Charm you and tell you
Of the boys I hate
All the girls I hate
All the words I hate
All the clothes I hate
How I’ll never be anything I hate
You smile, mention something that you like
How you’d have a happy life
If you did the things you like
I listened to Franz Ferdinand’s, “Dark of the Matinee,” yesterday for the first time in something like five years. It brings me back to a lot of closing shifts on warm summer nights in Shelburne Falls. I remember mopping and laughing with old friends while this album played in the background. At that point in my life, I was still posting lyrics that suited my mood to my AOL Instant Messenger profile. My away messages reflected the same.
I was seeing someone at the time. Let’s just go ahead and call him, “John.” John was cynical and jaded and aggressive in his criticism. He knew what he liked and was at least as certain of the things he disliked. It was never that he merely disagreed and never that he was indifferent. He was never on the fence. There was never an instance of him simply not caring for something. John loathed things. He found them disgusting and despicable. People, politics, ideas, books, and songs all came under fire with equal vigor. I loved him deeply. These lyrics spent many days on my away message as an affectionate reference to him and his unwavering opinions and condemnations.
I have never been a stupid girl. I’m too curious; too interested. I was never seduced by John. But there is something absolutely irresistible about being the object of someone’s affection when that someone seems to love nothing. He was well-read and smart. Not only were his ideas organic and sure, but they were new and fascinating to me. He introduced me to new music and I found that although he was arrogant, it was in the same vein as my own arrogance. I was swallowed up in my love for him.
I granted John the right to act bored among my group of friends and I attended family events alone, despite repeated invitations and his admitted availability. He didn’t like the company I kept, and while he supported me spending time with my friends, it was a rare day that he would join. When he told me of his hatred of family events, I thought he was onto something. We both come from broken families. Maybe John had found freedom from some archaic ritual to which I was still woefully attached. People asked me questions and criticized his absence. I joked about engineers and defended his choice despite my own disappointment. I was the ambassador of his furrowed brow and sullen lips.
Eventually I forgot about Franz Ferdinand. John hated them anyway. I moved away, as did most of my friends. I spent my days working or seeing my boyfriend. I felt so lonely and stagnant at times that in retrospect I can see that it bordered on despair. I had entered a phase of depression that turned out to last for months. I was uninspired and hateful. John and I broke up one, two, three, five hundred times. He told me I was miserable and sometimes he felt like it was his fault. I told him I was just a miserable person. I felt the way I had in middle school: I was unhappy because I was enlightened. It’s both wildly arrogant and depressingly passive, and in this, it seems to breed the right to idleness. I accepted disliking everything and feeling as though I had no friends. The only pleasure I sought in my life was in the company of John. We drove each other crazy. I was sure we were soul mates.
Things are different now. There has been a great deal of things that led to the change, but I tend to think that a trip to Israel cured me. I chose to do something selfish and it resulted in one of the richest and most pleasurable experiences I’ve ever had.
I heard, “Dark of the Matinee,” yesterday. John still fills the role of the first person when I hear it. However, the meaning has changed slightly. I’m no longer the girl who can be charmed by an extensive list of things that a boy hates. I’m not an airhead who’s going to respond with a giggle and a wistful sigh. I do not let my attitude imply that doing enjoyable things is somehow unattainable but, wouldn’t it be nice? I am someone who does things. And I do things for the mere enjoyment of them. I work almost entirely so that I am able to do the things in which I take pleasure. I don’t have the time or energy or tolerance to indulge someone’s unproductive negative bullshit. Grow up! It is unbelievably unattractive. I really believe that it’s an outright refusal to be happy or content or to find something rewarding and enjoyable. Having been with someone like this for years, I can tell you that any denial of that is either ignorance or a straight lie. Thank you, Franz Ferdinand, for reminding me of how far I’ve come.