There’s this speech I found on YouTube where Taylor Swift’s mother, Andrea, is presenting her an award and she tells the story of how she and her husband told their teen daughter they didn’t like a boy she was crushing on. Taylor retreated to her bedroom and wrote Love Story.

For those unfamiliar, this is a crazy catchy tune from 2008 and one of her most popular.

As the highlight clips from Swift’s Eras Tour stop at Wembley keep coming over my social media feeds, I’ve been thinking of that formative moment her mother shared. It’s like a 20-year fast forward.

What a rush.

Surely Andrea couldn’t have seen what was coming, the emotional avalanche that travels down stadium rows each night when her daughter takes the stage, fans shouting every word to Love Story and all the others, but boy did she help facilitate it by being a supportive parent.

In one clip from London, I saw Mama Swift entering the arena, interacting with fans along the way, seemingly wiping a tear as she made her way to the VIP section. How does one process what her daughter has unleashed?

I’ve become a Swiftie at the ripe ol’ age of 62. No, I don’t know the words to all the songs. Far from it. However, I have been haphazardly combing YouTube since about October, letting it take me down rabbit holes, watching interviews as often as music videos on a quest to understand what the heck is going on with this phenomenon.

This fascination was egged along by my twice-weekly physical therapy sessions with Kathleen, a true Swiftie who helped fill in some of the blanks for me. At one point I began doing my march-in-place exercises with ankle weights while reciting the bridge to Cruel Summer in my head. The bridge — which is famously shouted at all Eras Tour concerts – has a line I find gut-wrenching in its emotional candor.

The song is about a summer romance with a guy she knows she shouldn’t get serious with, but she falls:

“And I screamed for whatever it’s worth, ‘I love you’ ain’t that the worst thing you ever heard?”

She follows it with, “He looks up grinning like a devil …”

Oh lord, stop. I can feel that guy reveling in that moment and her going, holy smokes, I just put it all out there.

Quite a story she tells, and roughly half the fans in the packed arenas she plays are like, yep, I know this emotion, this self-chiding acknowledgement that I’m smitten. And they sing it with her like their lives depend on it.

I’ve seen a fair amount of social media comments and videos where people remark how safe the women at Taylor Swift concerts feel. It’s those captured emotions that ring familiar, expressed over and over again until their lungs are depleted from singing along. She gets them. Odds are an album or “era” are going to resonate at one time or another, whether you’re forlorn, vindicated, loved, unloved, fired up, sad or just plain glowing.

Sure, I also see the occasional negative thread, most recently one where respondents are mocking a clip of Swift dancing, letting loose in a gold fringe dress to You Belong With Me. She is clearly having fun with the fringes, switching direction to make them sway, moving her hips, smiling at the audience in whichever sold-out stadium she’s in that day. And the Swifties are going bonkers.

The negative commenters are missing the point. Taylor Swift’s slight awkwardness is what makes her relatable. She doesn’t fancy herself a Juilliard-trained dancer. She’s there to enjoy herself. Who among us doesn’t like seeing someone transcend imperfection and shine in spite of it?

It brings to mind the people who never understood that a good part of the appeal of Jennifer Gray in Dirty Dancing and Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex and the City was that they weren’t conventional beauties. A lot of us – especially women – relate to the ordinariness in them. It’s the point. If you need a porcelain perfect figure to stare at, buy a Barbie. Or maybe acknowledge you’re not the target audience for this singer or this movie or every darned thing in the universe.

Shocking to some, I know.

I think it’s just luscious that the teen in her room turning her angst into lyrics is still doing it and having her way with the world in the process. Add in hunky Travis Kelce, supportive and exuding the kind of confidence she needs and deserves, and it’s easy to see the vast appeal.

No way I’m her target audience, but I’m entranced nonetheless.

[Editorial Note: This is my 19th installment in a series I began in order to give my writing some flow after being in a healing phase from knee surgeries for a year (2023-24).]