PRINCE HOTWIRED HIMSELF into my teenage brain one hot summer day in Chico, California. My friend Shane had introduced me earlier that day to two sisters, Eden and Rainbow. The four of us walked through Bidwell Park, popped into a market for candy and soda, and then headed over to the sisters’ apartment. It was June, I’d just turned 18, and school was out forever.
Eden and Rainbow. Dear god, they were so hot. I can’t recall their exact features, but I’ll never forget the impact their beauty made. It didn’t so much raise the bar for me as it did remove it and replace it with a whole new set of standards. Theirs was a sensuality that wet the air. They shared the silent communication of sisters and knew the power they possessed over mere boys. I felt ignorant. I felt unsteady. The gulf between our development was vast.
We sat on their bedroom floor. Candles stood in for a sun held back by heavy fabric. We didn’t talk much. I think they were fascinated by Shane. His was a rippled physique that propelled him with confidence. I was there as the invisible extra. I knew in the moment that I was woefully overmatched by these girls, that I knew nothing of their mysteries. I silently vowed then and there to learn them and learn them well. Rainbow put a CD on: Sign O’ the TImes. Of course, I’d heard Prince before, but hadn’t thought much on him one way or the other. That changed as I sat observing and experiencing these two alien women. The Ballad of Dorothy Parker. Slow Love. If I Was Your Girlfriend. Hot Thing. Play in the Sunshine. Adore. Slow Love. The songs slid by and into me. The record announced itself as my instruction manual and this artist, Prince, as my new teacher.
I don’t know that I saw Rainbow again and Eden only now and then, but for a few years there remained in my mind a strong association between Prince and the sisters. Over time Prince became entirely my own. Yet, when I learned of his passing as I sat in the Oakland airport last week, I at once thought of them, of their room, of where Rainbow was standing when she pressed play and gifted me with a lifelong challenge to learn of the nature of lust, sex and sensuality, to learn of the interplay between spirituality and carnal desire. And suddenly, I regretted, quite awfully, never thanking the sisters for introducing me to a man whose genius guided me in ways that perhaps only another Prince devotee can fully understand and with whom I am still to this day madly in love.
“Always cry for love. Never cry for pain.” — Prince