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#RealLife: Weezer – Weezer (“The Blue Album”)

on May 09, 2014, 11:34am
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#RealLife is a monthly feature where Consequence of Sound staffers join forces with a diverse cadre of writers to share personal stories inspired by one legendary album. This month we’re tackling Weezer’s self-titled debut, sharing stories for every song on the proper album, as well as three of its well-known B-sides. Some of the stories may be inexorably linked to the album itself, others may just share its themes, tone, and atmosphere. Regardless, they’re all real.

I’m guilty of trashing Weezer. They’re also one of my favorite bands. Aside from Aerosmith and Nirvana, they were probably my first favorite band. I’m still guilty of trashing them, though, of drawing a jagged, black line between Pinkerton and everything that came after. And I know that’s unfair, but it’s hard not to feel betrayed by a group of guys who, with the release of “The Green Album”, abandoned me and my 12-sided die in the garage to go frolic with tigers on some island in the sun. “It’s like I don’t even know you anymore,” I sneered at my stereo.

And that’s unfair. And reductive. I’m aware of this. But I’m sorta weird about Weezer. After I saw them play the entirety of their self-titled debut LP–affectionately known as “The Blue Album”–back in 2011, I got stoned and babbled about how I’d “closed a chapter” with them. I know, but as a kid it wasn’t the actual songs that resonated so much as how weird they all were. And how weird they looked on the cover. And how weird everything about that record was. And how it made me feel like it was okay to be weird.

And I remember lying in sleeping bags at Jeremiah’s house, my friends and I softly singing “In the Garage” as we drifted off to sleep, smiling at Kitty Pryde and Ace Frehley, content in the fact that we weren’t the only ones playing stupid songs and writing stupid words.

It’s hard to believe “The Blue Album” turned 20 this week. It’s maybe harder to believe that it still sounds as good now as it did then. And isn’t that a relief? Because unlike the people in your life who drift into another guise you can’t comprehend, with music there’s always this remnant to return to that remains unchanged.

–Randall Colburn
Staff Writer

My Name Is Jonas

By Jennifer Roehm

My first job hired me on the spot. All it took was an interview to prove I was alive and breathing. I sat at a computer and sold Direct TV upgrades over the phone. My trainer taught us how to go off script and to trick old people. “I’m gonna go ahead and get this set up for you, okay?” People fell for it. “While we’re on the phone, I’ll add Showtime and Starz, okay?” It was so easy. On multiple occasions, people stopped me in the middle of my telemarketing spiel to say, “You’re really good at this, but I’m not going to buy anything.” But they totally did. And I set a record two days in a row, and they put my name on a scoreboard. I won an inflatable chair. We got one smoke break every two hours, and I would just go stand outside with everyone so I wouldn’t be alone.

I was scheduled for work in an hour. I sat in my car in the Honey Creek Mall parking lot and cried. I had never had a job, but I was really good at scamming old ladies. I drove home and never went back.

No One Else

By Emily Schwartz

It was a warm night and I could hear the water slosh in and out of my ears as I swum -– swum? -– swam around in her borrowed t-shirt and Mickey Mouse boxer shorts. He laughed, but he always laughed, and she watched me with half a smile that was obviously not a smile. She was a bit fat, and that made me happy, her scratchy cotton shirt billowing up around me in the water as I floated by along the side near the steps. We had come from the concert, and I honestly cannot remember if she’d been there as well. My focus was on him just as it had been since we were 13. Drawing a pencil sketch of ALIEN on an FAQ from the first day of physical science class. We’d bumbled around one another ever since. Never officially together, and not together now –- but swimming at his girlfriend’s parent’s house in the summer dark. Just two old friends. One old friend. One new couple and one old friend. I watched her with my head half under the water, and she watched me as he swam back and forth and the patio lights glinted off the surface of the pool. “We have a sauna,” she said, “if you want to go.” I didn’t, but we poked about anyway. Sitting on the cedar drying ourselves out in a room beside the kitchen. We had cokes from the fridge and then made our goodbyes. I waited in the car as he hung back for a moment by the door and I thought, “I should be better than this.” But afterward, when he asked me to stay, I did.

