Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Men I Might Regret Sleeping With Were It Not for the Music They Introduced Me To

Part ONE: Radiohead

hurt feelings : listening pleasure = 2 : 10

I remember the precise moment I decided I would lose my virginity to someone I did not love. It was a warm early summer day when I walked the 10 minutes down sleepy suburban streets to my friend Jenny’s house, let myself in the front door, and tapped lightly on the closed door to her bedroom. The muffled cries I heard in the hallway resolved themselves on the other side of the door into Jenny, pajama-clad, fetal, sobbing on her plush carpeted floor.

Jenny’s house was not only a refuge from the tumult of my own home but a site for many girlish explorations into the world it sealed us off from. We tried hot waxing our legs sitting on the edge of her tub, listened to Jane’s Addiction while smoking cigarettes on the balcony, and lay on her bed watching David Lynch movies that lingered over the next morning’s breakfast of Dutch babies spread with apple butter. But Jenny had fallen in love one summer when I was visiting my father across the country, and at 15 she had become the first of our circle of friends to have sex. As an insecure fat girl who had never so much as held hands with a boy, I felt like Jenny had become some kind of high priestess of sexual experience — I simply couldn’t fathom that kind of intimacy. Nor could I understand what it was like to get dumped without warning a few weeks before her boyfriend of just shy of a year had left on a school trip for Japan.

Stumbling across violent emotion can feel invasive or embarrassing when it involves a stranger screaming into a cell phone; when it’s a friend you feel a different kind of discomfort. It’s like being a never-nude at the clothing optional hot tub. You know and they know you have the same stuff underneath — you’re just the one trying to hide it. Seeing Jenny in such raw agony, I felt the fragility of our safe adolescent world and the encroaching menace of the world of sex. I didn’t have the stable home life or personal confidence that Jenny had, and knew instantly I couldn’t risk being hurt like that. I resolved that moment, and over and over again for years, that I wouldn’t have sex until I knew I could handle it.

Not that it was much of a challenge to hold onto my virginity when I couldn’t believe anyone might actually want it. The first guy who kissed me was a loner who carried around old catalogs of French Citroën cars and gave me an Einsturzende Neubauten tape. His reward was a ham-handed hand job in a deserted park. After I saw his bedroom, wallpapered in magazine pictures of Kate Moss in various states of undress, I knew there would be nothing more. This boy would only reject me, I thought, but he couldn’t hurt me if I didn’t care about him.

When I moved to a city and started college, I made my first close heterosexual male friends and studied what I thought was their model for sex without romantic attachment. They thought my virginity a novelty and joked that if I didn’t take care of it they were going to have to relieve me of it themselves. But virgins always got attached, they insisted, and I was certain I would prove them wrong.

I got my opportunity a month after my 20th birthday. I was working at a café with my friend Tim when his best buddy from high school came in. Benjamin was back home for Christmas from his fancy liberal arts school. He was boyishly handsome, transparently flirtatious, and super smart in that obnoxious college-age way. I found him charming but also a bit irritating — his sense of humor was juvenile and his attention span short. I couldn’t fall for this guy! He was perfect. The act itself was unremarkable, but I was triumphant. Being the last among your friends to lose your virginity is like being the last to turn 21 — everyone has been waiting to welcome you on to the team. My best friend presented me with a trophy he bought in Chinatown, and I immediately started planning my next conquest.

But there was a hitch. I wasn’t, it turned out, any good at conquests. I liked Benjamin and I wanted him to like me. More than that, I wanted him to be consumed with thoughts of me. I pretended to be totally cool about things around Tim while secretly hummingbird-alert for any and all information. After I managed to casually borrow and copy a mix tape Benjamin had made for him, I had a specimen for study. I began the first of many campaigns, one like those that would later introduce me to South American futbol, movies about the mob, and the band Pavement. I was going to learn all about what he liked and then he would not be able to resist me. As it happened, the mix was heavy on songs from Radiohead, a band Tim told me Benjamin was desperate to see in concert. I loved these songs more than any others on the tape and concluded that our shared taste in music must mean that our souls were bound to understand each other.

