The Other Song

She’s Always A Woman
(Billy Joel)

She can kill with a smile
She can wound with her eyes
She can ruin your faith with her casual lies
And she only reveals what she wants you to see
Yeah, she hides like a child
But she’s always a woman to me

She can lead you to love
She can take you or leave you
She can ask for the truth
But she’ll never believe you
And she’ll take what you give her, as long as it’s free
Yeah, she steals like a thief
But she’s always a woman to me

Oh-she takes care of herself
She can wait if she wants
She’s ahead of her time
Oh-and she never gives out
And she never gives in
She just changes her mind

And she’ll promise you more
Than the Garden of Eden
Then she’ll carelessly cut you
And laugh while you’re bleedin’
But she’ll bring out the best
And the worst you can be
Blame it all on yourself
Cause she’s always a woman to me


She is frequently kind
And she’s suddenly cruel
She can do as she pleases
She’s nobody’s fool
But she can’t be convicted
She’s earned her degree
And the most she will do
Is throw shadows at you
But she’s always a woman to me

Yes there are better Billy Joel love songs — Just the Way You Are seems logical. But She’s Always a Woman became our song. Yes, the woman character is, for lack of another term, a bit of a bitch. Well that’s one interpretation anyway. But in my late teens and early 20’s, well . . . I do identify with this woman’s behaviour. It’s interesting to look back and know who I was then and wonder what happened to me that would allow the Marty train wreck to occur only eight years later. How did I get from strong, cool and cocky to suicidal, abused and beaten down? But that’s another post.

That first fall in Toronto, Kevin and I had been together a few times. But we weren’t a couple. We weren’t exclusive. He had at least two other girls and there were other boys coming and going in my life. Kevin and I hung out a lot, went places and did things. Talked. And sometimes ended up in bed together. I was crushing pretty hard on Kevin though. He was my favourite boy. I wanted to be his favourite girl. I wasn’t about to put all my eggs into his basket though. I didn’t think getting him into a committed relationship was an option. So I took whatever time I could get with him, had fun, lived in the moment, and hoped to find someone even better elsewhere that would love me as much as I loved him and we’d live happily ever after. I’ve never been the kind to sit around and pine for a guy.

October 23, 1987. Kevin dropped a crowd of us off at the bar. Me, MB, Tracey, Cindy Lou, and likely Bob, possibly Diane. The Eastwood Park Hotel on Lakeshore West. Kevin had that huge grey truck then, the one with the full-sized backseat. So he was always delivering us places because we all couldn’t fit into one taxi. He left. This wasn’t uncommon for him to drop us and go off to hang out with different friends, his other girls. We met up with a bunch of people at the club. I was underaged, but the bouncers always let me in. One night I even showed my bank card for ID. The manager always tried to get me to go work for him. There were strippers downstairs. Whenever I was there and on the dancefloor, he would come up to me and try to get me to come dance downstairs. The money was tempting but I knew some of the strippers and their lives were hard. Lots of drugs and prostitution. I wasn’t opposed to stripping, but if I was going to do it, I wasn’t going to do it in a dangerous dive on Lakeshore.

Scotty was all over me that night and I was into it. He was a cutie, funny, a great dancer. He was also a player, a real lady’s man (there seemed to be a few of these in our group), and I was fresh blood that he hadn’t yet conquested. He was well on his way to conquest that night. We were dancing every dance, flirting, touching, having a great time. The gang had taken over the big wooden booth in the corner by the dance floor. Taking a break from dancing, Scott squeezed a butt cheek onto the end of one bench and pulled me onto his lap. Drinking cc and coke, precariously perched on Scotty’s lap with his arms around my waist, hands massaging my thighs, nuzzling my neck with his lips, nipping at my ears. It seemed obvious where we were heading. Until I saw Kevin.

He had just come in and was gazing around the room looking for us. He spotted us, smiled and came over. Walked up to me, sitting on Scotty’s lap, held out his hand and said, “Lets dance.” And I took his hand and followed him to the dancefloor. And we danced. And we held hands. And we cuddled at the table. And we went home together at the end of the night. And we made love for the first time. We’d had sex before, but this was different. She’s Always a Woman was playing on the stereo and the lovemaking lasted until dawn and we fell asleep in each other’s arms. All the years that we were together, there was never a night that we didn’t sleep in each other’s arms. Even when we fought and hated each other, we couldn’t stand distance in bed. We talked about that night later and he told me that was when he finally made his decision on what to do about all the girls. I hadn’t realised he was struggling with the issue, had never thought that we would become exclusive. Felt certain he was in love with one of the other girls and would eventually weed me out of his life. But instead he picked me, came looking for me at the club, was worried one of the guys would steal me away, that he’d lost his opportunity.

The thing I had with Kevin that I’ve never had with anyone else is trust. He never lied to me, even when the truth hurt. I knew with 100% certainty that he loved me. He wasn’t big on saying it, which sometimes bothered me, but there was no doubt that he did. Sometimes I miss that certainty in my life. Sometimes I miss being held while I’m sleeping. Sometimes I wish I could call him just to hear him say, “You can do it Kel. Just do it.” Always when I hear Billy Joel I think of him. And smile.

Mood: lost on memory lane
Drinking: coffee
Listening To: Billy
Hair: tight to my head

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