The World Has Turned and Left Me Here

By Conor Andrew Hall

Your lungs burn, and you can feel the flesh of each of your thighs rubbing each other raw. Stupid, stupid, chubby, fat thighs. Keep running. Just keep running. Ignore the hurt, ignore the burn. Add another block before you start walking again. What did you eat yesterday? You ate some bread at lunch. That’s okay, that’s good. You could probably get away with two rolls today. Probably. But, you can take comfort in the fact that you’re taking care of it. And it needs to be taken care of; to shut up your brothers. To shut up that stupid voice in your head that keeps you quiet in class. It’s not “puberty” anymore, and you’re not “big for your age”: kid, you’re fat. So keep running. Keep running and think about making eye contact with Molly DePuydt the other day. Can you believe that? She must’ve noticed you’ve been losing weight, or maybe that your sideburns have been coming in really nicely. Has to be. God, that was something. Okay, ow, cramp. Cramp. You can take it easy. Walk, but only for this block, and then you have to run again. Keep moving, champ, otherwise you’ll get left behind.

Buddy Holly

By Matt Melis

Slivers of light poke through the platinum-streaked skies and find Chicago’s Devon Avenue empty and anxious below on a late Saturday morning. Blue sawhorse barricades separate the sidewalks from the street, and families cram between the curb and the caravan of Indian and Pakistani businesses—restaurants, confectioneries, halal markets, jewelers, and fabric stores—that line either side. Only the wind negotiates the hairline cracks in the crowd: animating miniature orange and green flags and pinwheels; uplifting the pebble-lined, plaid kilts of four tree-trunk-thick, red-haired bagpipers; brushing past a rainbow of saris and jingling the ankle bracelets hidden beneath; ruffling a police horse’s mane and blowing through tufts of wispy black chest hair and thin, gold chains exposed by unbuttoned shirts before choking on heavy splashes of men’s perfume and escaping out sleeves.

Inside the Khan Barbeque, a family who shares the establishment’s name sits across from the Suitor, plates heaped with chicken, biryani, and flatbread between them. “Indian Day of Independence,” the Father says to the Suitor, waving a clean chicken bone at the parade passing outside. The Stepmother pinches like a crab at some lamb with a torn piece of bread rolled between her thumb and forefinger. Between them the Daughter in question pushes rice around her plate, never lifting her eyes from the brown clumps as she answers her parents’ questions underneath her breath in Urdu while the rest of the table keeps up friendly conversation in English. Not once does the Daughter make eye contact with the Suitor.

Uncle Aslam, gentle and graying, in the Suitor’s right ear. Uncle Aslam who left India as a young man to practice medicine in Kenya. Uncle Aslam whose son will marry a Sikh girl next month. Mashallah? Uncle Aslam tells these stories and drowns the Suitor’s plate in his favorite brown tamarind sauce. “Not enough?” he asks, pinching the bottle like an empty tube of toothpaste.

All of this has been carefully planned. The great tract of table and tandoori between the Suitor and the Daughter. Uncle Aslam between the Father and the Suitor. The restaurant, the table, the Indian Independence Day parade snaking and periodically erupting just behind them. Uncle Aslam’s flight that evening a convenient excuse for an early exit if need be.

The Suitor knows all of this and understands more than he lets on. He knows the Father doesn’t believe that someone with the Suitor’s complexion and Christian name (“Have you considered changing it?”) is really Muslim, not even after a trip to the Mosque together in Des Plaines. The Quran, a gift brought from Qatar and wrapped in a Home Depot bag, acts as a weeding out ruse. The Suitor knows not to place the bag on the floor. The meal itself is a trap. The Suitor eats with his right hand, not his left. All tests, prods, gamesmanship leading up to one final ruling.

“It was important for you to come today,” says the Father, dabbing the corner of his mouth with a cloth napkin. “My Daughter can choose to marry any man she wants…”

“Doctor, lawyer, engineer…” interrupts the Stepmother.

