Monday, April 21, 2008

Even When I Was 17 / Even When I Was 12

I made a the perfect playlist tonight for all of the things I needed to do: clean the bathroom, make a sandwich for work tomorrow, eat a really good tomato with hummus I bought on sale, and read my book on fundamentalist Mormons. Like every playlist I make, the Scrubbing The Toilet Slicing Avocados Dripping Tomato On My Shirt Joseph Smith Was Weird playlist consists of one song ("Fuck and Run," Liz Phair).

I was thinking about this the other day when I was walking up towards Union Square from work, listening to another single song over and over ("Lucky Guy," the Muffs). The way I listen to music is psychologically disordered. People don't listen to one single song for days on end, regardless of its empirical quality ("Adoptduction," Les Savy Fav) or cheesiness ("Misery Business," Paramore, you shut up). I never even set my iPod to repeat on its own. If I want to listen to "You're Black and Blue" by Exploding Hearts twenty or so times on the F, which I frequently do depending on a complex equation of mood, outfit, weather, and day of the week, I will skip to the beginning of the track every time.

Not every song is right for every day, and some are blatantly wrong. Hearing anything but the song I've determined is THE song must be what it feels like for a cat when you pet its fur in the wrong direction.

Okay, so, anyway, I'm walking up to Union Square, repeating the Muffs, repeating the Muffs, repeating the Muffs, repeating the one song I know by the Muffs that's not that "Kids in America" cover they did, repeating the Muffs, and then I realized that this is exactly the way I deal with people. It was such an epiphany. Enough that I think I actually said "Whoa!" out loud, over my headphones, which were still repeating the Muffs way loud.

I am not good at meeting new people and I am not good at meeting new bands, because in both cases the prospect of all that stuff I don't know that I have to figure out makes my stomach hurt. But. Say you are a stranger (or worse, an acquaintance I am obligated to say hi to but have zero actual relationship with, which I swear makes me more uncomfortable than a subway masturbator) and we're at some crappy bar and waiting to get beer kind of near each other and some douche is wearing very tight pants and his butt crack is hanging out a little. Now imagine we both notice this and maybe you say something to me about it and we laugh about it, and then kind of say hi the rest of the night when we pass each other on the way to the bathroom. And then maybe we see each other on the street a few nights later and I'm all like, hey, well, at least my butt crack isn't hanging out, and then you make some gross joke about smoking crack, and then I say something about getting up at the crack of dawn.

That is the Muffs. I am comfortable enough with the Muffs to harp on the one thing we have in common, which right now is "Lucky Guy." I have approximately two billion songs and people in my life that are at that level.

Okay, but then say you actually know a bunch of my friends, which is so weird, I thought you were some stranger. Consequently we end up hanging out at another party and I'm more than a little concerned because I'm fresh out of crack jokes. But, thank god, you say something in passing about how much you can't stand Beyonce because you think she's probably extremely judgmental in real life. Me too! I say, and there, we have something else to talk about. From there we have the whole of pop culture to talk about, which is comfortable, though not particularly probing. But at least I'm starting to get you. Maybe we don't agree about everything (I like Penelope Cruz a LOT for no reason, you think she's creepy), but we've had a conversation.

That is the Walkmen, the Ramones, the Pixes, and the New Pornographers. I've got more of a relationship with them than one song, but I wouldn't invite them to my birthday party.

Then there are those bands, those people you call when you're weepy about boys, or when you're walking down the street and need something familiar, or when you're doing your laundry and need to hear something that's like a conversation. Those bands, those people: those are friends. You know how they go.

This is the peril of dropping out of Psychology of Personality two weeks into the course. My personal therapy is makeshift and insane.

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