The Song That Changed Your Life: Picks
Dude Looks Like a Lady by Pat Mills
I never liked rock music. I was too busy repressing my secret love of dance music to do anything else, but it was 1990, and I was determined to be exactly like the teenage boys I wanted to be. Having just moved to a new city and having no friends, I knew that if you were like everyone else, you might survive. I was 14, pre-pubescent and terrified. High School was about to start. I knew I wasn't ready.
It didn't occur to me that having a name like Pat might be a problem. My voice was about as high as a helium balloon. My hair looked like a Timotei commercial. I was naive.
It was high school. The place where how you look is more important than who you are. I became what everyone thought I was. I became a girl.
If you had tits, you'd be a really hot chick, was the complimentary insult. The other insults burned a holes in my psyche and my diary. It wasn't until 8 months into the school year before my french teacher made the realization, tu es un garçon? in front of everyone I wished I could be. I had never felt more like a freak.
But then I discovered Aerosmith.
When I heard Dude Looks Like a Lady for the first time, I finally felt like I was part of something. I WAS a dude who looked like a lady. And maybe there wasn't anything wrong with that.
Aerosmith protected me. I hummed the song to myself in the presence of all bullies. I felt a kinship with Steven Tyler - He was androgynous like me, but a rock star. The kind of man who, if boiled down to his essence, and solidified into a suppository, could cure the current constipation epidemic in North America. A national hero, to some. Especially the constipated. I finally had a role model.
It didn't matter how lonely I was, if I remembered that Steven Tyler liked it, liked it, liked it, liked that, I got a green light to be something resembling myself for the first time in my life. I didn't make any friends during my first year of high school, but I felt comfortable being alone. I was OK being a dude who looked like a lady.
I never liked rock music, but it saved my life.
Pat Mills is from Toronto, ON