Hey, it’s Jesse, offering my belated birthday greetings. So you’re 69, wow! Remember when that was an aspirational number? Ah, time.
Speaking of time, I wanted to reach out to you about that time in the 80s when you wished you had my girl. I realized—with the wisdom that comes from 37 years of slowly driving my small town’s lonely roads every Friday eve, followed by a late night tequila shot—that you honestly might have no idea how your 1981 hit song impacted me.
My therapist said it’s time you do.
Jessie’s been a friend, you sang. A good friend. Yet by repeatedly roaring, “I wish that I had Jessie’s girl,” you completely betrayed both my trust and my ego. I was essentially reduced to the annoying boyfriend role. Asking the world “Where can I find her, a woman like that?” failed to acknowledge the obvious: she was already with a strong and mesmerizing presence. Me.
Don’t take my word for it? Recall 1980, Carly Simon, and her delightful ballad entitled—wait for it—“Jesse.” Unlike you, Ms. Simon kept the focus on my unmatched magnetism.
Carly tried to be strong with “Jesse, I won’t cut fresh flowers for you … I won’t make the wine cold for you” but we all knew. Guess who was cutting fresh flowers the minute my shadow hit her bungalow’s front stoop? Carly totally blew off Annie and Sally, the friends who warned her about me. And by the way, that wine was already chilled. Carly was waiting for me. Sally wished she was.
Whereas you reduced me to your love object’s love object. Rick, you didn’t even spell my name right. It’s J-E-S-S-E, not J-E-S-S-I-E. There is no I in Jesse, unless that was some subliminal mind game of yours, the thought of which still freaks me out.
You know what boy’s name was #37 in popularity in 1981? Jesse. You know what else? Jessie with an “i” came in at #196. BabyCenter.com doesn’t lie about the people’s favorites. The misspelling felt intentional, man.
For the record, Jesse means gift, as in a gift to Carly and a woman like that. And while this is not about her, Jesse’s girl had a name. It was Junebug, which sounds kind of weird now. Here’s a tip for you: remembering a girl’s name (or at least her nickname) goes a lot further than being “cool with the lines.”
No Rick, that ain’t that the way love’s supposed to be. You can’t force charm; it’s natural charisma that leads a guy to just show up on a former lover’s doorstep and find her waiting with a handful of drooping peonies ripped from the garden.
Lest you think my life turned out perfect, know this: Junebug and Carly Simon found out about each other. I blame your song and nosy Sally, who pieced two and two together. I was asked to leave.
I didn’t fade away though. Steve Perry sang about me returning home in Journey’s “Still They Ride.” Remember that one? Here’s a refresher:
“Jesse rides through the night, under the main street light. Riding slow. This old town ain’t the same, now nobody knows his name. Times have changed. Still he rides.”
Nevertheless, Jesse persisted. Steve Perry understood.
I like the ending too, where Perry subtly changed still he rides to still they ride (on wheels of fire, chasing thunder … all the good stuff). It’s like he foresaw that Western culture’s focus on the striving, competitive individual made some of us miss out on the group harmony espoused by ancient, wiser cultures.
So anyway, I hear Carly, Sally and Junebug are all in a book club, where apparently they drink elderberry gin and have a good ‘ole time.
Maybe you, Steve, and I could meet up and go chase some thunder or something. A book club might be fun too.
Jesse with no “I”