Monday, March 5, 2012
BLUNDERBUSSED: Jar Jar Binks, Jack White and the Interruption of Modern Love
Happy Monday People --
After a busy weekend, I enjoyed a lazy Sunday where I wrote the beginning of the following blog post. I’ve been rather emotionally constipated lately. (Stop screaming “TMI” – I said emotionally, not physically!) The last couple of weeks have been difficult. I’ve been sitting on top of my Pandora’s box of emotions, scared that if I stopped to give my emotions voice that I would never stop screaming.
So I’ve kept my mouth shut. Haven’t allowed my emotions to tell tales needed to be said. And as a result, I’ve felt more and more agitated. I started writing Sunday, but then clamped the box down tight again. Too much to feel. Too much to think. Just too much.
But I knew I couldn’t keep the box shut forever, so here I go, Monday evening – trying to finish Sunday’s starter. Hopefully I can let the banshees wail and get what they need to say off my chest, so I can move on. Where is the colon hydrotherapy for my soul? Oh wait, I guess this is it.
SUNDAY: It is crazy gusty here in Tampa Bay - high winds and the melee that ensues with it. I'm staring at the water and trees being whipped into a cold frenzy as the cruise ships are boarding in the distance. There's something detached, icy and muted about watching chaos without it affecting you personally. The trees dance a schizophrenic marimba. I can see it all – the wind, the trees, the swirling sturm und drang, but I can't feel a thing.
I have Jack White songs playing in my home office. Jack White is one of my favorite musicians. His talent is gobsmacking. Did you catch his wonderful performance on NBC's "Saturday Night Live"? I'm not going to waste my breath making any comment on SNL host Lindsay Lohan's flat cue-carding reading performance though.
I highly recommend you watch Jack White and Third Man Records' appearances on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" (Check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. Plus don't miss the behind the scenes, delicious trash talking in the Stephen Colbert vs. Jack White "Catholic Throwdown" here.). Talented and intense, but also not afraid to be in on a joke; Jack White is a powerhouse. I have watched these clips more times than I care to admit and I still crack up watching them.
My lazy Sunday soundtrack is focused heavily on Jack White's "300 MPH Torrential Outpour Blues" (by Jack White when he was in "The White Stripes") and Jack White's latest single "Love Interruption." The opening notes of "Love Interruption" are whiskey over ice to my heart. It is smooth, mellow and just aching to leave a trail of blisters down my throat. I can't wait for Third Man Records' April 23, 2012 release of Jack White's solo debut record "Blunderbuss." If the remaining songs on the album are anywhere near as good as "Love Interruption," I will be one very happy camper.
The title of the album is "Blunderbuss." A blunderbuss is a "muzzle loading firearm." Not really sure what that means and all. I get that a muzzle is the end of the barrel of a gun, but when I hear "muzzle loading firearm" I instead think of muzzle as "muzzled." As in - keeping someone from talking and expressing the messages from their heart and soul.
So "muzzle" combined with "firearm" to me, makes me think of pushing someone down, shutting their mouth so many times until they explode with words and feelings like a hot piece of lead shooting out of a gun. Perhaps we need a new definition - "Blunderbussed." (Copyright Lily On the Lam, People!)
I've been keeping my emotions blunderbussed lately. Sometimes you need to keep the "off" switch latched hard just to get yourself through the day. I don’t have time for deep soul introspection! I have friggin’ work deadlines. The older I get, the more pointless the banalities of corporate life seem to be. (But I loves me my pay check and all the gorgeous material things it can buy! THINGS! GORGEOUS LITTLE THINGS!)
A couple weeks ago, I started writing about the gut-wrenching, heart-breaking demise of my relationship with the lovely Bad Ass Bandit – the man whose sexy, defined chest makes me drool. In my rough draft, I was comparing the end of my relationship with the metaphors in the Charlotte Perkins Gilman story “The Yellow Wallpaper” (originally published in 1899).
Yeah, yeah, I know – comparing the end of my relationship to a short story written about the mistreatment of women with mental health issues in Victorian society? Who do you think you are, Lily On The Lam? Pretentious much? Over-indulgent much? Missing your Honors English high school class much?
