Remembering the Dumb Moments That Shaped Me Through Songs - Part Two
B 52’s “Dance This Mess Around”
I’m 19-years-old and working at a boutique that sells cheap, brightly colored clothing brought up from Los Angeles. My boss is young, funny and I just think she is so cool. She smokes ultra-thin cigarettes, wears feather earrings and flirts with the older man who owns the restaurant beside our shop. She knows who she is. I don’t know who I am yet, and this is evident in my ever-changing hairstyle. My boss is the kind of person who isn’t afraid to be vulnerable. It makes me feel safe right away. When we first start working together she tells me she knows she can trust a person by their ability to open up and tell stories about their lives right off the bat. I like this idea. While working, we play The B2’s a lot. Whenever “Dance This Mess Around” comes on my boss does a little routine, shaking her head and mouthing all the words. She doesn’t care about who see’s her or if she is dancing like a lunatic. Being willingly vulnerable means that she is never plagued with embarrassment. It seems like a better way to live. I want to be vulnerable like her one day.
Neil Young & Crazy Horse “Lookin’ For A Love”
I blow my boyfriend to this song by default because we listen to a lot of Neil Young. He takes a video of it on his shitty, flip-phone video camera. I’m starring up into the lens, my eyes big and stupid like a gold fish in a pixelated pond. When we watch the video together, we are both proud of ourselves for the secret movie we buried deep in his cellphone. Almost a year later we break-up. It’s one of those messy break-ups that survives for years after-the-fact on lies, cheating and individual packets of lube. We sleep together in secret. We’re just trying to even the score. The last time I have sex with him, I feel terrible about myself. He puts out a cigarette in an empty coffee can on my kitchen table and makes a mess of my bed. As he gets dressed to leave my house I think about the days when we were “in love." I think about how he would put on that Neil Young song and I’d pretend he had written that song for us. That sentiment is laughable now. Not all relationships are as deep as love ballads. Some relationships are just amateur porn buried in secret on a cellphone.
Depeche Mode “Question Of Time”
I’m high on acid for the first time in my life sitting in my bedroom with my boyfriend at the time. I live in the industrial area of town, which becomes dead and unsafe at night. My bedroom is on the first floor and my windows look into our dirty balcony area, which is guarded by a cardboard cutout of a dog and an old futon. People often pass out on our front steps. We have to call the police a lot in this neighborhood. I’m used to all the Johns now. I get asked if I am working whenever I walk home at night.
But, my boyfriend and I are high, having fun. Sugar acid. We are flipping records and lying on the carpet. Depeche Mode is blasting from my speakers. Black Celebration. His favorite.
Suddenly, someone knocks on my bedroom window. A figure with a blanket wrapped around her head like an over-sized turban knocks her fist on the glass yelling, “I’m looking for John. Where is John?” She is trying to stick her face into the cracks in the bars that protect the outside the glass. If she gets her head stuck, I ask myself. Will we have to use butter to grease her out?
My trip tightens. I start to freak out. Really freak out. Luckily, my boyfriend is there to handle it. I’m too high to talk to strange people pushing their faux-turbans through the bars outside my window.
Crazy lady finally leaves after what feels like hours, but was probably 90 seconds. “Question of Time” starts to play. My boyfriend and I are silent as Dave Gahan methodically repeats, “It’s just a question of time” over and over. I imagine thousands of women with blankets wrapped on their heads, slinking through the windows and taking over my bedroom. Maybe they eat our faces off? Maybe they just push their stinky bodies up against ours? I get up, turn off Depeche Mode and put on The Replacements because The Replacements are safe.
Discharge “Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing”
I’m 25-years old and working at a coffee shop. I hate everything about my life. My debt is out of control from touring and student loans. I can barely pay my rent or any of my bills. I make minimum wage and my boss is a teenager who talks down to me. We split our minimal tips. I buy my cigarettes in nickels. But, I do not feel sorry for myself. This is just where my life is at. If anything, it propels me to work harder so that this becomes just a shitty memory. When I work the evening shift, one of the duties is to clean the dishwasher. No one wants to do the job, but I always volunteer because it’s the one time during the shift that I can listen to my headphones and ignore everyone. I take a really long time to clean the dishwasher. I’m meticulous, but only to savor the time I have alone with my headphones. I listen to Discharge as I scrub at the film covering the metal dish pit. I feel like a stupid, angry teenager again. I can’t decide if that makes me feel better or worse.
Previously: Part One