(Authors note: I’m going to get in so much trouble for this post.)
So I was going to post a video of a new Delta Spirit song they did at Lollapalooza, but when I was watching that video, I saw that this song was also available…
And this song, Bushwick Blues, is one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite albums of last year, History From Below, by one of my favorite bands to see live. Seriously, these guys rock live.
And there’s a verse/chorus of Bushwick Blues that I’ve always thought applied to me, and more so lately. (By “more so lately” I mean “All the time since this song came out last year”, but whatever. Devils in the details and all that.)
So maybe I’m the fool for feeling used
By the way we kissed that night I though you knew
Because my love is strong
And my heart is weak
A lot of people wonder why I don’t like dating, why I’m single, and why I enjoy being single. “But don’t you want a girlfriend?” a girl asked recently as we laid on the beach discussing our mutually failed dating lives. (By “mutually” I mean “mostly mine.”)
Sure I do. But there’s a lot of shitty people out there who like to break hearts, and after a while of that, you just get to the point where you stop caring.
Let me explain.
While most of my Midwestern (“The Midwest is anything between New York and Los Angeles.”) friends are happily married (or, in some cases, happily divorced) and having awesome and cute little babies, the LA scene kids (er, my friends) are all getting to that point, that point that the rest of the country hits around 25 years of age.
The point of realization of mortality. (Or something like that.)
Recently, a lot of the discussions among friends has centered around relationships, the future, finding someone real, someone you could potentially be with for awhile. Marriage in LA in the under 30 crowd is rare, and as we all tip the scale to 30 we start to see the next ten years ahead of us. None of us know what that holds, none of us know what the next year holds, but we all know there’s at least one signpost ahead, whether we want to face it or not.
“I’m at that age now, you know? I want a boyfriend. I want that.” Was part of that beach discussion, with the frankness and honesty that comes with realizing it’s time to “settle down”, or barring that, at least the realization that we’re all getting too old for this shit. If Mel Gibson is the Los Angeles dating scene, we’re all playing the Danny Glover role.
“Why would I go to that party? I’m not going to date any of those people.” is another thing I’ve been hearing a lot lately. Along with “I’m not going to that show. I don’t want to date punk rock boys.” And “If I go to that party, there will be twenty guys all creeping on the same two single girls, and those girls know it, and they like it, and the only guys who win that night are the ones who wait out the others.”
It’s not Darwins theory, it’s not survival of the fit. It’s “whomever’s left when the party’s over and you don’t want to pass out alone.”
It’s gotten to the point that some people are only going out, and only going out to certain places, if there exists any possibility of finding a date, meeting someone new, meeting someone right. And so these people are sacrificing, wisely perhaps, a night with the usual friends in favor of a night with the cruel expectations and even crueler reality of dating. I’ve never had a night that didn’t happen exactly like the “500 Days Of Summer” Expectation Vs Reality scene.
(Except those nights where things went right, but considering how wrong they went after that, it’s negated.)
And LA is such an incestuous hellhole. “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy” might as well describe the Silver Lake/Echo Park/Los Feliz crowd. Friends don’t want to go to other friends parties because an ex will be there, but we ALL have exes at EVERY party. Heck, some of our closer friends started out as somebody’s ex.
Guys call dibs on girls as soon as they walk in a room. “You can hang out with them, but just respect my dibs.” “He calls dibs on every girl he sees.” “You like her? But he called dibs!” “You made out with the girl he likes? He’s going to be so pissed at you.”
Girls take an interest in the first guy who talks to them but as soon as that guy talks to anyone else they give up or move on to the next. “I think he’s more interested in my roommate.” It’s a feeding frenzy, and girls paint their nails with chum before they get in the water.
So many friends have been struggling with the dating scene pretty heavily of late. They’ve been stressing about it at every turn. It’s gotten to be the only topic of conversation you can count on.
And it’s warranted.
Meeting people in LA is tough. Meeting a good person in LA that you want to date is tougher. LA chews you up and spits you out. “Most of the girls I’ve met out here, most of the girls I’ve dated, at one point in time they were all engaged and about to be married to someone else. And then they came to LA.”
That’s a pretty remarkable, and pretty true, if alarming, statement. People escape to LA for whatever reason (fame, fortune, weather, work, tacos), but they’re all escaping something, and sometimes that something is a bad relationship.
So they come to LA already damaged by love, and all LA does is open that wound, fill it with festering puss, and then put a dirty Band-Aid over it. And that’s the girls (and guys) you meet. Girls and guys butchered by bad romance (ra ra ga ga ga) and destroyed by stress and emotion and emotional stress.
