The crickets cry tonight
here comes your girl
The showers fall tonight
it's a rainy world
We weren't speaking to each other much by this point. We were two very messed up people at the time.
We spoke on the phone, and wanted to see each other. Somehow, can't remember whose idea it was, we decided to go to the cinema, no specific film in mind to see, just this normal everyday thing we could do with each other, like back in the days, when we used to do every normal everyday thing together.
So we met up. We were both cautious. There were lulls in the conversation, not many but they were there, things unsaid hanging heavy in the air, things unsaid because we simply didn't know how to say them. We were cautious, and we small-talked. And we were still great, we were good together. She was always the one person I felt at ease with, despite how much was at stake, and things flowed out of me, jokes were made, laughs were shared. But we both knew there were many things we needed to say to each other. And we didn't because we were all too aware how much we could lose.
The shivers on my spine
could be what we had in mind
Remember all the times we said
we could be
we should be
Somewhere on the way to the cinema, she said, "I feel so lonely".
...and I believe my response was something like "Aww.". What the fuck is aww? I didn't mean it to come out cold, patronising, I was a stupid inarticulate fucker, I was so angry with my not being able to make the one I love happy, I didn't know how to respond. I wanted to say: You know I would do anything for you, you know if you called I'd drop everything to be there, is that not enough anymore? Am I not enough anymore? Tell me what I can do, and you know I'll do it. I didn't say any of that.
I wrapped my arm around her waist, a natural reaction, a wish to hold her closer and to comfort her, to be with her so she's not lonely any more - and if I could help it so she would never feel lonely again. She didn't know how much it meant to me, someone to whom physical touch was rare and unfamiliar, craved-for but difficult. With her it came naturally, without thought, the same way everything I did with her seemed to.
She took my hand off her waist, and instead placed it on her shoulder.
Though at the time I probably didn't want to acknowledge it, being simply grateful that our bodies were still making contact, I couldn't help be at least dimly aware it was a clear signal that said Friends only.
Still, I wanted to be friends with her. We had been best friends, she was my best friend, regardless of all the other things I felt about her, for her. But the message was pretty clear.
So I was kind of surprised at the choice of movie she made when we got there. There weren't many good films on. There was this film with John Cusack in it - I had read somewhere that it was a romantic comedy, about two people destined to be together, separated and reunited by fate.
Given the tensions in our relationship, I thought that was the last thing we needed. But she said, "Let's see that."
I looked into those eyes of hers. "But it's a romantic comedy. A romance." I tried to explain what it's about, tried to make out as if I didn't want to see it because it was cheesy, when she knew I was into this kind of thing. She must've known that given our recent history of break-ups and make-ups and our best-friends-or-something-more blurry status, a romance was the last thing we should see.
"Let's see that anyway," she insisted.
She must've known what she was doing to me. She must've known. I tried to look into her eyes, tried to see if she realised what signals she was sending.
As usual, I couldn't tell.
On a windy porch tonight
here comes your girl
Beneath the dull porch light
your thoughts will curl
Past the women and the men
to where the story ends
When the voice from up above he says
we could be
we should be
la la la la la
lah lah lah
So we went inside to see this film, with John Cusack playing, well, John Cusack like he does in probably everything he's ever done, being the neurotic and flawed everyman, the oddball misfit eccentric. He and Kate Beckinsale meet, their characters have great chemistry with each other but are both with someone at the time, they decide to test fate by parting and seeing if destiny would bring them back together. Many years later, having lost each other that night, both are engaged to be married, but neither can shake the need to give fate one last chance to reunite them, so they go searching for each other. Amusing confusion and frustrating near-misses ensue.
Guess what happens in the end.
So I saw it, with the girl I loved sitting beside me. The irony was all laid on so thick I didn't know whether to laugh, or what. There was much on screen that was simply a reflection of the way things were with us, but I guess you could find similarities and coincidences everywhere, if you were looking for them. A difference however is that in real life, the happy ending wasn't quite so forthcoming.
