John Cusack plays Rob Gordon in one of my favourite movies, High Fidelity, and as his girlfriend is packing up her things and leaving him, he says:
"What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?"
Blogger goddess Pandora has recently written about how she reckons she's had her heart broken four times in her life. Romantically, not myocardially that is. Each time there's been a song swirling through that still reminds her of the pain and resultant growth and knowledge. Reckless by Aussie Crawl; Nirvana's 'Smells like teen spirit.'
It got me thinking about my own experiences - then again, don't most good blog entries do that?
In terms of real, you're-dumped heartbreak, it was just the one time for me, but in terms of silent crushes that were conducted in total secret and from afar, there were more than I care to remember.
My father was a high school teacher and he once told me that he could tell the girls who were going to have boyfriends or fall pregnant before the year was out. "They're jiggling in their seats, heads swiveling to see what the boys sitting behind them are doing. They're prancing along the edge of the fence at lunchtimes, hoping that the nineteen year old bozos from the meatworks will drive by in their 25 year old bombs and try to pick up a fifteen year old whose ovaries are spinning."
That wasn't me. My role was partly automatically designated: teacher's daughter in the town's only secondary school with family friends who were also teachers meant that I was studious, well behaved and quiet. Boys (or 'guys') were loud, crude and sometimes a bit scary but were also attractive, cutely goofy and objects of longing. However, these yearnings were never acted upon until right at the very end of school.
Before then it was idly doodling their name on a scrap piece of paper at home - never on my pencil case, or diary or toilet door for peers to discover. Never shared or confessed to a friend and never, ever communicated even vaguely to the object of my affection by something as boldly direct as actual conversation, a noticeable glance their way or remotely discernible acknowledgement of their existence.
This paralysingly shy approach meant that I was not only safe from having to risk rejection but also suffered a bit of unintended heartache when I'd find out that the guy I'd sat behind in geography in term two hadn't shown what I'd hoped was a mix of intelligence and mystery but instead had:
- pashed the year nine nympho at a beer-keg party that I was not invited to (and would have been too afraid to attend if I had);
- carved another girl's name on his arm using his protractor and a bic pen in maths;
- set his family's caravan alight when he forgot to switch the electric blanket off;
- earned my older brother's scorn by being 'the worst soccer player in modern history' and unceremoniously kicked off the team;
- been rude to a teacher I particularly liked; or
- asked one of my friends out instead.
Even now, pushing 25-30 years later, the unrequited love songs that still resonate include 'This ole house' by Shakin' Stevens (year eight); 'Dirty Creature' by Split Enz (year nine); 'She blinded me with science' by Thomas Dolby (year ten); and 'Relax' by Frankie Goes to Hollywood in year eleven. Hardly songs to make a slow compilation tape (sorry, playlist) to.
However, as an adult, I only had one real dose of heartache in 1988. Four months of dating (several nights a week) and BW was due overseas for work for three months. We'd been out to dinner, the casino, sailing at North Haven, on his motorbike and even painting his just-purchased house (he was an older man ...... by five years!) and he always seemed pretty keen to see me.
The week before he was due to leave, we had dinner at my place and he said that he'd enjoyed our time together but wasn't looking for anything serious and didn't want to see me on his return. It had been fun, but he didn't want to worry about 'anything happening' whilst he was out of the country but wished me a happy Christmas and was sure that my uni results would be good ones.
I'd been expecting a declaration of long term commitment and maybe even an early silly season present and was bereft. Sad yes, but also a bit humiliated, in hindsight. My flatmates Jo and Fiona decided to take me out to dinner the following day to cheer me up but it ended up with me sobbing over a toasted asparagus doorstop sandwich at the Left Bank Cafe in full view of frankly over-curious shoppers and grannies.
And in keeping with the sad soundtrack of my school years, the stupid song that was on high rotation at the time.....?
Bloody KOKOMO by the Beach boys!