One of my undergrad degrees is in English … and to be open, honest and frank - I can’t help it, my inner literary nerd likes to sing every now and again.
I started writing the searing details of my latest relationship imploding, but I couldn’t finish it. Everything was too raw, too fresh, too painful … I am going to need some time before I can write about the specifics about the end. But ohhhh, it will be good – the metaphors are insane in that piece. Trust me on that one!
Until I finish writing that particular blog post, saying all I need to say about the downfall of something I once had so much hope for; I find that I am in desperate need to give my inner banshees a soap box to stand upon. Perhaps a crystal-encrusted microphone too. Apparently, my inner banshees think they are Christina Aquilera.
When I was a freshman at a major Midwestern university, my next door neighbor in the dorm told me that her mother had attended middle school with actor Harrison Ford. Or as I like to refer to him – Han Solo from “Star Wars.”
My neighbor, in a “ha ha, what a ridiculous loser” sneer that she had clearly adopted from her mother, told me: “My mother says Harrison Ford was a big A/V nerd in school.”
I stared at her for a moment and then said: “Your mother sounds bitter that she didn’t bag Harrison Ford before he became famous.” My neighbor made a goldfish pucker face and then changed the subject.
When I was growing up, Harrison Ford was “IT.” Yep, capital I, capital T, IT. As a child, I’d watch “Return of the Jedi” over and over again. FYI – I have been told by numerous people that this admission makes me a colossal geek. It’s cool to say I saw “Star Wars” a zillion times. Apparently, even cooler to say I saw “Empire Strikes Back” a gazillion times. But saying that I saw the EWOK-infested “Return of the Jedi” more times than any other movie in the history of movie watching is supposedly “uncool.”
Oh yeah? Well Harrison Ford was allegedly an A/V nerd and look at him now! So quit trying to label me, people! (I’m seriously cool! Even if only in my own head!)
When I met The Bad-Ass Bandit (of afore-mentioned, incredibly sexy chest fame), I was completely blown away. Devastatingly smart, sexy, kind, sweet and above all else, a great communicator with a seemingly open soul … ahhhhhh, it was like he had a glowing nimbus around him and a chorus of angels was singing.
(And what was the chorus of angels singing? They were probably humming some sort of bah-chicka-wah-wah porn tune because I wanted to jump on that sweet, sexy man from the very first moment I laid eyes on him. That feeling never went away throughout the relationship.)
Bad-Ass Bandit was the Harrison Ford/Han Solo of the Star Wars story of my heart. I’m not going to say I was Princess Leia – gold bikinis look a little brassy against my olive skin – but I was as enamored as she was. And by enamored, I mean “over the moon, over the stars, head over heels in love.”
The relationship progressed as follows – it was good. It was very good. It was mind-blowing. It was beyond belief wonderful. It was amazing to the millionth degree. And then … It was a little less wonderful. It slowly started losing steam – so slow that I tried to pretend to myself that it was not happening. Like sitting on an air mattress with a slow leak, I desperately tried to convince myself that nothing was changing. That my world was still as inflated with love, hope and promise as it was before. But eventually, I couldn’t ignore the slow hiss as I sank lower. Then the relationship was just OK. Then it was not OK. Then it was sucky. Then it was sh*tty.
Then it was over.
I went from idolizing this dashing, cocky, strong, amazing Han Solo-type to watching him morph into Jar Jar Binks. Even if you are unfamiliar with the 4th Star Wars movie, I think you can guess that anyone named “Jar Jar Binks” is not going to be the hero/Prince Charming of the love story of your life.
Instead of every word, every sentiment, every touch uplifting me to a state of emotional ecstasy, I now saw Bad Ass Bandit exactly as I see the Star Wars’ character of Jar Jar Binks. Annoying, offensive and for some unknown reason I am filled with murderous rage every time he talks. My heart was sick at the transformation. I can’t even tell you how strongly I was taken in by The Bad Ass Bandit. We used to joke about guys who use the “We Zone” to fake intimacy with women. When you first meet a woman, you keep referring to long-term future plans with her to lull her into the belief that you intend to be in a long-term relationship with her.
“WE need to get season tickets to the theater!”
“WE are going to have such a good time going to my parents’ house next summer.”