“No, no, no. Profession doesn’t matter, S—,” he snaps quickly, wincing, the right side of his face swollen and tender from an impacted tooth, his eyes dark and sunken from jet lag, the thorns in this lion’s paw.

“You could finish your engineering degree,” the Stepmother continues, not understanding what the Suitor means when he says he writes and does a website. How do you introduce such a person to family, to your sister, whose daughter married a mechanical engineer, to your brother-in-law, whose son recently got engaged to some type of doctor? How do you plan this type of wedding?

“Let me finish,” growls the Father, in pain and annoyed. “White and teacher is fine, but he must be Muslim…”

“Your temper…” the Stepmother scolds, trailing off in Urdu and beginning to cry.

“Yes, your temper is not good for your health, M—,” Uncle Aslam interjects, squirting another puddle of tamarind sauce on the Suitor’s plate. The forgotten Suitor sits quietly as the family argues. He glances over at the Daughter as she consoles the weeping Stepmother in Urdu and admonishes the Father in English.

A couple hours later, the Suitor and the Daughter sit together outside the restaurant—bookends on a sidewalk bench, careful to leave space between themselves. The parade ended long ago, India is still free, and a city work crew dismantle the barricades and sweep up the discarded pinwheels, leaflets, and concessions debris. They sit. Boy and girl. White and brown. Muslim and visibly Muslim. Buddy Holly and Mary Tyler Moore.

“That went better than I expected,” says the Daughter.

“We have their blessing then?”

“I think so.”

The Suitor smiles and slumps into the wooden slats of the bench. It’s the first time all day he remembers breathing or relaxing his muscles. “I don’t care what they say about us anyway… I don’t care about that,” he sings jokingly.

“Bang, bang…” says the Daughter.

He’s hers and she’s his.

Undone (Sweater Song)

By Dean Essner

The “done” in the word “undone” is a dead end, a brick wall, a complete stop, an ocean bottom. You’re done. You’re undone. There’s no more room to unravel. Your spool is empty.

That’s quaint, Rivers. But here I am, perched in the dark, completely alone, fixated on whether I am a naked body, a naked body surrounded by empty space, or just empty space.

Or just empty space.

Empty space.

Space.

Surfwax America

By Michael Roffman

Like Mark Occhilupo, I tell myself.

The beach is clear. The sand is hard. The storm is coming. Grey skies turn purple as seagulls fly between the condominiums. The waves crash violently against the jetties. A leftover umbrella giggles against the shoreline. In the distance, an old man walks torturously against the wind, his striped shirt a tattered flag.

Like Mark Occhilupo, I tell myself.

I dive head first into the coming wave. The chill strangles my bones, almost suffocating in its icy embrace. I surface, breathe for a second, only to be pummeled by another wave. Son of a bitch, I scream at myself. You can do this, you can do this you fucking loser. Another wave, the same result.

Like Mark Occhilupo, I tell myself.

Rain stabs above. Irene’s closer. I can feel her. The undertow tickles my feet, teasing with its menacing touch. I kick harder and harder and surface. There’s a calm, enough to see the shoreline. It’s far away. I think about childhood, the family trips, the picnics, and all the times I’ve wanted to fly.

Like Mark Occhilupo, I tell myself.

Behind me, the sky is now a bruised plum, the rain turns to little stones, and the wind howls over my shoulder. I can feel the surge below, starving for my blood, and waiting to attack. Without pause, I succumb to the waves, using every muscle in my limbs to stay on top.

Like Mark Occhilupo, I tell myself.

Then everything’s dark. Two minutes pass. Sand fills my lungs. Rocks massage my head. Irene cackles above as she squeezes with each passing second. I don’t fight. I close my eyes and wait for the inevitable. I think about my bedroom wall, a collage of heroes both fictional and real.

Like Mark Occh–

Nothing but silence. Foamy bubbles sift over my body as I bobble on the shore. All at once, I wake up and puke up the sand, the salt water, and whatever else I’ve swallowed. I crawl up higher towards the beach and lie there patiently as the rain washes the blood off my forehead. Everything hurts.

Irene watches from above.

