you might see his face in the clouds or relaxing in a spirit ditch
* Bad News Hughes, from the diary of indignities, on unrequited love
"I had never really paid any attention to her. She was skinnier than I like 'em, and fucking wore these prepostrous overalls every day. But when I saw her blow a smoke ring out of the gap in her smile that formerly had hosted a tooth, I fell in love with her. A little, anyway.
"She was smart, and she knew it. She was witty, and quick, and she didn't put up with any shit. And she told me she planned to get a diamond-studded gold tooth to fill in that gap. Yeah, it was love.
"Oh, she liked me, I suppose. A stong like. Enough like to call me every day, but not enough to fuck me. I spent plenty of time with her, happy with what I could get. Which meant lots of great conversation, the occasional late-night adventure and a neverending stream of tiny, poignant heartbreaks, the kind that make your Joy Division and George Jones records sound that much sweeter. In this way it was pretty much exactly like the other 412,987 times I've found myself with a similar unrequited crush, and no doubt like all the others would've continued in the same vein until she moved out of town. Or I instigated a total emotional meltdown by trying to yank forth some kind of emotional commitment, or acknowledgement, or something, out of our cozy little limbo.
"But it didn't play out like all the others, not this time.
"We were at a party, standing in front of her apartment building. I was drunk. I was drunk a lot around this time — this all happened during Gin And Tonic Summer, a particularly successful binge undertaken by myself, Scott Adams and Todd Campisi. Gin And Tonic Summer featured plenty of good-natured mayhem involving firecrackers, 4 a.m. games of four-square and, of course, gallons of its namesake. In fact, Gin And Tonic Summer was such a success that it stretched well into winter. Hell, it might still be going on for all I know — go ask Todd.
"Anyway, she had been out of town for a week or two. I was acting a bit aloof, little depth charges of sadness going off in my stomach every time the corner of my eye caught her laughing at some idiot dude's jokes. I think maybe I had just finished throwing a handful of bottle rockets into the mellow backyard bonfire, an immensely satisfying pastime I recommend to everyone.
"I was fixin' to leave, and she sidled up to me and gave me a hug. 'I missed you,' she said. She was unusually subdued.
"'I missed you too,' I said.
"She pulled my head down and whispered in my ear. 'You don't understand,' she said. 'I really missed you. I thought about you every day. I needed to see you.' And she kissed me, softly.
"This is the only time in my life this has happened, where someone I loved but that didn't love me back changed their mind, even a little."
"Later we went up to her room. I kissed her for the first time there, while lying on her bed. She took off her shoes, and took off those damn overalls. She was wearing some kind of weird plastic diaper with a thick elastic waistband. Maybe a Depends? Were there some kind of... Circus animals on it? What the fuck?
"She kept kissing me. I was distracted. Was that really her underwear? Was it some sort of cover that went over her regular underwear? Do those overalls chafe or something? Is it a joke? An affectation? Evidence of some sort of disease? What... The... FUCK?!
"'Don't you want to take your shoes off?' she said.
"'I... I... I think I have to go,' I said.
"She looked surprised. I split.
"The next day Todd called and asked me what had happened. I told him I had left.
"He was surprised too. 'I thought you really liked her, dude,' Todd said.
"'Well... Yeah. Dude, I'm telling you she had on some kind of diaper.' I remembered their slick, plastic texture, and being worried I'd take 'em off and find... Poop.
"'You're fuckin' nuts. She didn't have on a diaper. You should've fucked her.'
"We finished our conversation, and I thought about what Todd said. Had I just thrown away a chance at being with someone I loved? For nothing? For some imaginary diaper? It had seemed so real. Maybe it was a manifestation of my fear of intimacy? And maybe if I really loved her the diaper shouldn't be a big deal. Sincere feelings should overcome a little petty incontinency, shouldn't they? Fuck. I screwed up.
"I needed to find her. I needed to find her, and fix things. Tell her that, whatever was up with that diaper business, we could work it out. She meant too much to me.
"I hopped on my bike and went to the Utility House, a well known punk-rock hangout. She was on the porch, drinking a quart of beer. I sat down next to her and cracked one open myself. The previous night was not acknowledged. People came and went, drinking and smoking and telling stories and laughing.
"Eventually, there was a moment where we were alone. I leaned in and started to whisper an apology in her ear...
"'Ew! Dude! Get off of me!' she shouted. 'What's wrong with you?! Why are you being so gross and romantic?! Have you lost your mind?!'
"Then she sneered, shook her head and took a swig from her beer."
* Art-O-Matic is back
, running tonight until December 5, 2004.
* Interview of The Wrens
drummer Jerry MacDonald. excerpt:
"We were never really part of the scene, he said. 'When we moved to New York and started trying to figure out what we wanted to be there was kind of a sense of neighborhood (there), but there’s just so many thousands of bands and I think what we woke up to was that more of the networks and friendships (we created) were with the bands we ran into on the road. That kind of became the scene, the touring bands on the road. I think that’s still present today, but the scene back in the early ’90s was kind of get out there and play and play and play, and try to get on an indie label, and hopefully you’d get on a big indie. Now things center more on the Internet and getting the word out there. We disappeared for like six years; our only scene was chatrooms. People thought we were going to be another My Bloody Valentine. The scene has become a big broad community now because of the Internet.'
"The Wrens have day jobs now, good ones in fact. Greg is a lawyer, and two others have corporate executive positions. Jerry has a family now. They are not full-time rockers again, yet. Charles is the exception.
"'It’s diametrically opposite of what you’d think,' Jerry said. 'It’s hard because we’re juggling schedules if you had a job you really dug, a professional career, and you also had something resurface that is an amazing outlet that was your dream for most of your life came back in a big way, it’s kind of the best of both worlds. We talk about rockin’ full-time a lot, but we haven’t done it yet. Everyone has been so kind to us; we might as well just have fun with it because you only go around once.'"