“Thanks for coming to my tetanus shot with me – where should WE have lunch in 10 years when I need to get my next vaccination?”
All these “WE” statements are designed to make you think that you have a future with the person making the statements. Instead of slowly developing intimacy as you get to know the person, you artificially feel like you’re already in a relationship with this person. Walls and defenses get dropped sooner. And hence the con begins.
Usually the motive of applying the “We Zone” technique is to get you to drop your guard and quickly then get into your pants. Then even more quickly leave you. No relationship. No future. You’re just left wondering—“But what about WE?” (See my blog post on "Baby Huey" for more info on “The We Zone.”)
The Bad Ass Bandit always talked about our future plans … and the future always contained “We” – him and I. He knew of my writing about the “We Zone” on my blog and he’d specifically state that he was not a “We Zone” person. That his statements about our future together, were always from the heart and something we would definitely achieve.
Little did I know, The Bad Ass Bandit was the biggest “We Zone” player of them all. His constant reassurance that we were not in the “We Zone,” that it was all honest and sincere must be some new level of the “We Zone.” Perhaps “We Millenia”? “We Topia”? “We Zone- Platinum Level”? “We Zone Players Club – Diamond VIP Level?” I’m sure one of those names is accurate and I probably could get airline frequent flier miles for visiting it as well.
Words are great, but I prefer action. Bad Ass Bandit was able to “walk the talk” for many months before the charade came crumbling down upon him. The sad part was, I didn’t realize it was a charade until it was too late. Then I was just left to stand there watching the animated alien offensiveness of Jar Jar Binks. Bad Ass Bandit was flailing his hands and giving some lame ass rationalization excuses about why we needed to end our relationship. I was only half-listening, because I kept craning my neck searching and wondering where Han Solo went.
I was in shock for a good two weeks. Bad Ass Bandit and I had been so close. Several times a day whenever something funny or strange would happen, I’d jump on my computer or my iPhone to email him to tell him about it … and then I’d remember that that avenue had been closed. How do you go from talking to someone 10-20 times a day down to zero? I didn’t know what to do with myself. I couldn’t get my brain to comprehend what was going on. I, with Bad Ass Bandit’s frequent trips to the “We Zone – ultra deluxe version,” had painted this wonderful tableau of what our future would be together. Now I was left with my tattered picture of what I thought our life was going to be. It was like holding a coupon and being told that it expired. “But nooo … I want my $3 off this laundry detergent. Why would I buy it, if I wasn’t going to get my $3 off? Come on … can’t you just redeem it?”
Evidently, I was going to be paying full price for my laundry detergent. And even more evident, I was not going to have Bad Ass Bandit in my life any more. He was ripped out so quickly; all I could see was the smoking hole gaping from the tapestry of my life. A friend, who didn’t know we had broken up, sent me a picture of Bad Ass Bandit and I from a recent party. It’s a really good picture. I usually look extremely goofy in pictures, but man this is a really good picture of both of us. I wanted to grab Bad Ass Bandit by the shirt collar and say “BUT LOOK, LOOK AT THIS PICTURE – LOOK HOW HAPPY WE LOOK TOGETHER. WHAT DO YOU MEAN WE’RE BREAKING UP?” Evidently, the picture had expired too. I could not turn it in to redeem “one happy future with a man I love.”
Bad Ass Bandit failed to make any sense. He kept babbling Jar Jar Binks-speak about how he just couldn’t be rational at this time. I didn’t know we got a day pass from being rational. Could I use that line with my Manager? “Sorry, I can’t complete this assignment – I’m just not in a rational headspace. Hey, where’s my bonus and pay check?”
I was numb.
I was in shock.
I couldn’t believe this was happening.
In some weird coincidence, a few hours after Bad Ass Bandit left my home and my life; my phone rang. It was a man I will call Faulkner in homage to Faulkner’s book “The Sound and the Fury.” Although more accurately, I should call him MacBeth – because this man I call Faulkner was the epitome of sound and fury signifying nothing.
From William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of MacBeth:
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.
Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Lord, how I love me some Shakespeare.
Faulkner telephoned me and asked me out for a drink. I swear Faulkner has my home and car wired. Somehow his sixth sense knew I was single again. Sheesh – how did the news get out? I hadn’t told a soul. Could the universe actually hear my heart breaking and did it have a direct link to the Associated Press? I knew I was not in an emotional state that would benefit from copious amounts of alcohol, so I politely declined.
