Sunday Songs: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – “Young Adult Friction”


Some people get by on their looks. Others, their success, or their sparkling personalities.

For some of us, all we have is our wit. For us, there’s “Young Adult Friction.”

Packed with puns, inflated with innuendo, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s masterpiece is smut for the cardigan set, the kind of song so bouncy that you don’t notice its filth at first listen. It’s a song about library sex, for fuck’s sake.


Even on my worst days, I know my brain’s the best thing I have going for me. It’s been my one constant, the only reliable form of self-confidence during my nerdiest days of middle school, and, I’m told, the most attractive thing about me now, even if I was called “very attractive” by a man at a gay karaoke bar Thursday night before he returned to his boyfriend. People cringe at puns or twists of phrases, but I’ve always felt that it was likely a form of jealousy, because whenever someone arrives at a logical conclusion a second before me, that’s how I feel, not unlike a sprinter at time trials. They were faster. Step it up. Get them next time.

“Young Adult Friction” tickles all the right portions of my brain. Lines like “I never thought I would come of age/let alone on a moldy page” the sort of brilliant double entendres that I’m almost angry someone arrived at before me. But that’s why I love it, because I give credit where it’s due: Even had I written those words, the accompanying music is something I could never have crafted. It’s the auditory equivalent of putting peanut butter and chocolate together for the first time, combined with the beauty of a private joke.

Everyone is inspired by different things, fueled by personal aims. For me, it’s the hope of crafting something that unassailable.

Tomorrow, perhaps I’ll write that thing. Today, I’ll keep studying those who got there before me.

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