They used to call me the bard of bitterness, denial, and regret. Well… it was kind of a one-liner I made up to put on my show flyers. But… you know.
I think I mentioned sometime last year that a girl I’d once dated, early in our relationship, asked me to sing her a love song. “I don’t mean you have to sing it to me,” she said. “That would seem a bit presumptious, I think.” College girls…
“Just sing me something romantic and I’ll pretend it’s about me.” And she laughed.
I had my songbooks right there — I’m almost completely incapable of performing any of my songs from memory (crazy as that might seem considering most of them have no more than 3 or 4 chords spread over 3 or 4 quatrains) — so I started flipping through them, giving one line descriptions of each song as I flipped by…
“Drug overdose song. Betrayal song. Threw-it-all-away song. Another betrayal song. Fare-thee-well-and-flog-off song. Another threw-it-all-away song…
“Ah, here it is, my love song: ‘I Must Be F—— Nuts.’ I knew I had one.”
(It’s a good one but I’ve yet to figure out how to do it justice in this blog. It’s… well… it’s a bit vulgar. But it is a love song.)
Anyhow, those who’ve been following this blog will probably have already guessed that there were a lot of threw-it-all-away songs in those books. It’s like, oh, you know, a recurring theme, I guess. Though anyone with access to a DSM might come up with a less charitable characterization.
I’m not really sure why I like this one so much… except maybe that I crack myself up every time I sing the line quoted in the title of this post. I’m certainly not the libertine the line would suggest but there’s still some kind of poetic truth there, nonetheless.
He was never any good at reading her. He never felt like he knew what she was thinking.
He was drinking, once, with the guy she had gone out with before him.
“Most people,” that guy had said with drunken conviction, “have a mask they hide behind. And when you get to know them, they let it down a little and you start to see what’s there. With her,” and his eyes glinted a little in the dim bar as he paused, shot glass in hand, for effect, “with her, it’s just one mask after another. At first, you think, ah, a mystery. I love a mystery.”
The ex-boyfriend threw back the tequila and went on. “But the mystery becomes like a bad surrealism movie… there’s no…” His eyes seemed to unfocus for a moment. “There’s no coherency. A true sociopath would…” he stopped suddenly.
“I’m sorry, man. I must be drunk. I was just talkin’ shit. I mean, well, she is a piece of work, and we both know that… but she is a real double E-ticket ride. If you want the thrills, you gotta stand in line. Oh, wait. God, I’m drunk. Let’s have another round…”
He woke up in a motel in Yuma looking at a cockroach.
He couldn’t remember exactly how he got there but he was pretty sure he didn’t have a truck, anymore. He fumbled on the bedstand under the imperious gaze of the cockroach, finally gripping his keys. Sure enough, the key to the Chevy was gone.
It all started when he didn’t come home from the bar one Friday night to the little garage apartment he’d shared with her since high school.
It wasn’t that he didn’t love her or think she loved him. He knew she did. He’d never doubted it until the moment he realized it was only that love that was holding her to him — that a sensible woman would have dumped his dark, driven, compulsively drunk ass long before.
That realization broke him like a twig.
He was drinking alone at the bar and thinking. And it just hit him and he knew what he had to do. He had to leave.
She would find someone new, someone who would be better for her. And he’d be free to go to hell, which is basically what he felt like he had to do.
It was a win-lose situation, but as long as she was doing most of the winning and he was doing most of the losing, it seemed right.