In the week that followed, I discovered that Faulkner was not the only “Sniffer” who had been waiting out my relationship with Bad Ass Bandit. Apparently several gentlemen had been biding their time, sniffing around – waiting for my relationship to end so they could try to get in with me.
On one hand, it was flattering. I kid you not, on that one. When you’ve been dumped on your ass, it’s nice to know that other people think you’re awesome and amazing and have just been waiting, wishing they could be with you.
But on the other hand, it was also super creepy. The thought of people just hanging around, wishing that your love affair would come to a quick and painful end so they can swoop in and offer you a shoulder to cry on? I don’t like to think of anyone waiting in the wings, rooting for me to fail. Rooting for my pain. The realization of this complete creepiness made all the flattery dissipate.
One of the sniffers was former paramour, "Reymundo the Annoying." If you’ve been reading Lily On The Lam for awhile, you may remember blog posts about the hot-cold, commitment-phobic man child that is Reymundo the Annoying. If you're not familiar with this particular stunted individual, check out my award-winning (OK self given/award winning) blog post "PANIC! SHAZAM! I'm going to Guam!"
I will not deny that it was wonderful to see myself viewed through the eyes of Reymundo the Annoying once again. Compliments, affection and an impassioned speech about why I should be back in Reymundo's arms were delivered to me with seemingly sincere intent. I was the moon. I was the stars. I was fabulousness on toast in Reymundo's eyes. I had strayed but now he was ready to take me back, no harm no foul.
But I know Reymundo all too well. He is ruled by his demons and those demons hate commitment. I knew that while good intentioned, Reymundo had not achieved any (and I mean, ANY) maturity or personal growth in my absence. I dropped a few “We Zone” statements and watched Reymundo seize up like a slug that had been thoroughly dusted in salt. He can’t help himself. He wants a bright, rosy future but then he does everything and anything he can to destroy it. What is it within us that makes us our own worst enemies? Shouldn’t we be our own biggest fans?
While I received some temporary comfort from Reymundo's deluded affections; it unfortunately only made me miss The Bad Ass Bandit more. I’m sorry Reymundo, but Bad Ass Bandit is 400 million times the man than you can ever hope to be. Years of psychotherapy will not be enough to unwind the barbed wire nooses you have chained your heart, your brain and your throat with – and I am too old, too tired and too bitter to wait around hoping that you’ll evolve. Thank you for the hollow offer, but it was one I cannot accept.
And then there’s Faulkner … Yes, another sniffer. He has soft lips, warm arms, mad desire and like Reymundo, truckloads of good intentions. Tied to those truckloads is a three ring circus worth of emotional baggage. Like the clown car that keeps ejecting clown after clown after clown with no end, so was Faulkner’s neurosis and baggage. Just when you thought you identified the last bag, another forty tons of emotional baggage falls on your head. No reason to keep counting. It’s never going to end.
I grow weary of having Faulkner tell me over and over what a good guy he is as he stabs people in the back at the same time. Soft lips and warm arms don’t make up for deep, festering back wounds.
I knew that the sniffers were only distractions. If any of them had ever been viable candidates, I would have been with them versus Bad Ass Bandit. I knew that my future love was not lying idle in the remnants of my past. He was somewhere – “out there” – and needed to be found. Like Columbus searching for the New World, I was going to have to pack up some provisions, board a boat, pray the journey would be short and smooth and that I didn’t vomit on a daily basis from seasickness or die of scurvy. The expedition for a new man had to commence. There would be no treasure to be found in the Old World.
There was a painful side effect from the Bad Ass Bandit’s leaving me on my own. In the demise of what I once held to be the most amazing relationship, I now am alone again and I have to go back “out there.” The cold, cruel singles world … a land of freaks, geeks, players, haters and psychopaths. I would have to offer my neck up to the masses and hope none were vampires ready to tear out my throat. In the wake of the break up, I felt completely vulnerable. I felt as if I was about to embark on a hike through a thorn and bramble-covered forest, naked. How exactly was I supposed to come out unscathed? How could I trust? How could I hope? How could I shield myself from being a bitter, old hag?
