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A Little Bit Dangerous

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You pack your bag.

You take control.
You’re moving into my heart
and into my soul.
Get out of my way!
Get out of my sight!
I won’t be walking on thin ice to get through the night.

It was 1990. The dawn of a new decade. I was a freshman in high school. Scared, frightened, meek, but just a little audacious, I wanted to be the girl in this song – the dangerous one. The one who had eyes that hit like heat. There was power in being perceived that way. There was power in beauty – and a sinister elegance in danger. I knew then, however, that true power and danger didn’t need to announce themselves boldly and grandly. They didn’t shout or cause a commotion. They didn’t attack or assault.

It was the quiet ones you had to worry about.

If I portrayed danger, it was in the name of protection, like those poisonous caterpillars who displayed their colorful plumage-like shells to ward off any would-be predators. I was small and slight. Against a brawny football player I didn’t stand a chance. Against a riled-up teacher, I was powerless. It’s a wonder I was so daring and so mean. (Sometimes you have to be a little mean to survive.) That was the business of high school. That was the game.

Hey, where’s your work?
What’s your game?
I know your business
but I don’t know your name…
Hold on tight,
you know she’s a little bit dangerous.
She’s got what it takes to make ends meet
the eyes of a lover that hit like heat.
You know she’s a little bit dangerous.

Popularity was the main currency of those ridiculous high school days. That wasn’t what I was after. Hell, after a while I didn’t even hope for acceptance. Mostly what I wanted to do was survive. I wanted to get through it all relatively unscathed. Brutality waited around every corner ~ the burning end of a cigarette in the bathroom was always attached to the hairy arm of an older boy who would either smile or stub it out on the back of your neck as soon as you took your place at a urinal and unzipped your pants.

In the locker room, in those scant minutes we had to change after physical education, roving packs of pugnacious and puerile boys ran amid the maze of metallic boxes, honing in on their prey and taking their squirming catch around the corner to the showers. I never stayed to watch what happened next.

You turn around, so hot and dry.
You’re hiding under a halo, your mouth is alive.
Get out of my way!
Get out of my sight!
I’m not attracted to go-go deeper tonight.

Somehow I managed to skirt all of that. We’re often a little more popular than we think we are. (And sometimes, a lot less.) I was never great at reading the crowd, so I did my own thing – flagrantly and yet unassumingly. The stray skirmish at lunch, the random bloody nose, the whispers of a knife – they passed right by. I was more cloak than dagger. When I eventually did come out of my shell, I’d already built a fortress around me.

Hey, what’s your word?
What’s your game?
I know your business
but I don’t know your name…
Hold on tight…

A few years later I really did turn a little bit dangerous. I was careless with hearts, dismissive of love, and had a predilection for hurting anyone before they could get close enough to hurt me. Strangely, and somewhat sadly, that sort of danger seems to hurt the one who wields it more than anyone else.

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