Saturday, July 16, 2011

Variations on a theme

There are two kinds of people in the world. Or a hundred thousand million, math escapes me. But for the sake of argument, let’s say two: Those who play maudlin and heavily orchestrated songs after a bad break-up, and those who – well, come on, there are no others.

Enter Phil Collins. This American Life, my favorite radio show, devoted the hour to break-ups, and this would have probably flown beneath my radar, except someone mentioned a Phil Collins song. Not THE Phil Collins Song.

It’s the mid 1990’s. I'm getting divorced. And I think I weigh about 10 pounds. Because when I’m extremely unhappy, I’ll indulge in every vice except gluttony. A sad me is bad enough; I think a sad and fat me would be more than the universe could bear.

But I'm at work, and feel hungry for the first time in days. So I visit a bank of vending machines. In this room, usually the TV plays soaps to an empty house. This time it's tuned to MTV. Almost on cue, as soon as I punch in the Snicker’s code, this starts to play.

And I think about when I was a kid, with long free arms, out of control and twirling, constantly sweeping fragile objects off the shelf. Breaking things, and wishing to turn back the clock.

I sometimes wonder whether it gives me comfort or pain to know I haven't been heartless, only careless.

That was the second and last time I would ever miss, regret, someone so badly again. The skirt slipped one more inch down my hips. There would be no Snickers today. It was the punt out of Eden and the beginning of a philosophical outlook. Learning to touch living things gently.

Because, while some of us may find true love, all of us at one time or another will surely lose it.

43 comments:

  1. Yes and

    Yes and

    worth it? I don't know. Some people say it is. The pain, maybe. The regrets, I could have skipped.

    I'm a little older than you.

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  3. No, I think http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KZ8PRWChb8

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  4. "Because, while some of us may find true love, all of us at one time or another will surely lose it."

    So so true.

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  5. When I've been dumped I always run to Barry Manilow to get me through. How sick is that.
    V

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  6. you are the master of the micro epic. no one can touch you

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  7. What Pasadena Adjacent said...

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  8. Oooo, I like that! Someone told me recently that my stuff is post-ironic, and I like that, too, even if I don't know what it means.

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  9. Post-ironic: "When one's ironic appreciation of something becomes genuine."

    GG

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  10. So much pain in so few words. PA's micro epic designation sure does capture the essence of this amazing piece. (My biggest breakup was in the 80s so I won't be revealing the embarrassing song that kept me going.)

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  11. Post-ironic optimist:
    "second and last time"
    Hmmm--I'm not convinced we can predict this. Life does tend to side swipe us--

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  12. When I broke up with a lass I used to listen to Dio songs.

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  13. I was struck by the image of the young girl spinning, looking for an altered state of consciousness. We start young and we never stop.

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  14. The carmageddon went well ... well, what a retirement.

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  15. GG, that's interesting territory.

    Des, and that's why you can write mysteries (Human Cargo, by Des Zamorano).

    Katie, I think I'm going to nag you for that song.

    Tony, don't know it. But I like Ron's Dar. (Cover of an old Kinks' tune?)

    Paula, you spun it further.

    And Petrea, wow, I love that version. Like Birdman said, on the upbeat.

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  16. Yes, Kinks tune, but I like the Dar version oh so much better.

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  17. And yes, if you say "Groovy Kind of Love," I'll say, "Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders."

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  18. Lord...after that last line, I'll be eating Snickers all night.

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  19. The only time I've ever been skinny is after break ups. Heartbreak is the world's most terrifying, most effective diet.

    I've got to give props to Pasadena Adjacent, too. She described your writing so well.

    At least you weren't listening to Sinead O'Connor on repeat. That was me. Ugh.

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  20. Since I don't want you to have to nag, here are two of the 80s classics that I listened to constantly on my cassette Walkman after the breakup:

    Thompson Twins

    Howard Jones

    Actually they aren't bad songs. Just bad hair.

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  21. Ok, after that, I'm pouring the beer, passing out Snickers, and we'll send this one out on a high note.

    Bruce

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  22. I always was told the 2 kinds of people in the world were those who get it. And those who don't. Now your 2 are a new variation on this theme.

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  23. The problem is the songs you choose at the time will always, forever have you reliving those moments when you hear them.

    The content from the Phil Collins video won't load "in my area" so I'm only left to wonder which it was...I'm guessing it wasn't Sussudio?

    And yes, P.A. nailed it.

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  24. Karin: Just LOVE Sherry Darlin'. The summer of the bar exam, when I knew little of Bruce, I house sat for a couple who had The River. I wore it out. Sherry Darlin' is one of the songs that made me love the Boss.

    Yes, there are two kinds of people in the world. Let's just leave it at that.

    WV: sayess. Sayess!!

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  25. This one got me through a few bad ones.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMQbzLrvwlE

    (Slay me with this post, why don't you?)

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  26. Classic Karin. But I refuse to click "this."

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  27. Definite home run for PA.

    I'm not sure why, but as you probably know, I have a compulson to pick out best gem in a box of gold. For me this time it was, "It was the punt out of Eden." Also, I might just get "post-ironic." And yes, it fits.

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  28. I’ve no tune for this, only a question:

    Are you still skinny?

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  29. I love that episode.

    First, I love Starlee Kine and her lisp. What an unlikely and yet totally memorable radio voice, right?

    Second, Collins is so terrific, talking about his own divorce, and his motivations.

    Weird how when we're hurting we want to hold onto it as long as we can, and we crave the pain. I think it's about keeping the feeling alive as long as possible, even if it's not joy but anguish.

    Hope you finally ate that Snickers bar. ;-)

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  30. It's funny, with all the other things beyond our power to decide or plan, we don't even get to choose the song.

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  31. What a beautful bit of writing Karin. I sure know what losing that feels like...

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  32. I loved this micro epic. (Good one, PA.) Here's my favorite line: "I sometimes wonder whether it gives me comfort or pain to know I haven't been heartless, only careless." It pulled me in and made me want to know more, much more.

    Here's my 90's break-up song:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n35C0j3LLB0

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  33. I simply love your style...post-ironic or not. It climbs mountains in flip-flops.

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  34. Epic...

    Andrea Boccelli and Laurena McKennet...

    I was going for the high-brow...

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  35. I saw this a while ago and, as is often the case, was interrupted mid way through by the fighting teens. It is a nice piece of writing, but it made me want to cook for you. Stew maybe? Something heavy.

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