so when she sees a shiny toy, this bad boy with a price, she bought it.  

The night of Kissgate, Taylor went on a Kaylor-liking spree online, signaling some pre-gaming had occurred even before the 1975 concert.  Taylor drinks to calm her anxiety, and anything too gay makes her especially anxious.  She correlates the overwhelming feelings of Sapphic love with drunkeness.  Being drunk is cathartic and freeing, allowing inhibitions to be lowered.  But it can also make your head spin, cause you to go rougue, and can make you throw up (the blurple color shows she’s gay inside) on the street (Question…  [Part 11]).  The night Taylor is talking about in Question…  she was “on something” is both liquor and the high of gay love (Question…  [Part 11]).  

Taylor can’t stand the heat, is constantly afraid of impending fire, and the invisible smoke hangs over her.  The smoke (hint of a fire) is unrealized events that Taylor fears.  The heat of the fire is every time Taylor is overtly gay and too many people notice.  The (anticipated) fire is getting burned by coming out or worse, being outed. The water rushing in is damage control by Taylor’s PR team. 

The rain is Taylor’s own overcorrections when things look too queer.  It’s rain, a naturally occurring more passive event (vs. firefighting, a planned, aggressive action). Taylor uses rain to describe herself putting out the gay fire to show it’s compulsory and imposed when she yields to her team’s straight-washing. It makes her feel safe, yet contrite.  

Taylor suffers because she loves the gal, but also knows how “out(ed)” celebrities lose their fame and die all alone.

Dancing with our Hands Tied- Drowning in Straight PR is a Comfort to Taylor Swift [Part O]

13 Jan

Logistical Info:

Remember we’re looking at words in the lyrics of Question… to try to decipher who and what and when.

We’ve almost gone through the entire song, pulling lyrics containing the same words to get a sort of consensus or feeling about Taylor’s intention.

Now that we’re toward the end of Question… lyrics, we need to address the central part of the song: Kiss in a crowded room. And the kiss really brings to mind Dancing with our Hands Tied and maybe Kissgate.

We will analyze Dancing with our Hands Tied to see if it parallels Question….

Except this particular line within Dancing with our Hands Tied got a bit long because I really don’t know for sure and there was no solid direction to take the analysis. I will go into it in detail in this post so the guesses don’t overwhelm the analysis of the song as a whole.

And I’ll spell out my conclusions from this post in the full analysis of Dancing with our Hands Tied. But that post was getting very long and I was afraid nobody would read it. So to make things even more confusing each line in DWOHT is going to be its OWN post. But then I’ll do a main DWOHT post with just links to each different post. It’s a whole big thing.

Then we’ll get back to the end of Question

Was that explanation as confusing as trying to guess who Taylor’s songs are about?

I’d hold you as the water rushes in

Taylor is describing that in her re-do of this kissing in public event, she would hold her lover even with her team commencing operation straight-wash.  The water rushing in (PR and a return to closeting) is putting out the fire (being outed as gay).  Instead of feeling relieved with the re-closeting, Taylor wishes she would have prioritized her lover and embraced their relationship.  

Part of Taylor wants to choose authentic love, and the woman. She started fighting for her love, arguing with her team about downplaying the event that outed her.  “The water [PR damage control] filled my lungs [was big and overwhelming] I screamed so loud [protested against going back into the closet], But no one heard a thing.”  Nobody listened to Taylor and she submitted, “Hung my head as I lost the war.” The war is Taylor’s conflict with her team–she [briefly] wanted to be honest and authentic about the event, but they thought it would be bad for the brand.  

But it is also the conflict within herself.  As the face of the TS brand, Taylor has a lot of power over her image. It’s ultimately her that is conflicted, thus weak at pushing back against her team. Clean describes Taylor’s struggle: “There was nothing left to do…When the butterflies turned to dust that covered my whole room.”  As much as Taylor wants to come out and be free to love her soulmate, her fears of losing everything are stronger.  Remembering how the butterflies crumble to dust and Taylor is unhappy and alone, she had momentary bravery and pushed back against her team’s damage control.  But her fear took over, and in the end she helped the cover-up, “So I punched a hole in the roof, Let the flood carry away all my pictures of you.”   Being open with her sexuality is frightening, unknown territory to Taylor–like the depths that she dreaded and hated in Marjory.  

“And the sky turned black like a perfect storm” shows that hiding won out after the actual event. Taylor’s team jumped in and shut down the gossip, as they’ve done every time Taylor is caught being too gay with a woman (Emily suddenly quit under unusual circumstances, Liz was fired, Dianna’s blog, tattoo, and presence were erased, and Kaylor boarded up the windows, going private).  Taylor’s team literally paid people to withhold quality videos and good pictures of Kissgate from public view.  Taylor transitioned safely back into her comfort zone–the closet. 