Say It Ain’t So

By Sasha Geffen

The weirdest thing is how there’s no vomit. I never see him bending over, eyes to the floor, looking for a discreet place to deposit a couple pounds of fluid. He goes to the bathroom a lot, but I think it’s because he wants a private place to down more benzos than he’s supposed to. I never hear him retching. He never throws up.

On day one we go for drinks and the way I offer “drinks” I try to leave room for coffee or tea but his gravity’s pointed at a bar so we go to my favorite, the one near my apartment with the arcade games and the nightly anime screenings. We each have a beer, then he scours the liquor menu, gets a tequila on the rocks. I’ve never seen anyone drink tequila like that before, I say, and he laughs into a shrug.

He’ll turn 25 on Monday. He’s here because maybe he wants to move to Chicago, get out of Massachusetts, get into a city he can afford. We’re both city kids priced out of the city where we were born. I haven’t seen him in almost a decade.

We get dinner in the last glimmers of patio weather and then he sneaks into the combination bar and liquor store next door, buys a fifth of Jose Cuervo. He pours out shots on my coffee table. I laugh and do the first one with him, toasting to his future birthday. Warm trickle down the pipes. Sure. Less than an hour later he pours another round. Then another. They come in an aggressive rhythm, punctuating fits of conversation. I keep up. I always do. We play each other music out of my laptop, old Kanye and new Kanye and Hot Chip and Austra.

He wants to go out so we go out, go to Boystown ’cause he’s bored of the MA gay scene, out to a bar in Boystown because he’s not drunk enough yet. I’m not drunk, I think on the train, though there’s a well of tequila queued up in me. We get a last drink and then I drop him off at a bathhouse and get home somehow.

I don’t remember letting him in but I wake up to the sound of him crying to a Kendrick song on repeat so I guess at some point I must have let him in. I slither out into the living room and let him talk. He’s been going to AA meetings, he’s had all these problems, he can’t keep a job. There are all these unnatural pauses in his speech. He looks me right in the eye.

We were the only queer kids in our sixth grade class. We were best fucking friends.

He showers and gets shoes on and then falls asleep sitting up on my couch and when he wakes up a few hours later he thinks he’s waking up for the first time that day. It’s almost 2. I drive him down to the neighborhood where I went to school. He can’t walk too much at a time because he’s sick from doing poppers last night. I take him to a sculpture on the edge of Washington Park. A tall cement figure, Time personified, surveys a stream of people passing through his gaze. We sit in the empty fountain basin and stare back at Time.

He wants to tell me something. He is an alcoholic. He goes into the same speech he delivered this morning. He doesn’t remember. He pauses in the same places. He has practiced this.

A cold wind flows along the Midway from the lake. It is very quiet, and I am very heavy.

In the Garage

By Dan Caffrey

The second cast on my arm had the The Red Skull, but the first one had Wolverine. My Dad had drawn them both in permanent black marker, with Wolverine being the bigger hit on the playground. I guess third graders are more drawn to mutant superheros than masked Nazis. And in October of 1992, mutant superheroes were especially popular; X-Men had just premiered on Fox Kids as an animated TV show.

Huddled in front of the Danger Room (jungle gym) at recess, we’d decide who got to play what character. Even though Wolverine was on my cast, I always wanted to be someone with blue skin: Archangel, Beast, or Nightcrawler. I liked how they resembled classic movie monsters. I liked how they couldn’t hide their appearance. The other kids always fought over who got to be Wolverine, even the solitary girl in our group, who was usually forced to pick between Jean Grey and Rogue.

Then there was Tony.

Every gang of elementary schoolers has a Tony—the kid who’s a year older than you but can’t manage to find friends his own age, so he hangs out with (picks on) the third graders. I’m pretty sure Scott Farkus was a Tony.

But Tony was the Tony, the original Tony, the Tony who bitterly circled the playground and made fun of us for playing a gay-ass game like X-Men. His taunts stayed the same for a while, consisting of “dork,” “faggot,” and the occasional “fart-knocker.” One time, he used the term “queef chief,” which, looking back, was rather advanced for a fourth grader.

