I understand that we never outgrow certain things. I still like my cereal super soggy and my milk shaken. I will always respect a good, big swingset. Mary Poppins is and always will be my favorite movie. But today I was confronted with proof positive that I have really not progressed much from where I was at age 6.

I remember watching my dad help me dub my first tape. (Ah, the roots of copyright infringement. How it could bring a family together.) I had gotten a new stereo for Persian New Year, so I'm not joking when I say it was hovering around 15-20 years ago. I wasn't tall enough to see what was taking place on the bar countertop (some would say that hasn't changed?). But I knew with all my heart what was going on. The tape to be dubbed FOR ME AND ONLY ME onto the translucent orange blank tape (what a treat!) was... Madonna "Like a Virgin". I'm talking Angel, Dress You Up, or for ye 80s pop cultural neophytes (hi Jon!), "Material Girl".

The years passed and the tapes got more standard. A translucent clear - but with yellow label- for my dubbing of Madonna "Madonna" (I had to work backwards on that one. Caught on late.) A store-bought True Blue, which notably became my first creative foray into dance. I mean, when the woman says "Get up, stand tall, put your back/up/against the wall, cause my love is dangerous", well then, you throw your little body against the wall, arms in the air, in a display of prepubescent sexuality. And your father, who is the Patron of the Arts, shelling out a buck for each performance, tries to sneak out, but you remind him that there IS ANOTHER song left on this side of the tape before INTERMISSION!

It was around this time that I realized Madonna had progressed to other media (without me?) -- Desperately Seeking Susan made its breakthrough, and I marvelled at a woman so cool she'd dry her armpits on a bus stop hand-dryer. I watched the film "Who's That Girl" over and over again, wondering how long I had to wait to dye *my* hair platinum. Then I bought the soundtrack, impressed and feeling justified (and arguing) that my idol was also, apparently, bilingual "Quien es, esta nina?/Who's that girl?".

The hits kept coming... as You Can Dance, a remix album, was released, I'd insist on staying in the car and listening to it. Lying sweaty in the back of mom's Ford Taurus with the windows barely cracked (Chicago summers, no less), I'd sing along literally Over and Over while mom and dad browsed the racks of Burlington Coat Factory on any given Sunday. Everyone knew I loved her. If there was a Madonna question, you'd ask *me*. That's just the way it was.

You guys who only knew her for Like A Prayer missed out on the whole Dick Tracy movement. In another G family moment (who knew so many of them were due to The Unvirgin herself?) - my sister Susie and I choreographed and entire show to I'm Breathless in our basement. And made my dad sit through it. (Please visit www.boygirlparty.com to see how the choreographer of "I'm Going Bananas" has since matured, well, at least musically.)

While my mom had the idea to let me have a punk 9th birthday party, I was strictly forbidden from attending Madonna concerts. Ever. (Apparently, dressing like her once per year was acceptable, though?) I knew mom didn't like her, encouraging me to listen to Cyndi Lauper instead, or even Michael Jackson, the King of Crotch-Grabbing. I had to sneak over to Kathy Stachniw's house to watch the forbidden Justify My Love video. And we didn't have cable until I was almost through with high school, so videos and awards shows were all I had to go on to keep in touch.

I studied dance. I admittedly never read "Sex", but that's not for lack of me looking for it at the library. I covered "Material Girl" at my school fun fair's Star Studio. I read about her and I enjoyed her freedom while I was a sheltered Persian girl in the midwest. Eventually, I went to University of Michigan. Coincidence? Perhaps.

I stayed faithful through Erotica, Bedtime Stories, and Ray of Light. I bought Evita and took off to Argentina to see the Casa Rosada. I stopped watching Sean Penn movies and tucked away my signed Rodman photo. I nodded to the Maverick building along Santa Monica when I'd drive through L.A. I forgave her for making The Next Best Thing. I overlooked her bastardization of Japanese culture, then Indian. I read about Kabbalah (although I always misspell it "Kaballah," which may be a sign in and of itself?). When she did Swept Away, we got in a fight, and I stopped paying attention to her for a few months. But we made up and American Life joined my expansive cd collection.

Somewhere in there, I *might* have bought her earliest album (horrendous electronica dance stuff from some Scandinavian country, if anyone's looking for it). And I *might* have dropped $20 for the London Symphony Orchestra's tribute to her. But I'm not admitting anything.

What I AM admitting is that this morning, some 20 years after this madness began, I found myself rushing to try and get tickets to her next tour. I'm 26, and I remembered last week that "I'm the boss of me" (said in my most petulant voice). So I dedicated $100 to obtaining tickets to her 'Reinvention' show at the Forum.

No such luck.

So, why am I admitting all of this?

Because part of me is as disappointed as the, what, 11 year old who wasn't allowed to see Blonde Ambition (in retrospect, watching Madonna masturbate on-stage would have been a bonding moment I really didn't need to have with my mom).
It's something I can't seem to get a handle on -- I mean, I am 20 years older than I was when I first started listening to her. In the interim, the world has progressed from tape walkmen to pen-sized mp3 players. We've gone from Reagan to Bush (ok, bad example).

As for Miss Madonna, she has clearly (well, to me) progressed from promiscuous strumpet to zen mother of two. She's gone from wailing popstress to aspiring Streisand impersonator. Her nasal Michigan accent has been replaced by her renown affected British accent. And her literary endeavours have moved from porn-and-poetry buffets to children's bestsellers.

The question remains: If she has grown up, why haven't I?