There’s a very perfect chorus in Dawes’ song “Time Spent In Los Angeles”:
but you got that special kind of sadness
you got that tragic set of charms
that only comes from time spent in Los Angeles
makes me wanna wrap you in my arms
And that’s such a terribly true set of words. Because what this town does to people is only understandable by other people in LA, and it absolutely breaks you down and it absolutely makes you want to rescue/save/help anyone else. (There’s nothing better/worse than a damaged girl, but nothing good ever comes from a damaged girl, no matter how hard Hollywood thinks every romantic comedy ever made can preach the falsity that you, yes you, can in fact rescue and save any and every damaged soul out there.)
Sure, some people find that great romance out here. I’ve seen it, and continue to see it. It’s a glorious thing. For some it’s totally easy. I’ve been overjoyed this summer watching friends find one another and date, and be happy, which is so rare. (I don’t want to say this, but, the norm for awhile was watching friends enter and sustain really unhappy relationships simply because they were afraid not to.)
“I understand what makes a woman think that any man is better than nothing. I’ll just never understand what makes a woman think she’s got nothing.” – Jeremy Goodwin, Sports Night
So seeing people in happy relationships? A total plus. Makes you remember that it’s totally possible. And as this year has seen, all of those relationships-for-the-sake-of-staying-together have all ended. Every single one.
Because, again, it’s that time.
So it is easy and right and good for people. Certain people.
But for the rest of us, you either try too hard or you don’t try enough, you either care too little or you stopped caring, you either go through your nights looking for someone to make you happy in the short run or for someone to make you miserable in the long run.
This is a pretty pessimistic post, I know, but it’s not really meant to be. It’s meant to be more of a sign post.
There’s a change I see in my friends this year, a change to not just date and hook up but a desire, even if they’re afraid to admit it, to actually find someone real. I see it in their eyes and hear it in their voice and read it on their tumblrs. None of us are getting younger, even if we’re not really growing up. (“What do you want to do when you grow up?” is STILL something asked by anyone you ever meet here in LA, because A) nobody is doing what they want and B) nobody is growing up.)
“LA is Never-Never land,” a friend says, “a town without seasons where nobody ever grows up.”
Well, it looks like it’s time to get back to London, for some of us. In the proverbial sense, it’s time to grow up. At least, as far as relationships are concerned. But that’s the optimist in me, because it’s still not happening.
Not that I’ve found that girl, not that they necessarily exist. Every time I even think I’ve met someone with whom I could date, it’s quickly and terribly revealed to be a sham. I recently had no less than six people tell me, of a girl I like, “She’s going to break your heart.” That optimistic line was followed by “You should just let it go.” in almost every single conversation.
Because, A) my friends know me and more importantly they know what to expect from any girl I’m interested in, and B) they know what dating in LA is like.
I didn’t let it go. I let it consume me and I got disappointed and heartbroken, even though I was never really in it. I’d like to say I went down swinging, but I think the more accurate analogy is that I stepped up the plate, got a solid hit, but was thrown out at first before I even dropped the bat. And then a pitch caught me in the balls.
And it sucks. And it happens to all of us. And all you can do is get back up there and shoulder the bat.
“Swing away, Merrill.”
Because, at least, someone is still pitching. The balls may suck, and we may strike out more times than we connect, but at least we’re off the bench and at least the games not over.
And I feel like a lot of people are wondering if this is the bottom of the ninth, and are wondering if there’s any reason to keep going. I know some friends are constantly being bogged down by their constant singleness and inability to find the right someone. They’re giving up and lowering standards.
But to those people, I want to correct them. If anything, it’s the seventh inning stretch.
Dating sucks anywhere for everyone, and complaining about it doesn’t do anything to make it less so.
So chin up, folks. I know most of you reading this are probably pissed that I quoted and misquoted you. But it’s time to stretch and get back in the game. We’ve all got a few more good innings left.
And there are more important things in life than dating, and girls, and guys, and sex. It may not seem like it, but trust me, there are.
Besides, the world ends next December, so let’s make the last 15 months of existence worth it.
I’m going to end with a verse from Springsteen’s “Human Touch”, a song I recently became reobsessed with. I think it applies to the topic of this post, and to the people I mentioned, alluded to, quoted and misquoted. It applies to us.
So you’ve been broken and you’ve been hurt
Show me somebody who ain’t
Yeah, I know I ain’t nobody’s bargain
But, hell, a little touchup
and a little paint…