Then one day, his insults got physical. It was after school and most of my friends were gone, so we weren’t playing X-Men. I was just drifting down the playground’s enclosed tube slide (the kind where the ridges and screws tend to Indian-burn your skin), my Wolverine cast making it hard to pick up any real kind of speed. Every time I came out and my L.A. Lights hit the mulch at the bottom, Tony would be there waiting for me with a handful of bottle caps—actual bottle caps, not the candy. I’d brush myself off, and he’d throw one at me. I didn’t say anything to him, but I didn’t leave the playground either. A cap would hit me, and I’d just bow my head awkwardly to go take another sluggish descent down the slide.

I can’t remember how long this went on for, but I eventually started crying. It was a slow cry, the kind that starts as hot breath in your stomach, then forms into an acorn in your throat. Inside the slide, I’d try to swallow it, but the acorn would just melt and come out as tears. The sobs were monotonous and heavy. They were physically exhausting. Finally, I stopped climbing back up the slide, instead collapsing on my knees in the mulch, my shoulders convulsing as the tears continued to slick my cheeks. I looked up at Tony. He smiled, satisfied, and started walking away.

I didn’t start smiling until I saw the rock. It wasn’t an actual rock, more like a deformed shard of concrete. It had sharp, uneven edges, but was also compact, circular enough to hold. My sobs mutated into wicked laughter—although there were still tears—and I screamed Tony’s name. He turned around. I hurled the concrete grenade at him, hitting him square in the forehead. Immediate blood. I don’t think the injury was too serious, but I’m told the flesh around the skull is pretty thin. It’s why wrestlers smuggle razors in their bandanas. One tiny incision makes for a lot of gushing. And Tony was gushing. He clutched his head and howled, thrashing his body as he dashed up the playground toward the school like a runaway scarecrow. He never came around our group again.

Even in the moment, I knew that what I’d done wasn’t heroic. Tony was too pathetic to even qualify as a true bully. There was probably a more rational and less violent solution than what I’d done. That’s not an older, wiser me talking either. I remember wanting to hurt an already hurt kid. So that’s what I did. Sometimes it feels good to do the worst thing possible.

I dropped the rock and walked out to the bus loop, where my Dad would be waiting to pick me up. No one had seen any of this. I knew for my next cast I’d ask him to draw someone much darker.

Holiday

By Marisa Wegrzyn

Vacation is a great time to be murdered by the ocean. I was nine years old on a beach in St Maarten, leniently supervised by Norwegian Cruise Line employees who took the youth group on a shore excursion to the beach. About 30 kids enjoying some afternoon beach time away from Mom and Dad, who were back on the ship getting blitzed on daiquiris. The lot of us kids, slathered in SPF 30, waded ass-deep into the ocean on a postcard perfect afternoon. The adventurous ones lured the timid ones deeper. My sisters stuck together, and I swam off on my own, never one to socialize with peers.

There was a a distant swell in the ocean. It turned into a monster swell. That monster swell turned into the biggest goddamn wave I had ever seen. I was too far out to get back to the beach. I wasn’t going to escape the rolling monolith. Knowing what I knew about the ocean (very little) I panicked, held my breath, and the bastard wave took me. I was upside down underwater, then sideways, then upside down again. My skull filled with salt water. My internal organs screamed. I couldn’t breathe. I was dying. I was dead.

And then the ocean deposited my coughing, sputtering body on the beach, a beach now littered with other little coughing, sputtering bodies, like the aftermath of the Invasion of Normandy as reenacted by nine-year-olds.

I would like to say that was the end, but my adult nightmares involve inescapable, giant waves. Sometimes I wake before I’m underwater. Sometimes the wave takes me, and there’s nothing I can do.

Only in Dreams

By Sam Willett

I was a little late to learning about the more aggressive things in life, things that unnervingly shred a heart to valves and values. I was introduced to the process during my sophomore year of college, where everything was compartmentalized outside of who I actually was. I never dated, but when I finally did, foolish investment and distrust broke my faith. My social circles were drowned in abuse and fucking gimmicks. I heavily invested my trust in efforts to reach some positive outcome, but there was only empty hope and time. As a result, I was intimated and violated by the investments of love. Instant satisfaction was easy, causing me to forget how to dream and finding gratification. What a fantasy.

