The first time I listened to TLC’s “Waterfalls”, I was in my friend L’s bedroom, surrounded by pink walls, Barbies, and Beanie Babies.

“Did you know Left Eye puts a condom over her eye?” L marveled.

L was way more worldly than I was. This was pre-Internet days, and I took the comment at face value, letting my imagination run wild.

I didn’t know much about condoms at the time, but I did know I loved “Waterfalls”.

It sounded grown up, sultry and cool (crazy, sexy, cool you could say). Nothing like the sugary pop or oldies I listened to with my parents in their ’74 Cadillac Talisman.

TLC’s hit came out right before I transitioned to junior high and represented all these intangibles—crop tops, hip-hugging baggy jeans, hoop earrings.

Around this time, my parents gave in to buying my first stereo, the kind with two cassette players and an anti-skip cd player. My very first CD? The “Waterfalls” single featuring an edgy illustration of the singing trio.

I definitely didn’t know what the song was about at the time (Jason Waterfalls? Bodies in the gutter?) and I don’t think I even know what it’s about now.

It doesn’t matter, I still feel just like a 5th-going-on-6th-grader when I listen to it.

 6th grade, circa 1995

6th grade, circa 1995