I watched the film, all the while wondering whether the girl sitting next to me thought about me during it the same way I kept thinking about her. I was surprised I actually managed to watch the film at all, and quite enjoyed it too. The film was warm, magical, implausible, and perhaps because of that, very romantic. It's the kind of film you'd like if you're the hopeless romantic type. I had some reservations about the unceremonious ways the two main characters left behind their respective partners in pursuit of their supposed destiny - but the film paid barely any attention to the minor characters, Hollywood never does, so I had hardly any time to dwell on that. Other than that, the main story, I liked.
When we came out of the cinema, she said she liked too.
We were quiet as we walked towards the train station, both of us in a contemplative mood. When we got there, I sat with her on her platform and waited with her, even though we were going in opposite directions.
My disgusting habits end
it's a crazy world
Neither real or pretend
then there's your girl
Our time together was about to end, and all those things unsaid were still there around us. All too aware a train was about to come to take her away from me, I had to say something but - did I mention that I was an inarticulate fucker? I never had the words when I needed them. What was I supposed to say? I had already used The Three Words by this point. I could say them a million times over, would love to say them a million times, would linger lovingly on every syllable, but, I didn't want to scare her away.
At a loss, conscious of my time with her slipping away, I pulled out the walkman I had with me. 'I found this song I think you'd really like,' I said. Being a big music fan she was used to my enthusiastic attempts at introducing her to my favourites.
I had discovered Lambchop's album Nixon recently. It is one lush, romantic record - especially if you programme out the second-to-last track and the murder ballad at the end (which is a pretty funny idea in itself). But the song I fell in love with was "The Book I Haven't Read", because it was, at that point in my life, everything I wanted to say, to her.
I rewound the tape, handed her the earphones, and she listened. I couldn't just stare at her, so I looked away, stared ahead instead at the posters peeling away on the tunnel wall, waited.
In silence I sat as she listened, wishing I could listen with her, that I could share the experience. A couple of trains came and went, as it was nearing the evening rush hour and people were starting to return from school and work, but other than that there wasn't anyone else on the platform. Just us, the whole platform to ourselves.
After several minutes, and I imagine after the song had finished, she handed me the earphones back. She made a sound of pleasure that was hard to describe, because I imagine it sent a shiver down her spine, just as it did mine the first time I heard it. It was one of the most romantic songs I knew. I nodded, smiled. I looked at her and waited for her to say more.
Though she seemed pensive, it seemed that was all she was going to say. We were quiet again. Her train came not long afterwards.
We said our goodbyes, and she got on. I don't know if she realised what I was trying to say, and if she did, whether the lack of response was because she didn't feel the same way. And I guess I would never know.
The doors to the carriage closed behind her, the train pulled away, and I watched her go.
As my eyes fall from my head
with all the pages read
and I'm so glad you said
we could be
we should be
la la la la la
lah lah lah
"Curtis Mayfield and I did not sit down and write this together. What happened was that I intentionally lifted a line of music from his fabulous tune "Baby It's You" and used it for my own purpose. I just wanted people to know he had some direct influence on the tune and, of course, give credit where it is due. I'm really proud of this song. For me it was kind of a watershed in terms of laying "it" out on the line. I wrote this for my beautiful wife, just straight, sappy, sentiment. The string introduction felt a bit goofy when we first recorded it so we flipped the tape over and tried using it backwards only to discover it sounded about the same. We found that when we blended the two parts together that they became more interesting than either by themselves. The process was excruciating and I almost vomited from the exercise of thinking backward and forward simultaneously. Before this was mixed, this was my least favourite representation of what I had in mind. It now is my favourite. The Book? The book of love, silly."
- Kurt Wagner, 28 November 1999
Lyrics to "(Fearless)The Book I Haven't Read" in italics. Written by Kurt Wagner and Curtis Mayfield, performed by Lambchop, from their album Nixon released in 2000.
Kurt Wagner's quote from www.cityslang.com.
Lyrics quoted under Fair Use. Permission request sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submitted to the E2 Quests: Songs and Lyrics