I was re-reading one of my favorite books this week'Of Human Bondage--and I was struck by the plight of the main character. After being left by the woman he passionately loved, he found that curiously, he did not miss her. 'He did not think of her with wrath,' Maugham wrote, 'but with an overwhelming sense of boredom.'
I too, feel overwhelmed by boredom when contemplating most of my exes. For fun, sometimes, I try to determine what, if anything, I have gotten out of these particular relationships. The psychic scars are clear; the emotional damage is decided and diagnosable.
I have gained something from these failed relationships besides psychological disorders, however. Each boyfriend that passes through my life leaves a definite impression on one vital part of me'my music collection.
My first boyfriend insisted on wooing me to the strains of The Ramones and The Circle Jerks. When he was feeling particularly amorous, he would slip in a cassette of G.G. Allin, lyricist of such thoughtful songs as 'Scars on My Body, Scabs on My Dick' and 'Needle Up My Cock.'
Boyfriend #1 had been in a punk band of his own, a fact that never failed to impress me. One of his few releases, titled 'Hell Bent For Rehab' featured lyrics about older men seducing teenage girls for kicks. 'Dude, that's not, like, autobiographical,' he would claim, as he told me to wait in the car so he could buy us the cigarettes and lottery tickets that I was not legally allowed to purchase.
And much as my mother expected and my father prayed for, Boyfriend #1 left my life, into the arms of a waiting stripper. The stain of his musical taste, however, was not so easily lifted. Listening to Iggy Pop still makes me quiver with delight, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't think some of Fang's lyrics didn't affect in a way that no one else has since been able to replicate'the song 'Everybody Makes Me Want to Barf' really speaks to me.
The next 'boyfriend' was the only one with any actual musical taste. An actual DJ, his taste ranged from Kiss to Olivia Newton-John, but new wave and 80's classics were his true calling. The floor of our apartment buckled under the weight of his records, and he would often stay hours after closing at his record store job, looking for disco classics or ultra-rare Sigue Sigue Sputnik remixes. #2 shaped my musical taste beyond compare'each time he infuriated me, which was many times daily, he brought me reconciliation gifts of records and cds. 'You like Tiffany?' he'd ask, and reappear with all of her b-sides and five other teenage girl artists that I was sure to like as much or more. He still sends me packages of cds occasionally, and is my lifeline into the world of pop music.
Boyfriend #3, despite being a self-proclaimed music aficionado, took much more from me musically than he gave, which was representative of much of the relationship. Notwithstanding his refusal to meet or acknowledge the existence of #2, he was content copying all of #2's music from my collection, and adopting it as his own. He would DJ entire parties with songs that were, essentially, sloppy seconds from my previous love.
I came out of that relationship with less positive additions to my musical collection, but a definitive idea of what I didn't want. Namely, emo-core bands with limited talent and a decided focus on their hairstyles, much like their dedicated fans. And sometimes, learning what you don't want, emotionally or musically, is all you can expect to get out of a relationship.
And now, working in an office with dozens of handsome young men with the 'Sharing' box on their ITunes checked, I've found that rather than deal with their personalities or problems, I'm content to scroll through their playlists, and imagine how my life could change if I downloaded them to my collection.