Memoir

44. Won’t You Help Me Girl Just As Soon As You Can?

“Without a soundtrack, human interaction is meaningless.” – Chuck Klosterman

A Bad Drunken Typist

Breakups are always difficult.  It doesn’t matter if one is fifteen of fifty, whether you are the dumper or the dumpee, have been dreaming of this moment or dreading it.  Contrary to my baldness I am not Dr. Phil.  I don’t pretend to know anything about people beyond my own experience,  but for me the end of a relationship is the end of a dream and the beginning of uncertainty.  Am I broken?  Will I recover?  Will anyone want me?  Is that the last sex I will ever have?  Am I a horrible, unlovable person?

This is where Klosterman’s quote, which I have taken completely out of context, is perhaps at its most profound.  Nothing brings certainty to an emotionally uncertain situation like a soundtrack.  Music allows us to put our individual pain in the context of a collective experience, which somehow makes it more tolerable.

Melody was my first real girlfriend and thus my first real breakup, and it was entirely my fault.  What freshman boy is going to turn down the slutty blond eleventh grader on a church hayride?  Not this one, and if one older woman wanted to play “Paradise By the Dashboard Light” with me beneath a blanket and a starry sky, how many others were willing to do the same?  Sorry, baby.  I know it hurts to say goodbye, but it’s time for me to fly.

Several months passed and the only older woman in my life was a Bo Derek calendar.  I saw Melody in the stands of a varsity football game.

“How you been?”

“Good.”

“Can I sit down?”

“Sure.”

Smooth.  She kept her eyes locked on the ball field, sang the chorus to the Gap Band’s “You Dropped A Bomb On Me” repeatedly until I took the hint and left.  Three middle-aged black dudes could speak for fourteen year old Melody when she couldn’t find her own words.

I started calling her again and eventually broke the ice.  We reconciled telephonically via a dramatic shared reading of Chicago’s “Hard To Say I’m Sorry.”  I found the whole business so moving that I ran out and bought Chicago 16, and I hated Chicago.