Daily Archives: November 14, 2012

Radio XI, side A, track 7: “Roxanne” by The Police

Oh, The Police, I was a naive young boy.  Here’s what I thought this song was about:  I thought that “the red light” that Roxanne was putting on was a metaphor for her telling somebody that she didn’t want to make out with them (or maybe do more stuff with them even, not that I would know what that other stuff would be).  So to me, this song was about the frustration of some guy who had a girlfriend named Roxanne who didn’t want to kiss him, and he was trying to convince her that it was all right.  That she could give him the “green light” to make some magic.  When you guys sang about her walking the streets for money, I had no idea what that could mean, much less what selling one’s body to the night could entail.

Don’t get me wrong, The Police, I’d heard of prostitutes, or what I would more commonly refer to as hookers.  I mean, I’d watched enough episodes of “Night Court” to know that you could get arrested for being one, but I didn’t actually know what they did besides snapping their gum and having big hair.  Dan Fielding certainly enjoyed leering at them, so it had to have something to do with sex, right?

I’d like to say that I’ve become more wise to the ways of the world since recording this song on my tapes, The Police, but sadly, that’s not the case.  Let me tell you a little story:

Several years ago, my future wife rented a little house in a part of town that was probably not the safest place to live.  It was a fascinating street.  Driving down it was almost like a weird urban tableau of the stages of the cross.  You had family home, family home, family home, crack house, crack house, and then 4 churches.  A sociologist could make a career out of those 5 blocks.

In those days, I would drive over to visit, and usually wouldn’t leave until around midnight.  It was on one of those nights that I was walking to my car to drive home when a woman approached me.  She was a small, skinny woman wearing a green lame dress that seemed a little skimpy for this time of night.  I’ll also mention she was black, only because that’s going to factor in later on in my story.  She had a lot of makeup on, so it was hard to tell her age, but I’m going to say mid-thirties.

So this woman asked me if I wouldn’t mind driving her down the block to the corner.  It seemed like a strange request since the corner was only a few blocks away, but she was wearing some pretty high heels and I’m one thing if not polite, and it was on my way, so I said sure, and we were on our way.

But when we got down to the corner, she asked if I wouldn’t mind driving a little further.  Again, I didn’t want to be rude, so I agreed.  I was starting to realize that this may not have been the best idea, but it was late and the lady needed a ride.  What was I going to do?  So as we were driving, I struck up a conversation with her.  I told her my name and asked her what her name was.  This is when I really started realizing I may have made an error in judgment.

She looked at me suspiciously, then reached over and patted my chest and asked “Are you a cop?”  It took me a few seconds to realize that she was probably looking for a wire.  I said no, I wasn’t, and she relaxed and told me her name.  We then proceeded to have a conversation.  She asked me if I had any cigarettes (I didn’t).  She asked me if I had any weed (again, no).  She asked me if I had any prescription drugs or possibly even crack (nope on all of it).  She told me about her daughter who had been taken away from her.

I realized at this point that this woman may be more troubled than I realized.  Since I didn’t have any cash on me, I asked if she was hungry and wanted some food.  She said that a burger would be great, and so we drove up to Jack In The Box which wasn’t too far away.  On our way there, she took out my They Might Be Giants CD that I’d been listening to, threw it in the back seat and put in a Jay-Z CD she’d had in her purse.  It was slowly dawning on me that I may have gotten myself into an awkward situation.

We went to Jack In The Box and I bought her a burger.  She got into a shouting match with the man at the checkout window for reasons I’m still unclear on.  I think they knew each other or something.  Then, she asked if I’d drop her off at an abandoned gas station not far from the fast food place.  I did, and as she was getting out of the car, she told me that I’d restored her faith in white people.

Then I drove home.  I called my girlfriend up on the way and said “I think I may have picked up a prostitute.”  In another relationship, this may have led to anger and accusations, but my girlfriend (a tough gal from New Orleans) was already pretty well aware of my farmboy naivete, and confirmed that yes, I probably did.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the last time I gave a ride to a random stranger, but it was probably the most memorable and probably the best example of my lack of understanding of the world around me, The Police.  In fact, it wasn’t until a few years later that it occurred to me that my passenger may have thought that the burger and fries I’d bought for her was to be payment for whatever services she would have then rendered.  My girlfriend confirmed that yes, this was indeed the case, and was not surprised that it had taken me that long to figure this out.

Anyway, the point is, The Police, I’m not good at identifying prostitutes.

“Roxanne”

Hahahaha

Roxanne

You don’t have to put on the red light

Those days are over
You don’t have to sell your body to the night

Roxanne

You don’t have to wear that dress tonight

Walk the streets for money
You don’t care if it’s wrong or if it’s right

Roxanne

You don’t have to put on the red light

Roxanne

You don’t have to put on the red light

(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
Oh

I loved you since I knew ya

I wouldn’t talk down to ya

I have to tell you just how I feel
I won’t share you with another boy

I know my mind is made up

So put away your makeup

Told you once, I won’t tell you again, it’s a bad way

Roxanne

You don’t have to put on the red light

Roxanne

You don’t have to put on the red light

(Roxanne) You don’t have to put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
You don’t have to put on the red light (Roxanne)
(Roxanne) Put on the red light
You don’t have to put on the red light (Roxanne)

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