About ten times a day for the next week, I’d shake my fist at the sky and bark: “Damn you, Bad Ass Bandit – for leaving me! For leaving me and making me go back to the cesspool that is the search for love after age 30!!!” (P.S. I still wonder why I don’t write greeting cards for a living.)
When uber-delicious singer/songwriter Matt Nathanson recently opened for the mighty singer Kelly Clarkson at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida; he talked about how he wrote his song “Modern Love” for a female friend who was sick and tired of the rat race of dating. (Read my blog post about Matt Nathanson here.)
Matt Nathanson’s lyrics for “Modern Love” start with:
“She said this talkin’
Just kinda wears me out
All these salesmen
Baby, make me tired
They’re no good
Tell you the Truth, she said
I’ve been getting used to liars.”
Woof – I wondered how Matt Nathanson knew how to capture the sentiment perfectly. My singles dating life is chock full of salesmen spinning lines and lies. And thanks to the Bad Ass Bandit, I had to get myself back out there again.
Later in the song …
“I let ‘em in
Oh man, I let ‘em win
I burned my house down
Just to hear ‘em scream my name
I’ve carried hope
And heavy daydreams”
Listening to the song, I thought about the shame and regret that I felt about letting people who were not worthy in to my life and my heart. And all the drama in my past relationships. Oh heavens, the drama! The whole analogy of burning your own house down – ruining yourself – just to get someone’s attention. Yikes. Too close for comfort there! I was wondering if Matt Nathanson also had bugged my house and car. I hope he and Faulkner are splitting expenses on the surveillance.
The hardest part of the whole Bad Ass Bandit relationship, for me, was that I had allowed myself to hope. I grew up indoctrinated with the knowledge that there was no one you could ever 100% count on, other than yourself. That people were mean and cruel and unreliable. And to think anything else of them was naïve, foolish and just asking to be kicked in the teeth.
It’s quite hard to be “happy, happy, joy, joy” when you are fed “TRUST NO ONE. EVERYONE WILL HURT YOU” with your Mother’s milk. And as I grew up, I saw time and again where wearing this armor was absolutely a pre-requisite to survival. But with Bad Ass Bandit, I slowly put down the armor of my defense mechanisms and my mistrustful nature. With loving, nurturing coaxing from him, I exposed my soft underbelly of hopes, dreams, feelings and fantasies for the future. I felt normal for a moment. This is what it must be like to trust and to hope. This is what it must be like to know that the future is a warm, safe, happy, inviting place. I was vulnerable, but I also felt open to the world and the possibility of joy and happiness. I had not let myself truly be that open in a very long time.
And then Bad Ass Bandit, took his sword (light saber?), looked at my soft underbelly exposed to him and stabbed it all the way through.
The acidic realization that my hopes and dreams had been placed upon the wrong person came too late. I lay in the ocean of regret, sadness, sorrow and shock that came from my pulsating, emotional wound. Instead of a cowardly back stab, Bad Ass Bandit had looked deep into my eyes, whispered a bunch of sweet nothings and then he stabbed me in the front. A more barbaric way to slaughter. He then held me in his arms as I bled out. All hope, love and yearning shed to the ground, to be walked upon and disregarded. There was no use looking for my heart in the autopsy. It had vaporized under the weight of its own crushing hopes and dreams.
I was turning away from the sweet, poppy “angst but it has an uplifting beat” lyrics of Matt Nathanson's song, just as the place where my heart once resided became a bed of scar tissue and anger.
Instead I felt more at home and at peace with Jack White’s song “Love Interruption.” Bluesy, soulful and guttural. I felt like the whiskey and battery-acid tinged voice of Jack White was my own wounded soul’s voice growling and sputtering the lyrics:
“I won’t let love disrupt, corrupt or interrupt me,
I won’t let love disrupt, corrupt or interrupt me,
I won’t let love disrupt, corrupt or interrupt me … any more.”
I felt this chorus was becoming my mantra as I scaled out of the pit of my despair with bloody, cracked fingernails.
How do you move on and embrace love when you’re angry with yourself for being duped in the first place? How do you keep yourself from turning into some country music archetype of wounded, bitter love?
