We were sitting in his green Toyota Camry after he snuck over at midnight and handed me a mix CD complete with album art and cute little liner notes with inside jokes. It was half songs to introduce me to his diverse (Tool) music (Tool) tastes (Tool) and half "Wonderwall." Standard high-school mixtape. We popped it in and scooted to the backseat to get busy. Then, of course, "People Are Strange" came on.
I paused and ventured, "Oh, uh... the Doors!" My dad is a baby boomer, so I was on top of this shit. The boy's face lit up with the realization that I was tracking with him—and at 16, I was high on his validation. As his silky blond curls spilled across his blessedly acne-free forehead, he said with a completely straight face, "Jim Morrison is one of the most underrated poets of the '60s."
He said this as Morrison moaned: "Women seem wicked when you're unwanted / Streets are uneven when you're down." It occurred to me through my hormonal haze that this was an unsexy mood for a make-out, but clearly this boy thought I was cool enough to "get" the Doors. Maybe I didn't need K-Ci & JoJo to get tingly in my frayed American Eagle jeans. Maybe I was the type of cool girl who was turned on by a beautiful rock god who seemed to really think that women who don't want to S his D are in cahoots with the devil.
So I agreed that I loved the Doors and put my mouth on his mouth because his pretty blue eyes were so hopeful and he played Puck in our school's staging of A Midsummer Night's Dream and he let me touch his hair whenever I wanted. I wanted to be liked. The regrettable pop punk I blasted in my 1995 Acura Integra made him look like he was considering joining the seminary, so I acquiesced to his more sophisticated taste. I was cool. I totally got it. I visited Jim Morrison's grave in Paris that summer and left a daisy. I took a picture to send to the boy. I totally got it.
What I Think Now: Let's clear something right up: Jim Morrison is not underrated. You don't get to have Oliver Stone make your posthumous biopic and claim to have been overlooked by posterity. I'll tell you who was underrated, though: the 16-year-old version of me, who tricked herself into liking the Doors for some dry humping in a cramped backseat that only led to chafing and heartache.
Most of Morrison's song lyrics and poetry read as though lifted out of a ninth grader's tear-soaked, semen-encrusted journal. The dude was basically one big penis singing into a microphone. His horny gender myopia could only seem nuanced to the die-hardest of Mötley Crüe fans. And yet I was expected to herald it as genius? In 2003? Like, way after riot grrrl raised its hand and was like, "Um, excuse me, no thank you, perhaps go fuck yourselves"? And I did. Looking back, this represented a roadblock on my journey to understanding that women can do more than suck dicks in a recording studio (as Morrison's girlfriend was actually asked to do during the recording of "You're Lost Little Girl").
I don't know why, without fail, every teen boy music nerd has to love the Doors for a minute. It's built into their DNA, like sleeping on blue plaid sheets and playing Call of Duty. Maybe it's because Jim Morrison was a white man whose physical beauty was mistaken for depth, whose poetry consisted primarily of getting high and calling himself a poet, and whose widespread cultural borrowing (blues, romantic poetry, Native American mysticism) mainly generated rhyming couplets ("There's a killer on the road / His brain is squirming like a toad") worthy of a toddler playing a word-matching game.
In other words: Fuck the Doors. Pére Lachaise is a nice cemetery, though. Save your daisy for Chopin.
Was It Worth It?: It was until his ice crystal sorcerer eyes convinced me I liked Tool.