So this album kicks a lot of ass. I bought it in early 2004 after hearing “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” and loving it. It’s a great rock and roll record, and every time I hear it I can pick up more musical influences on the band; I fucking love when that happens! But it’s also one of those albums that has a specific meaning to me because of what was happening when I first became obsessed with it. I’m listening to it right now and thinking back 8 years to who I was and what I was going through. It’s been a long time since I listened to it, and I think that’s because I cannot separate it from those experiences. Not that those experiences were horrible, really. They were actually extremely pleasant, especially the first few nights! But like everything that happens between me and the straight men I lust after, it never quite works out the way I want it to.
I was listening to this album before anything happened between us; in fact, I probably started listening to it in my car on the way to and from work at The Cheesecake Factory about a week or two before anything happened. And because I am a girl, after we enjoyed ourselves and he moved away every song on this album took on new meaning for me. Thinking about these songs reminds me of Foo Fighters’ The Colour and the Shape in the way it sort of summarizes a relationship from beginning to end. The songs are kind of out of order, though. The first song for us should be “Cold Hard Bitch,” since that’s why he liked me in the first place. “Cold hard bitch/Just a kiss on the lips/and I was on my knees/I’m waitin’.” Yeah, I always imagined him listening to this song while thinking about me. Not sure he ever listened to Jet, but I think he should.
Here’s the story: Back in the day I had an issue with straight men. The issue was that they were not gay men, and I only hung out with gay men in gay bars and went to gay events like gay pride where I ran the gay beer garden. Straight men annoyed the shit out of me. A couple years earlier I had a short but very dramatic relationship with someone I worked with at a previous job, and it took me two years to get over that shit. I was done with love and trying to give straight men a chance. So I hung out with my gays and whored around in their bars. I never cared who I messed around with or what their orientation was. I just wanted to have fun. And I did.
I was very open about my scandalous private life with the people I worked with, so I got kind of a reputation at The Cheese even though I wasn’t fooling around with anybody there. One of the servers hit on me a lot and I flirted back, but when I finally propositioned him he pussied out. But there was this other guy who would do annoying things to me that boys in elementary school do to girls they like when they are afraid to tell them how they feel. One time I was collecting menus to bring back up to the front desk, and when I would set a stack of them down for a second somewhere in the dining room he would move them; he did this a few times to get a reaction out of me, and when I told him I needed them he said, “I think it’s cute how you’re following me around!” I thought that was stupid. The thing that really got to him was when I was standing at one of the server stations talking to a busboy, and he came over and stood next to me for a minute without saying a word. Next thing I know, he slipped his hand in front of me to open the drawer and get some silverware. The drawer handle was right at crotch-level for me, so I was pissed. The busboy said something to him he didn’t like, and he responded with something like “Don’t talk to me that way.” I replied to him with, “It’s called ‘don’t stick your fingers in my vagina unless I tell you to’!” He didn’t know how to respond to that and stumbled over his words to say he wasn’t doing anything but trying to get silverware. “Why didn’t you say ‘excuse me’ instead of pushing your hand down there like that?” He was pretty much speechless and walked away. I later found out that he jerked off that night while thinking about what I said.
I’m not sure how long after that it was that Johnny Cash came up in conversation. We were in the server station by the bar and I was talking to another server about music, and mentioned that my family and I had been to Graceland. So we were saying how much we like Elvis, when Benny and the Jets (that’s how I always referred to him in my head) interrupted to say something along the lines of, “Elvis is pretty good, but Johnny Cash is even better.” I was impressed. “Johnny Cash is the only acceptable alternative to Elvis,” I told him. From then on I didn’t hate his guts.
Two days before he was going to move back with his family (his dad had some health issues) we were working the day shift, and he asked if I wanted to go to Dave and Buster’s that night for his going away party. We were not friends or anything, but I was kind of nice to him at this point, but it was still kind of weird to me that he asked me to come. I asked who else was going, and one name he mentioned was this server named Andre who I thought was hot. I tentatively agreed, thinking I could get down Andre’s pants that night.
I talked to one of the other hostesses about going, and we each decided to go only if the other went. We met somewhere close to D&B and drove over together in my car, Jet playing all the way. It was a pretty slow night, and the place is huge so it took us a while to find the guys. I wore tight jeans and a low-cut camisole that pushed my titties up and out. Benny and the Jets was sitting at the bar eating wings or something when I plopped myself down on the seat and said hello. He looked right at my cleavage and I told him I dressed just for him. He thanked me.
This is where “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” should come into the story. Not that he wanted to date me, of course.
I was a big drinker back then, but I was driving so I had to take it easy. He bought me a beer and asked what kind of shots I liked. “Jack Daniels,” I replied. He was impressed. He normally drank Jameson’s. We did shots and then walked around for a bit with the others. My friend Amber and I played skeeball by ourselves for a while, and then the guys found us. She was underage so they were sneaking her drinks, and Benny and the Jets would bring me a drink every time they brought one for Amber. I was tipsy and didn’t really care what was going to happen that night, but I knew someone was gonna get some! Benny and the Jets spanked my ass a few times, and it was a good night.
