Thursday, February 20, 2014

No. 105 – I’m Not in Love

Performer: 10cc
Songwriters: Eric Stewart, Graham Gouldman
Original Release: The Original Soundtrack
Year: 1975
Definitive Version: None.

I remember when Art for Art’s Sake was a hit in 1975. That was the first I’d heard of 10cc. I didn’t know I’m Not in Love till later—I thought it was She’s Gone by Hall & Oates at first—so I was a bit flabbergasted whilst going back to collect the basic data above to learn that I’m Not in Love predated Art for Art’s Sake. Also surprising were the songwriters: I thought Godley and Creme wrote everything.

I knew this song from Mom playing WCOL, which was a top-40 station, in the evening after we’d moved into the Condo—why I thought it came out in 1977. I remember her emphatically singing the words “I’m not in love, just because” although I’m not sure it was with the denial that it was intended.

That was an odd time—when Mom began to date. I was all for Mom seeing other guys. After all, she was the one who was wronged by Dad. Why shouldn’t she be happy, too?

During this time, Mom went out a lot, well, a lot compared with before when she never went anywhere unless it was with Dad. I know this because I now was old enough to babysit when we weren’t with Dad. Mom joined a group called Parents Without Partners and made a good friend who was the mother of a big family we knew from summer recreation at Greensview. Mom and Judy were on the phone with each other all the time.

It wasn’t long before I heard Mom use a guy’s name that I didn’t recognize, meaning someone whom Mom saw when she went out. That didn’t last long before another name began to be bandied about—Gary. This lasted longer.

We met Gary. He came over to pick up Mom for their date, coming inside the Condo. Me, Jin and Scott had been peeking from the window in Mom’s bedroom down into the living room and then thundered down the stairs (with our dog Sugar) eager to meet Mom’s new boyfriend.

Unfortunately, we didn’t see him again, and later Mom said that us barreling down the stairs chased him off. I can see her point now, but I resented her attempt to make us feel guilty at the time. Hey, if the dude can’t handle the fact that you’re raising three kids, that’s HIS problem, not ours.

Anyway, not long after that, Mom stopped going out on dates and stopped hanging out with Judy. That was because she began to hang out exclusively with the neighbors who lived in the complex behind ours.

These were all married couples, some who had adult kids and some who had kids my age. This was how I met Scott and Billy, who later taught me how to make bottle rockets and steal car-hood ornaments. And this was how Mom met who might have been the love of her life.

Roger was married with adult kids. He ran his own business, and he seemed to drive a new land yacht every other year. And sometime in 1978, when I was confusing this song with Just the Way You Are by Billy Joel, Roger and Mom began an affair.

Jin, Scott and I knew this went on—knew that Mom was carrying on with a married man. We didn’t care. Only later did I realize that we were the victims of a double standard. Dad was a villain, because he cheated on Mom, yet here SHE was cheating with a married man. I guess that Mom wasn’t married at the time made what she did OK in her mind, but obviously that didn’t make her any less a guilty party. When I came to realize that, I began to forgive Dad for leaving her.

At the time, however, I didn’t see that. The big difference to me was I felt isolated from Dad, as I suppose I would have even if had and Mom stayed together. As I think I mentioned, when he left for the last time, I felt relieved. Roger was an outsider, so he was automatically OK in my book.

Besides, Roger was going to divorce his wife, whom he didn’t love anyway, and marry Mom. You know how I knew that? Because he SAID SO. What I didn’t appreciate at the time was that people who carry on affairs tend to lie, a lot.

What I appreciated, however, was that Roger also lied to me. He would say he’d come to one of my baseball or basketball games. (I played little league basketball one year—winning a championship and having my best game in the championship game.)

Of course, he never did, because, well, what if someone who knew him saw him there? How does he explain why he was there—at a kids’ sporting event—and his wife wasn’t? I didn’t understand this at the time. All I knew was what I saw through the eyes of a selfish teenager’s perspective: He promised, and he didn’t deliver.

Finally, he capitulated—one time. Around this time, I discovered Richard Pryor. Roger was a fan, too (how can you not be, right?). Well, Live in Concert was showing at the midnight movies on campus. I hadn’t seen it and I wanted to go, but I wasn’t old enough to drive (or sneak into an R-rated movie) by myself.

Roger said he’d take me, and I flat out told him he was a liar. You’ve never come through before on anything else. Calling his bluff worked. He took me the next weekend, and, of course, we laughed our butts off. I guess that going to a midnight movie on Ohio State’s campus was safe enough for him.

Sometime in 1980, or 1981, Mom and Roger called off their affair after three years. We didn’t talk about it much, but she broke up with him, apparently tired of his empty promises. At least that’s the story I got, but considering some of the other stories she told, who really knows what happened and why?

What I know for sure is the end of their affair was, essentially, the end of Mom’s social life. She stopped seeing anyone and stopped going anywhere that wasn’t specifically related to us kids. She just stayed in the Condo all day, usually in her room, reading her books, watching TV, drinking.

Now, I know Roger didn’t cause Mom’s alcoholism. She already was an alcoholic long before she and Dad divorced, but it was as though the end of her affair with Roger was the final straw in what had been a tumultuous time in her life. She was 40, and she threw in the towel. She fell into a pit of depression and crawled into a case of Busch beer, never to be seen again.

I’m not in love, just because. Indeed.

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