Water rushing in is describing the same emotions as the song Clean.  This fire (getting nearly outed) threatened to consume Taylor and everything around her.  Then “Rain came pouring down” and the fire and smoke were being quelled.  “When I was drowning, that’s when I could finally breathe” is saying when Taylor was surrounded by PR, it was a relief.  At least Taylor isn’t anxious about the unknown when she’s cloaked in secrecy within the closet.  She knows what to expect, and feels protected by the familiarity.  Her ruminations were momentarily gone.

Taylor’s team arranged it so the gay event never happened.  “And by morning/Gone was any trace of you”  The internet and the relationship were scrubbed.  “I think I am finally clean’ is the image-rehabilitation that pushed her back into the closet and shut-down her addiction to women’s touch.  The isolation and depression engulf her in gray and Taylor is regretful about her circumstances, but doesn’t see a way to change them (Question…  [Part 13]).

Dancing with our Hands Tied- Taylor wishes she would have embraced her lover despite the fire [Part N]

12 Jan

Logistical Info:

Remember we’re looking at words in the lyrics of Question… to try to decipher who and what and when.

We’ve almost gone through the entire song, pulling lyrics containing the same words to get a sort of consensus or feeling about Taylor’s intention.

Now that we’re toward the end of Question… lyrics, we need to address the central part of the song: Kiss in a crowded room. And the kiss really brings to mind Dancing with our Hands Tied and maybe Kissgate.

We will analyze Dancing with our Hands Tied to see if it parallels Question….

Except this particular line within Dancing with our Hands Tied got a bit long because I really don’t know for sure and there was no solid direction to take the analysis. I will go into it in detail in this post so the guesses don’t overwhelm the analysis of the song as a whole.

And I’ll spell out my conclusions from this post in the full analysis of Dancing with our Hands Tied. But that post was getting very long and I was afraid nobody would read it. So to make things even more confusing each line in DWOHT is going to be its OWN post. But then I’ll do a main DWOHT post with just links to each different post. It’s a whole big thing.

Then we’ll get back to the end of Question

Was that explanation as confusing as trying to guess who Taylor’s songs are about?

Swaying as the room burned down

Taylor continues the fantasy of what she wished she would have done in her regretful re-do of the situation:  Taylor would have kept dancing (other songs told us this means uninhibited/free and romantically affiliated with her lover) (Question…  [Part 17]).  Taylor, despite fears of her career going up in flames, would have embraced her lover openly, indifferent to everyone looking.

This has been a lifelong struggle for Taylor, and she sings way back in 2008 that it’s bothering her.  Taylor feels lonely at her new apartment in Fifteen.  When Taylor is saying never grow up, it’s interesting she brings up being burned and scarred by love as her primary concern.  Does Taylor wish she never grew up, because when she was little (seven and prior) she didn’t know she was gay?  She was just her, no stigma, and she wishes she could go back to that?  In the song, Taylor spirals into the anxious thought that everything she has will be gone at some point.  Taylor fears that her sexuality will accelerate her losing everyone and everything (Question…  [Part 10]).

The Archer further substantiates that Taylor has struggled with her sexuality long-term, and she closets to cope.  “The room is on fire, invisible smoke” is talking about that struggle.  The fire is the worst outcome–It’s getting burned by coming out or worse, being outed (Question…  [Part 16]).  The smoke is a whiff of what could happen–it precedes fire.  She has to be very, very sneaky about hiding the gay-affair, or he (a husband, prying eyes, the media) will burn their house of love down. 

The kiss in a crowded room was an important, life-changing event.  But it’s not the only event where Taylor was nearly or partially outed (a fire) and she panicked and shut it down to salvage her image and career. This feared fire is talking about getting outed in any scenario, Taylor just uses this specific example for Dancing with our Hands Tied and Question… because a specific story makes for better writing than talking in generalities.  This sentiment is bigger than any single moment in time.  

When Taylor is caught kissing a woman, her fears come to fruition.  She imagines the worst outcome, and is anxious, but the consequences are all in her mind so far. That’s the smoke.  A prelude to the actual bad event.  It’s Taylor’s anxieties and fears.  Taylor can’t stand the heat, is constantly afraid of the impending fire, and the invisible smoke (ruminations of the worst case scenarios) hangs over her (Question…  [Part 16]).  Every time Taylor is gay on main and too many people notice– the smoke becomes perceptible.  

When there’s only smoke, there is time to quell any fire.  That’s the damage control by Taylor’s PR team and Taylor’s own overcorrections when things look too queer.  She wants to keep her fans and fame, but the recompense hurts her relationship with the woman.  When Taylor pushes her straightness by lying and amping up the bearding, her lover is hurt by the closeting.  For instance, Karlie stares at Joe like he’s an understudy, knowing that she would fight (Bad Blood) for Taylor. A million lies and many chances are breaking the branches that this relationship so carefully balances on.  All the closeting and hiding chips away at the love.  Taylor’s smoke ruins her most important romantic relationships every time.  Recently, Karlie suggests in Ivy that Kaylor take a risk and stay together.  Even with the “husband” in the picture (“drink my husband’s wine” = Jo$h’s wine). 