Exhale carbon dioxide.

After much frustration, I journeyed into summer disaffiliated from what I knew, aiming to connect with people who fell on similar wavelengths. And it worked. What started in a smokey attic apartment flourished into rapid emotional investment that was addicting and mentally stimulating. Jobs and apartments changed and fell through, but our connection sought out positives and used our imaginations to challenge and think greater.

To continue that, we isolated our friendship, in the best way possible. We road-tripped up to Interlochen, Michigan (the pinky of your MItten), and became lost in overwhelming nature, bound in endless sights atop of sand dunes and cherry republic that stained our teeth and filled our stomachs. Being my friend Eric’s paradise, we had a perfect tour guide that made sure we covered as much as one day could handle. Chloe captured it all with her camera to look back at how bright our smiles really were.

Towards the end of our trip, we settled down, whipped up a simple dinner, and tipped our bottles high in celebration. We weren’t forgetting where we were in our stupor but simply celebrating it. As we did, catchy songs played over the stereo, nothing too deep or sentimental. The empty seconds between tracks captured our best laughs or sliest comments, sometimes making foolishness more gratifying.

What I didn’t realize then, though, was the stereo’s role as a diary, locking memories and nostalgia in those small fractions. That transcribable silence expanded as we stepped onto the deck from Eric’s cabin and peered up at the starry sky, something we sorely missed while living in translucent Chicago. After an hour or two, Chloe and Eric stepped inside while Max and I continued conversation, waiting for the new sky to reveal something to us, anything.

Then, we saw dashes of shooting stars, or so we thought. A meteor show cast bright tails across the night sky, and our jaws dropped. Our vocal tones escalated with excitement and conversation grew more intimate and heartfelt naturally. Our eyes never left what was going on, but our conversation traveled beyond that dock, cementing something both of us had waited for. Sometimes, separation from what you know inspires growth waiting to be accessed.

Inhale oxygen.

Jamie

By Kris Lenz

When I decided to call, I was stranded at a gas station outside Asheville with a flat tire, an empty wallet, and a trunk heavy with illicit drugs. We hadn’t spoken in the years since we broke up at the end of sophomore year, but I still had her number on the folded up piece of paper I kept tucked behind my drivers license. In the broad shade of a red maple, my friends were having an impromptu jam session (djembe and acoustic guitar) and improvising lyrics about our broke-down Ford Ranger. I slinked away to the pay phone adjacent to the restroom and in direct defiance of my stomach’s churning unrest, dialed her number.

The night before I had had a dream. We were “camping” in the Smoky Mountains. I use the term camping loosely, meaning we pulled off the road, threw sleeping bags on the ground and tried to sleep. Mornings we woke soaked to the bone, a mixture of dew and the near constant drizzling rain. We ate cans of beans and soup heated in fires made only through the power of a mysteriously flammable goo we bought at a rangers station the night after we learned all wood and potential kindling for miles around shared the same sodden consistency. In these conditions, we tricked ourselves into a state resembling sleep by shotgunning beers, shouting into the darkness until our throats were hoarse, and smoking so much pot our bodies simply shut down after awhile.

The details of the dream were insignificant; what was significant is that she arose whole and dripping from my consciousness and her memory was visited upon me in such a tangible and impactful way that the reality outside Asheville — holding the phone, imagining what to say — was less real than that dream. I’m not proposing some kind of “Inception” scenario, or a Cartesian existential crisis. I’m simply positing that the memory of an emotion, essentially the memory of a memory, can be more powerful and lasting than any physical occurrence. As if the doubling of the evanescent nature of dreams negates that very ephemerality, becoming something concrete. They say smell is the sense most connected to memory. I think memory is the sense most connected to memory.