I’m not sure.
All I know is that the journey doesn’t end here.
A few days after the Bad Ass Bandit drop-kicked my heart, I received some sad news. My friend’s roommate, a sparkling beam of sunshine in a golden 27 year old man’s body, had unexpectedly and accidentally died in his sleep. He lived down the street from me. I had seen him just a few weeks prior. He was the type of guy who drew all eyes upon him. He literally glowed with personality and good humor. He was always the center of attention. Upon seeing him, you immediately wanted to know who he was and could he adopt you into his world? You would bask in his sunshiny warmth and smiles.
I couldn’t make sense of what kind of world we lived in where such a golden light needed to be snuffed out so early. I cried for all the adventures, experiences and joy, this lovely man would never be able to hold. I cried for his partner who was left behind in extreme shock. When you’re young, your possibilities are endless and you are immortal gods. His partner had to learn the hard, cold reality that no one is immortal.
While I felt like I had suffered an emotional death with Bad Ass Bandit; this 27 year old golden boy had suffered a real, honest, “time stops now” death. There were no metaphors or junior high school girl dissection and application of song lyrics. There was just a body in a coffin, a life ended too soon.
I was still sad at my post-Bad Ass Bandit state, but I was alive. And I could wear the widow’s cloak of my regret, shame and pain or I could get back on Columbus’ ship and look for treasures in the New World. I knew what the dear Golden Boy would have told me to do.
“Get off your f*cking ass and get back out there.”
I can’t curl up and wait for death, because it’s going to be here faster than I want it. So the best I can do is make the most of today. And if the Bad Ass Bandit steals my dreams for the future, then I only have myself to blame for giving him such power. He is Jar Jar Binks – a laughable, offensive character who only deserves my pity and disgust. Nothing more than that.
The Bad Ass Bandit/Jar Jar Binks is not the Emperor with a Death Star weapon to take me down.
(By the way, I’m not that big of a Star Wars fan (sorry, George Lucas) – but man, the analogies just work! Heh heh.)
Recently, I was hanging out with another would-be suitor from the past. We were chilling with a cocktail and having a lovely, intense conversation about life, emotions, history, goals and everything else. I leaned back and said: “This is really nice. How come we haven’t hung out like this before?” He looked at me with confusion, surveying my face to see if I was kidding. But he realized I was genuine in my bewilderment.
“Because ... you’ve had a boyfriend …” He said.
My jaw dropped because I had completely forgotten about The Bad Ass Bandit. It was like my mind had been scrubbed. I started laughing hysterically.
My would-be suitor laughed, a little uncomfortably and said: “I love how quickly you can forget about someone.”
I didn’t respond back. I just kept laughing. I didn't want to steer the conversation into a darker, more emotional place by explaining that my temporary amnesia was neither flippant nor forgetful. Nor should it be taken as an indication that I hadn't loved The Bad Ass Bandit with all my heart.
I wish it were easy to just quickly forget about Bad Ass Bandit and move on. But rather in that moment, I think the temporary amnesia was caused by my brain exhausted of mulling the specter of Bad Ass Bandit's bad behavior. It had been in the forefront of my mind at every single, waking moment for way too long. Through temporary selective amnesia, I had been granted a brief reprieve from pain and regret.
But in that brief reprieve, I found hope. Because as I tip my hat to Jack White, I am not going to let the Bad Ass Bandit disrupt, corrupt or interrupt me anymore.
I thought Bad Ass Bandit was a piece of my glorious future.
Instead, he was a stepping stone on my journey.
As my beloved Minnesota singer/songwriter Paul Westerberg says in his song “Things”:
“Things I’d never tell you
Down the line someday
You’ll be a song I sing
A thing, I give away.”
Thank you – sincerely - for many, many, many sweet memories, Bad Ass Bandit. And two really sh*tty memories too. (Readers: keep an eye out for my "Yellow Wallpaper" blog post!) No matter how lovely you were in the moment - and maybe your nobility was all my own creation - a figment of my imagination; it is time to finish the last chapter on your tale and close the book on you.
Time for my ship to sail again. I won’t be blunderbussed by you anymore, Bad Ass Bandit. Life is too short to spend it cloaked in the pains of the past.