But Taylor is afraid of being out.  In Delicate Taylor also says she doesn’t wanna share, and the politics of it would hurt Taylor’s image.  Consequently, Cardigan talks about how Taylor’s secret lover finally “ran like water” “steppin’ on the last train” because of Taylor’s stipulations (must be private, and it’s me or him) (Question…  [Part 16]).

Which brings us back to Daylight:  “clearing the air I breathed in the smoke.”  The smoke Taylor breathes in when trying to clear the air is Taylor holding onto imagined negative outcomes.  She is hypervigilant about running damage control and overcorrecting any even slightly gay situation.  The pain of picking closeting over the love of her life, time and time again, makes Taylor feel asphyxiated (Question…  [Part 16]).  

Dancing with our Hands Tied- I would have kissed you in a crowded room [Part M]

11 Jan

Logistical Info:

Remember we’re looking at words in the lyrics of Question… to try to decipher who and what and when.

We’ve almost gone through the entire song, pulling lyrics containing the same words to get a sort of consensus or feeling about Taylor’s intention.

Now that we’re toward the end of Question… lyrics, we need to address the central part of the song: Kiss in a crowded room. And the kiss really brings to mind Dancing with our Hands Tied and maybe Kissgate.

We will analyze Dancing with our Hands Tied to see if it parallels Question….

Except this particular line within Dancing with our Hands Tied got a bit long because I really don’t know for sure and there was no solid direction to take the analysis. I will go into it in detail in this post so the guesses don’t overwhelm the analysis of the song as a whole.

And I’ll spell out my conclusions from this post in the full analysis of Dancing with our Hands Tied. But that post was getting very long and I was afraid nobody would read it. So to make things even more confusing each line in DWOHT is going to be its OWN post. But then I’ll do a main DWOHT post with just links to each different post. It’s a whole big thing.

Then we’ll get back to the end of Question

Was that explanation as confusing as trying to guess who Taylor’s songs are about?

I’d kiss you as the lights went out

This lyric is the big connection to Question…!  Taylor is talking about what she would have done (“I’d”).  In her regretful imaginary re-do of the situation, Taylor says she would calmly and happily kiss this woman that she privately loves–in front of everybody (instead of reacting negatively). 

Her secret lover introduces conflict into Taylor’s self-identity.  She’s running smoothly along, being super-straight, dating boys, but then…  She has this attraction to a woman, which clashes with her perception of herself, and with her persona (Question…  [Part 13]).  “He looks up, grinning like the devil” is the culmination of Taylor’s fears.  Someone or something is undermining Taylor’s brand-image and the heaven inside this relationship.  It might be Karlie’s beard/husband, and/or the public scrutiny and judgment about sapphic love or all of that.  Whoever it is, the exposure terrifies Taylor and causes an anxiety-spiral.

This lyric is the same regretful sentiment that’s in the song, Betty.  James/Taylor is remorseful about flying off the handle in that crucial public moment and to rectify it wants to kiss Betty/her female lover in front of her stupid friends (the media, fans, & public) (Question…  [Part 17]).  It’s a recurring thought how Taylor wishes she would have kissed her woman out in the open.  Betty continues “If you kiss me will it be just like I dreamed it?” The regret in these re-do fantasies, tells the audience that this is not how Taylor acted in the crucial moment.  She is contrasting what she wished she would have done with what actually occurred.

I think this moment has a similar vibe to New Years Day. Lights don’t necessarily go out at 12:01 AM on New Years, but  the midnight kiss is the culmination of the celebration. Taylor wants to be able to kiss her secret female lover at the party (“I want your midnights”).  Instead, they clean up the mess the next day when everyone else is asleep or hungover in order to keep their affair on the down-low. Due to closeting, Taylor and her girlfriend never get to have that special moment (like all the other couples) at the peak of the festivities.

Lights go out can also indicate an emergency.  Instances of lights suddenly turning off include:  A power-outage due to a storm or a blackout during war (both scenarios are discussed in other songs regarding this same topic).  Taylor is comparing kissing her lover in public to some emergent situation. 

The lights turning off might also be saying Taylor’s name in lights (The Lucky One), switched off because of this kissing.  Her fame turned off because of this gay moment (this was what Taylor feared would happen in that fraught moment). 

Finally, the lights going out might show the love going dark and cold as a result of Taylor’s gay-panic.

Taylor wishes she could just kiss her secret sapphic lover in public.