We had met on a church ski trip some years before. We flirted passively in the back of the church bus (or what passed for flirting for 14-year-olds). As we parted ways late the following Sunday, her best friend passed me a scrap of paper decorated with seven floridly etched digits. The romance that followed was wholly unremarkable. She was a grade older but no more experienced. We were learning to party at the time and made out and got a little high. She wasn’t my first love, my first lover, or even my first girlfriend. Yet without these obvious signposts, she left a deep impact. She was my first experience with the gnawing, irrational jealousy of a significant other’s past: around a lunch table I learned she had given my friend Buck something resembling head months prior. She was my first attempt at sex: condom on, we writhed against each other until the phantom sound of a garage door opening interrupted us, twice. But most importantly, she was my first experience with someone who was unflinchingly sweet and devoted, and yet despite all that, I didn’t give a shit about her, largely ignored her and she eventually walked away.

It was that last bit that lingered in the space between dream and waking life. I wanted to call her, to tell her I appreciated how sweet and true she was to me and that, maybe, we should try again. Years later I was (theoretically) more mature and would therefore treat her right, appreciate her limitless qualities and return that sweetness and loyalty in return.

The phone rang and rang, eventually going to her answering machine. I left a stuttered, generic message, something about seeing how she was doing and hung up quickly.

The next day we finally made it home. I slept for 24 hours straight before waking up to her return call. We exchanged pleasantries and chatted for a bit, but I couldn’t, for the life of me, remember why I had called in the first place.

Mykel and Carli

By Dave Seger

The text message I got from her said something like “I always really appreciated how supportive you are of my artistic pursuits.” I think that’s what she said. Were her words really that well-constructed and awkward? They must’ve been. We’d just split up and our conversations in the month that followed were slow and careful. Long pauses between messages as we thought too hard about our replies.

“Yeah, of course.” It wasn’t bullshit. I was probably her number one fan. I’m the number one fan of a lot of things. It’s fun to enjoy things. Right now I’m the number one fan of this one really awesome Twitter account. The guy only has 637 followers, and I know I have to be his most passionate follower.

It’s important to celebrate the things you like. If someone is making cool art, you gotta cheer them on. Being a boyfriend is pretty much exactly the same as being a “number one fan.”

But this time I was just arrogant about it. Of course I’m your number one fan! Good luck finding a new guy who likes your artistic pursuits as much as I do! Your water colors! Your video collages! I’d never say that, but it’s all that I could think about. I was so resentful. It made me feel like less of a fan.

Because, actually, being a boyfriend and being a fan are different things. I make a really good fan. I make a shitty boyfriend.

Susanne

By Justin Gerber

I was perusing through magazines on the second floor of Downtown Disney’s Virgin Megastore. Work earlier that evening was simply awful. As a hotel clerk near Disney, you discover the answer to whom or what is the worst, and that answer is tourists. I get it now. Most of them save up for years to make their one vacation count. They want to be treated like royalty. But they still act awful.

Awful.

One of my oldest and dearest friends approached me as I was reading through an Uncut or SPIN or something. We talked, exchanging just “what’s up” in our lives, which turned out to be unsurprisingly depressing. A few minutes into catching up, there was an awkward moment of silence. What followed crushed me for the months that followed.

He looks at me, with pity, and says, “I met the guy.”

I don’t have any idea what he’s talking about. “What guy?”

The rest of our conversation is a blur with keywords flying past me: “she’s” “new guy” “visiting” “met” “him” “guy” “guy” “guy.”

I leave the store and drive home in my parents’ white mini-van. I can’t believe she moved on. I was going to figure out what to do with my life, and once I did, I planned to march into wherever she was working or attending class, pick her up, and carry her outside to “Up Where We Belong” Gere-style. But she found someone else. I blew it. I’m crying. There’s no one else! No one is better! I will die alone! It’s a real scene. The Academy Award goes to…

I’d like to appear in the passenger seat of that mini-van and tell young Justin the following:

“Things will get better, though they’ll get worse again. Then they’ll get even worse, but then they’ll get so much better. I don’t think you’d believe me if I told you that you won’t be in your early 20s forever–a collegiate failure, living on a blow-up bed in your brother’s bedroom, no car, working for minimal pay at a stressful job. These negatives won’t disappear overnight or all together, but you will excel. She deserves to be happy, and so do–don’t look at me, dummy! Keep your eyes on the road!”

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