Monday, January 13, 2014

No. 143 – Down and Out

Performer: Genesis
Songwriters: Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford
Original Release: … And Then There Were Three …
Year: 1978
Definitive Version: None.

This is another one of those “barrier songs” in that every song below this song belongs there. Every song ahead of it belongs there, too. Down and Out is one of Genesis’ hardest rockers, and if you don’t know this one, you really ought to check it out.

Scott listened to this song a lot after splitting with the Alien Woman. Even though it’s about a businessman, parts of the lyrics certainly can be applied to ending a bad relationship of any type. It turns out I had it on my mind—thanks to one of the many Genesis bootlegs Scott copied for me in 1987—during a relationship snafu of my own years before.

I mentioned—a long time ago—how after I split with Jessica, she set me up with a friend of hers in 1989. That was the second time she tried to play matchmaker. The first time was a year earlier, and let’s just say she was less than helpful that time (which, truth be told, probably is why she tried again).

So, it’s May 1988, and my outlook on life had brightened enormously thanks to the whirlwind arrival of Hurricane Melanie. At about that time, Jessica told me she was throwing a party at her apartment in Chicago and she wanted me to come … and to meet a friend of hers.

Oh really? Well, I was smitten with Melanie, but I also wasn’t so far gone that I wasn’t open to the possibility of exploring a different avenue. Sure, count me in.

There was one problem: Jessica knew about Melanie.

Now, I can’t remember whether I told Jessica at the time of the invite, which is possible but would have been supremely dunderheaded, or whether I told her before. I believe it was the latter, but I don’t remember. The bottom line is that when I drove to Chicago that Saturday, Jessica knew I wasn’t entirely unencumbered.

As far as I was concerned, however, I was a free agent. If I’d taken anything from my breakup with Beth, it was that … well, nothing’s set in stone when no commitment has been made (and sometimes not even then).

I definitely wanted to continue to see Melanie, but a long-distance relationship is a long-distance relationship. I was in New Buffalo; she was in Detroit. It was a four-hour drive away. Even if we wanted to, we weren’t going to see each other more than every other week regardless.

Meanwhile, Jessica’s friend was in Chicago. That’s a two-hour drive away, closer but still for all intents and purposes long distance. There was no reason why I couldn’t see both—we all lived in different cities and were beholden to no one—and determine at some point whether I wanted to be exclusive with one or the other. Neither would know about the other, and more important neither NEEDED to know about the other.

So you can imagine my surprise—and displeasure—when I learned that my little scheme had been laid to waste before it even began. As I stood in the kitchen of Jessica’s apartment—the same one where I’d spent several nights less than a year before—Jessica told me she had told her still-to-arrive friend, Rebecca, that I was seeing someone else.

Why? Well, Jessica wasn’t going to lie to her friend, but it also wasn’t in Jessica’s nature to not spill the beans. (Jessica had been overly forthcoming about her love life before we even hooked up. TMI wasn’t her concern.)

That’s why I’m sure I didn’t tell Jessica about Melanie at the same time as the party. I wouldn’t want to spoil my own plan, so the obvious question was, if she knew about Melanie, why did she bother trying to set me up with one of her friends? I guess she thought I’d choose her friend.

Well, no matter. I met Rebecca, and Jessica was right: There was something there, so much so that we ended up making out in her car before she drove home … alone. (I spent the night at Jessica’s apartment, on the couch, which was fine.)

However, while we were in Rebecca’s car, she mentioned that Jessica had said something about me seeing someone else. ARGH! I didn’t lie, but I said I still wanted to go out with her. Rebecca agreed, but she said she wasn’t into sharing.

Well, this sucked. I’d been with one person—seeing her, really, three, maybe four times—in a month. We hadn’t yet become lovers. There was absolutely no reason why I should have been put in the position where I felt I had to make some sort of decision, but that’s exactly how I felt.

I kept the date with Rebecca. I don’t recall what we did, but I remember that at the end, I told Rebecca that if I had to choose—and, apparently, I did—I was choosing to go in the proverbial “other direction.” I was going to go with the (somewhat) known commodity. I was going to go with the person who wasn’t forcing the issue.

I never regretted my decision, even after Melanie and I blew up so spectacularly a few months later. Within weeks, Melanie and I consummated our relationship, and the Summer of Love was in full swing. She seemed like the brass ring, and I was going to reach for it.

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