Deena ElGenaidi | Longreads | January 2020 | 15 minutes (3,733 words)
In the second row, we anxiously awaited the band, taking selfies with our VIP lanyards still around our necks, reeling from the high of having just met Adam Levine. Music began to blare through the speakers to our left, and my eardrums rang with the shrieks of other girls in the crowd. We all stood at once, the entire audience one cult-like unit rising together. Adam practically skipped onto the stage as the screams grew louder, his own voice belting out the familiar “Oh yeah” that marks the beginning of the song “Misery.”
The members of Maroon 5 came out all in white, ethereal, and unreal. Just one hour earlier, I’d met Adam, talked to him, touched him. He wasn’t a person in my mind, but simply a projection of a fantasy — of a crush that would never come to fruition. My stepsister, my cousin, and I also had white shirts on, matching the band’s dress code for the night: Friday night whites.
So scared of breaking it that you won’t let it bend.
And I wrote 200 hundred letters I will never send…
Adam’s fingers wrapped themselves around the mic like a snake clutching its prey. He danced in the way only Adam could, his hips sensually twisting to the beat. He was so close we could see beads of sweat dripping down his forehead. I grabbed my camera — one of those digital types everyone had in 2011 — and began to shoot a video, but made sure not to watch through the lens or the camera screen. I wanted to see it all live, without a screen in my face. Adam placed the microphone atop its stand, his hands gliding up and down as he stroked the pole, his body moving in rhythm.
I am in misery.
There ain’t nobody who can comfort me.
I was 22, technically too old to be a “fan girl,” but mesmerized by Adam nonetheless. The way he moved, spoke, exuded sex. I hadn’t yet had sex. I’d never even talked about it because growing up, it wasn’t something we ever talked about in my house. But Adam represented sex, and through him, a public figure so far removed from my own immediate reality, I learned to express desire.