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Top Five Break-Ups

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Top Five Break-Ups

I spend so much time culling, paying homage to, imitating, alluding to, referencing, etc., High Fidelity, I figured it was time I outright stole from it.

High Fidelity is one of those very rare times when the movie is better than the book. And this is no knock on the Nick Hornby novel.  Which is damn good. The movie, however, is fucking great, a study in the power of restraint, proving that it's the notes you don't play that makes the real difference.  When you read the book and compare it with the film, you see the choices director Stephen Frears made regarding what to leave out, how to take 300 pages and make it into (roughly) the best 90 minutes possible, and you can't help but be impressed by his (as the kids say) mad editing skills.  He left a lot of good jokes on the cutting room floor, I'm sure.  But what he left though, as a whole, in my humble estimation, is virtually flawless, a perfectly crafted expose on the subjects of growing up, girls, and rock 'n' roll, three of my favorite things (most of the time).

When I was going through my second divorce, I must've watched that movie 50 times.  It became like a mantra, a new Breakfast Club, a movie my brother Josh and I saw so many times when we were kids, we could quote every line of it, from start to finish.

The divorce probably played a perverse part in how much satisfaction I garnered from watching High Fidelity, like listening to the sad songs after she's gone; it made me feel somehow less...lonely.  But everyone should see it, even if they're not getting divorced.  Because it's such a brilliant film.  It's so funny, and violent, and the soundtrack kicks ass...

Sorry.  This is about my personal humiliation.  Not my ability to steal, word for word, from movies and pass it off as my own.

So without waiting any longer, my Desert Island, All-Time, Top Five, Most Memorable Break-ups (in Chronological Order) are as follows...

1. Tracy B.
2. Amy K.
3. Julie
4. Hadley
5. Marla

(Do you see your name on this list, [insert ex-wife's name here]?  You could maybe sneak into the Top Ten.  But, I'm sorry, there's just no room for you in the Top Five.  It's reserved for the type of heartbreak you're just not capable of... Sorry, I should stop doing that.  It's mean.  I found out a little while ago that my ex-wife reads this damn thing, which is about the funniest shit I ever heard. I really don't harbor any will toward her.  She's just funny to use as, y'know, a punchline.  Not much else you're getting from a marriage that lasts six months. [But, really, (insert ex-wife's name here), you should stop reading this.  Ain't nothing I say is going to make you feel good...]).

I've decided to change names, or at the very least stop using last names.  Even though it's pointless since everyone knows damn well who most of these girls are (and even if they didn't, I will no doubt post a link to an old blog post in which I give her full name, which I won't go back to change, not out of any artistic principle, but because I am too fucking lazy).

1. Tracy B.  

It's hard to classify this as a "break-up" since we never actually dated.  And don't I mean as in "technically."  Didn't come close to dating.  No walks by the pond holding hands.  No love love letters.  No first slow dances in the Berlin High gymnasium (Melissa Cote, where have you gone [sigh]...).  We threw some snowballs at cars when we were 10, and once we went to the Berlin Fair together ( when I was 12.  My "relationship" with Tracy didn't even last six hours (not for two hours, neither before or after The Rockford Files, for 3 days in a row).  And there was no Kevin Bannister (there was this guy named, I think, Darnell, later on in high school, and I guaranfuckingtee you he's bald by now, but he didn't steal her, because by then I was firmly entrenched in the art room with the ugly kids, and Tracy had risen to the ranks of the ridiculously popular).  It would be nice to think times have changed, skin's thicker...but like Allison Ashmore, there has been an element of the heartbreak I felt over Tracy my whole goddamn life. She was the first girl to truly break my heart. I don't think she ever knew it (well, she does now, dipshit). I remember seeing her in school and wanting to say the right thing, but even then I was so riddled with insecurity, knew something wasn't right inside me, the black dog and darkness taking over; I felt like there was a spotlight on my every move, and the world was just waiting for me to say or do the wrong thing so it could pounce on me... Of course, the world wasn't thinking about me any more than Tracy was thinking about me.  But I'd still sweat and smell like Good Seasons salad dressing (, acting self conscious as hell.  She was just a girl  I could've probably asked out when I was 12, but instead I kept all that love inside, the poetry I wrote for her a secret, so that any time I did see her, I mostly stared at her shoes, smelled like salad dressing, and mumbled incoherently.  Like a kid who kept a box of pet worms and ate Play Doh. Fucking weirdo.  No wonder I didn't have a date to prom.

2.) Amy K.