When D&B was closing we decided to go to another bar. Amber and I were drunk, so we left my car at D&B and Amber got into Will’s car and Benny and the Jets’ roommate drove the three of us to some bar close to their house about 45 minutes away. BatJ had heard lots of stories about me and figured I was good to go, so we made out in the ladies’ room at the bar as soon as we got there. We all drank more and when we left, we were all going to go back to his place and keep partying. Well, Amber went home with Will instead.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch…yeah, a good time was had. The best time I ever had. Seriously. And not just what you think. Our conversation, as fucked up as we were after drinking all night, was amazing. I learned a lot about him and how much we had in common. He told me how much enjoyed it when I was a bitch to him. And he said he wanted me to meet his parents. That was weird.
The next day everyone was at work. I found out about Amber and Will and I told her and a few others about me and BatJ. And then he asked if I wanted to get together again that night at the bar next door to The Cheese. He was moving the next day.
More drinking. More hotness. More conversation. It was even better than the night before. And I felt happy. The first night was just a thing—lots of fun, and he was cooler than I thought, but still, just something to do. But the second night, I don’t know, there was just so much passion. I wanted more.
“Come Around Again” should be played now (and at several points later in our saga). He told me he wanted me to come visit in about a month, for his birthday. I still thought it was weird, because really, we hardly know each other. What was I to him? What would he tell his parents about me? But I wanted to go, of course. I didn’t call him for a few weeks because I figured he was getting settled. But then we talked, and decided I would come down on a Wednesday. It felt strange, though, the way it was discussed. He wouldn’t give me specific directions to his house. He told me to call him when I got to the exit off the freeway, and he’d tell me then how to get to his place. And guess what? The day before I was supposed to visit, he left me a voicemail that said he thought it would be best for me to not drive down, that he had a lot of family stuff going on for his birthday and that I should visit another time. Fine. But then I heard nothing for a few months. When I called he was wasted and driving around with some dudes on a Friday night. Then nothing for a while.
Until New Year’s Eve. I had been fooling around with someone else for six months by then, but BatJ called me at ten after midnight to say Happy New Year. That is not a random phone call. I called back as soon as I got the message, and he was so excited to hear from me. We were in touch in the following weeks, and then we met again halfway between our hometowns at his friend’s place. It was another amazing night. We were going to stay another night, but then he cancelled. And that became our pattern.
“Take It or Leave It.” Benny and the Jets, what do you want? Over the next few years there were lots of 3AM drunken phone calls and texts from him, and I always responded. He had me, he totally had me after that second night we spent together. But neither of us was in the right frame of mind or stage of life to really make anything happen. “Move On” really is the perfect song here. “Yeah, I’m gonna hafta move on/Before we meet again.” Yes. That’s exactly it. For both of us.
But I wanted him bad. And I really hardly knew him. We had awesome phone conversations over the years, but they were few and far between. I cannot even count how many times he said he was going to visit me and then canceled. “Come Around Again.”
I had to let him go a few years ago, that is, tell him to stop randomly contacting me, after the fifth time in a year that he canceled on me. I did not want to do it. I had just broken up with my best friend who was also unreliable and canceled plans with me constantly, on top of being a pathological liar and chronic cheater. I hated to leave him, but I had to do it. Benny and the Jets was making me feel crazy, so I had to get rid of whatever small, occasional part he actually had in my life. It was horrible, and I was quite passive-aggressive about it, but it needed to happen. It was kind of like “Last Chance,” because I wanted him to fight for me, but I knew he wouldn’t. After I sent him the email where I told him something like “unless you can be a man and talk to me, please do not contact me again” he did call me, but I was driving to school and didn’t want to deal with it. He seemed sincere but I was very fragile because of what had happened with my best friend a few months earlier. I emailed him the next night, acknowledging my hypocrisy in not being a woman and talking to him instead of emailing. But I just couldn’t talk to him then. I did tell him everything I felt in that email, and then in one or two others much later. I don’t know that I really expected him to respond to anything I wrote. He probably thought I was fucking crazy. And I am a bit, but not in the way that I used to be. I am always overwhelming in my passion, and I have never met anyone who could handle it and reciprocate it.
So that was it. There were occasional Facebook “likes” and comments, a few emails after I started my first blog. Last year he wished me happy birthday on my Facebook page, and there were a few comments after that. I have dreams about him every so often, and they are always nice ones. I never let go of the idea of us. And what exactly was that based on? A few nights of fun? A handful of phone calls over the span of five years? Some random emails and Facebook posts? It’s been eight and a half years since this story began, seven and a half since we last saw each other. And I still want him. I absolutely adore him. “Get What You Need” is appropriate. I thought I was going to marry this guy. Who knows why that idea stayed with me for so long? He’s a good guy, and he seems to be doing well. All I ever wanted was for him to be happy. I’m going to break into some Adele in a minute: “Never mind, I’ll find someone like you/I wish nothing but the best for you, too/Don’t forget me.” But I need to focus on Jet: “Take control/And don’t be afraid of me/…You should be happy just to be alive.” And let’s not even go into how much I love that this record is called Get Born. So much going on with that.