Performer: Pearl Jam
Songwriters: Jeff Ament, Eddie Vedder
Original Release: Ten
Definitive Version: MTV Music Awards, 1992.
Scott and I were in similar situations at Thanksgiving 1992—we both had recently broken up with girlfriends. Well, I can’t really call Jenna a girlfriend. We dated for a month, although we danced around the flame together for most of the year. But Scott had been with The Alien Woman—let’s call her Allie—for close to two years.
This was something of a secret. I mentioned that Scott went through a rough breakup at the end of the school year in 1991, which necessitated our first trip to Toronto. Well, apparently the next year they got back together, sort of. It was very off and on. Allie had left Ball State and was living at home, which was in a small town along I-65, and Scott would go over to visit.
I think I was the only one in the family who knew this. No one else liked Allie, which, of course, doesn’t help their relationship. I think I met her only once, and she seemed OK, I guess. She didn’t make much of an impression aside from her huge teeth, crazy eyes and bangs that were teased six inches high, which reminded me of the alien queen in Aliens—thus the nickname, which, of course, I used only after the fact.
When Scott let slip that he and Allie were seeing each other again, I didn’t judge. I understood all too well how the heart and the loins can lead a young man to do questionable things. The sex must have been great, because the relationship was toxic. Scott even admitted as much in frustration one phone call, but he kept going back all the same.
Finally, through the grace of God, Scott broke up with her for good about the same time that Jenna and I went down the drain. Apparently, he went over to visit and found out about her other boyfriends, as in plural. He wasn’t as upset as he had been the year before, but I still had to console him. He had dodged a major bullet, I told him. It’s for the best. Little did I know how right I was.
For Thanksgiving that year, the whole family was to gather at my aunt Nan’s in Ann Arbor. Scott had invited a friend, and I want to say now that his name was Jeremy, which is why I had this song in mind (along from the fact I was listening to my newly beloved Pearl Jam ALL THE TIME).
Scott and Jeremy drove to Grand Blanc to stay with me Wednesday and hang out. I took them to the White Horse to finally see the legendary watering hole and to get a glimpse of Jenna—to verify that I once was dating the hottest woman in Michigan. Unfortunately, she was off that night, so Scott just had to take my word for it.
We had a few drinks, nothing substantial, I thought, but when we got home, Scott wanted to talk about Allie some more. Fine. Jeremy went inside. I listened intently.
He told me he had been worried about the other guys Allie had been with, so he got an AIDS test that came back negative. He said he wasn’t really worried, because Allie told him that she had had some injury when she was younger, so she was pretty sure she couldn’t have kids, and …
Hold it right there. Brothers can kid each other in ways that others can’t, because they know where the bodies are buried, so to speak. They also can hit harder than anyone else when called for. I had my judge robes on, and I let it fly.
ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?!? This woman LIED to you constantly, cheated on you, yet you still took no precautions, because SHE said it was OK? ARE YOU AN IDIOT? Do you realize how LUCKY you are that she isn’t pregnant? Your life would’ve been RUINED! (I might have peppered those words with a few choice anglo-saxonisms.)
At that Scott broke down, either from the fact that he had never seen me this mad at him before or the weight of the truth that he really HAD dodged a serious bullet—one he hadn’t fully appreciated till then—or had a wee too much to drink after all. I don’t know. I do know he didn’t punch me, which wouldn’t necessarily have been wrong, or leave, which would have. He just kept saying sorry over and over.
I took pity on him and pulled back my assault. I hugged him and told him I loved him, and I was scared and just wanted him to be careful. He knew, but it still had to have been hard for him to hear it. We were cool the next day, though. We’re brothers. That’s just how we roll.
I don’t know whether my words had any effect. I do know that a few months later, he told me about another girl he had started dating. She was totally different from the Alien Woman. Her name, he told me, was Shani.
Scott definitely was in position to receive some good karma.