If you want to know Amy's last name, you only need look at my song catalogue, which contains, last I checked, 412 songs written about her (including, but certainly not limited to, "The Last Song about Amy Krois, Pt. I").  But like Tracy, I didn't really date Amy either.  I had had actual girlfriends by the time I met Amy in college but no one I loved like her.  Jesus, I was crazy about her.  And at this point, you can probably note a certain obsessive theme emerging, and nothing--and I mean fucking nothing--scares off a girl like desperation.  And, oh, my brother, was I desperate. You could smell it on me the second I walked in a room (if you could distinguish it from the Good Seasons fragrance), frantically searching whatever I thought I could save me from myself at that particular moment.  I let nothing come to me, skin too tight, unable to relax.  I chased it hard.  So even when a girl did like me, like Amy did, very much at one point, I suffocated the life out of whatever chance we may've had.  But it all worked out in the end.  I got songs to write about.  I hear she married a bald dude and lives in China.  Win-win.

3.)  Julie

Julie and I actually did date (  We moved to San Francisco together.  And it was like a Tom Waits song.  We drank.  We fucked. We fought.  She'd cheat on me, and I'd get fucked up and throw all her clothes out into the street. Then we'd make up and fuck and one of us would move back in. Then I'd say I was moving to New Mexico, pack up everything I owned into my little red hatchback, and hit the open road and buy like, 18, cartons of cigarettes at an Indian Reservation in Arizona (American Spirits, of course), and chain smoke and meet weird dudes in motels and spend all night on speed in the dessert, conversing with cacti, and then when I'd come down, I'd go back to San Francisco, swearing I'd never see her again, only to end up at her place that night.  And for many many years after we broke up for good, through all the nasty exchanges and polite dinners, the lanes and the miles that separated us, I never really acknowledged just how much she'd meant to me, because it hurt too damn much.  I'd been young and wild and full of it, and I'm not any of those things anymore.  And it's only been recently that I've come to terms with the hole she left in my heart.  Because I loved her very much.

4.)  Hadley

Don't really need a last name for Hadley.  Everyone who knows me, knows about Hadley  And if you don't, you can read my memoir.  Though not published in book format (yet), you can find various selections scattered across the Internet (just look at the right hand side of my blog).  They say a man gets married a second time because he loved his first wife, and a woman gets married a second time because she hated her first husband.  I loved my first wife very much.  But we were young, and I had that drug problem, and she was...afflicted...and we were pretty much doomed from the start.  There's nothing I can write here any better than I wrote about her in my memoir.  I'm happy to send you a copy (or you can hunt down Big John on the streets of San Francisco.  I hear he's still passing them out...)

5.) Marla

This was a weird one.  She was the first girl I dated after the second divorce. And for most of that time, I took her for granted, didn't see much of a future for us.  She was pretty, I liked her enough, but we didn't seem to have a whole lot in common, and now freed from the shackles of a terrible mistake, I wasn't looking to jump back into another one.  Plus, I lived in Miami.  She lived in Berkeley. I met her through my buddy, Rich, while I was visiting SF.  She was a friend of his ex-wife.  We carried on this long-distance thing for a few months, and for most of it I was still getting over my (second) ex-wife.  Which is what makes this so damn odd, a wound that lingered long past unexpected.  Because that second ex-wife, once the initial hurt passed, faded from my memory.  It was like a bandaid over a scab.  One quick pull, a little skin ripped off, some blood, a scream.  Then it heals.  Marla?  She was a slow, dull ache, a motorcycle accident cutting the story mid-sentenc...

That's it.  Not terribly funny stuff, I know.  And now let me do a little damage control.  Because my current wife, the lovely Justine, reads all these posts.  And though I tell her (over and over again) that I love her most of all, Justine still gets a little emotional reading about my past loves, and understandably so. Can't say I'd be anxious to read about all of her heartbreaks and questions of what might've been.  But what my lovely wife needs to understand is this: I'M A MUTHERFUCKING WRITER.  This is what I do.  Mine the depths of personal humiliation and put it on public display.  Because my heart is a black, gaping hole of need.  And one love can never be enough.  I need you all to love me. More, more, more, more.  Plus, I want the hits.  I write, "And then I lived happily ever after in my big house, with my adorable son and loving wife, and it's all puppy dogs, sunshine, and (double rainbows)," I'd get less hits than Aunt Betty's Blog of Homemade Jams.

Now let's close with some delightful outtakes from a terrific, terrific film.

Who needs a drink?

Yeah, that about does it.

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