I saw Benjamin only once more. I had traveled the three hours south to the town where his university was, ostensibly to visit a friend from high school, but with a powerful hope that I would win him over on his on turf. It was awkward and alienating. I didn’t fall in love with him, but I did feel changed.

A speaker once visited my junior high school to caution us about the dangers of sexual relationships. I’m sure he talked about STDs and teenage pregnancies but all I remember of it was his illustration of the end of a relationship. Taking two pieces of paper to represent a couple and folding them evenly over each other, he then ripped them apart down the center. By coming together people surrendered parts of themselves and they lost them completely when a relationship ended. That certainly seemed to be what happened to Jenny — she felt she had lost a part of herself, and she missed the real presence of the person who had become a part of her. I’m sure I laughed with my friends about how dorky the speech was but inside I was terrified, imagining that torn piece of paper folding with other torn pieces, being ripped again, and then over and over again until there was nothing left but a pile of scraps.

But that’s not how it really works. We risk a great deal in love and sex, but hopefully we gain more than we lose. Even mere infatuation gives us the hunger, if not always the facility, to see and feel as someone else — to share all of our favorite things and eagerly search those of our lovers for the secrets about them they contain. I don’t believe in fate but I do appreciate the justice done when a regrettable experience begets something wonderful. Or maybe that’s just how I justify my rotten taste in men.

After I discovered Benjamin’s feelings about Radiohead, I went out and bought their then new album, OK Computer, and fell in love. The album filled out the feelings I had about living in the late 1990s, when new political movements were taking shape, and before they crumbled in the wake of 9/11. It was both zeitgeist-y and deeply prescient, the music of ambivalence toward our new algorithmic overlords. I remember listening to the song "Subterranean Homesick Alien" on one of those multi-story escalators in the London tube. Traveling through those bright white tunnels there was a point where you could see neither the top nor the bottom, just brightness and machines. That moment was a hundred times better than the handful of moments I spent with Benjamin. I wonder if he ever saw Radiohead in concert.

"Subterranean Homesick Alien"


Part TWO: David Byrne

hurt feelings : listening pleasure = 3 : 9

When I met Finn, I was in the sexual stage I like to refer to as “raised by wolves.” A loner in high school, I had built a coterie of guy friends in college, looking to them for advice and trying to model their behavior. There is a strong case to be made that this was all the result of internalized gynophobia, but whatever the reason, I thought I was a wolf, wanted to be a wolf, but was most definitely not a wolf. So I tried harder.

Spring break was coming and I threw down the gauntlet: Whichever of me and two of my male friends could first achieve sexual congress (or, ahem, “get laid”) over the break would be treated to dinner by the others. It should immediately be obvious to you that this was merely a battle of who had the lowest standards. As a lady of 21, I could have won that very evening, but as I have explained, I am not a wolf.

Underneath all the bravado I was also deeply and dangerously insecure. I had lost weight since my heaviest point in high school but I could have lost 25 more pounds (as I eventually did) and still had a healthy amount of meat on my bones. What was worse to my mind was that I would always bear the scars of fatness: stretch marks, droopy boobs, cellulite. I was very interested in sex but I was absolutely terrified of getting naked.

Finn was a classmate of one of my friends, part of a big arty circle I was on the outskirts of. I met him first outside a friend’s house and thought him painfully handsome: blue-green eyes, strong jaw, sandy mussed hair, those unjustly long eyelashes that pretty boys sometimes have. The second time I met him was at a party where he was drunkenly passing around his driver’s license, announcing to anyone listening that he used to be fat. I got a hold of the card eventually and sure enough the picture showed him around 100 pounds heavier. My opinion of him shifted immediately.

Someone who has been fat understands things that others usually cannot. They know what it’s like to be a body rather than a person, to be recognized for the single thing that feels least a part of you. I’ve always hated the idea of the mind-body connection. My body has always been in rebellion and my mind has always tried to disown and control its wants and needs. Whether or not it is true I tend to assume that people who have been overweight or otherwise physically marked, especially in adolescence, have a higher capacity for empathy and a greater degree of humility and humanity than the general population. At least this is how I justify my exceedingly inappropriate feelings for hot Neville.

After I knew Finn had once been fat he seemed much safer — less likely to hurt me. I felt he would understand that my body was not me, and that it was not evidence of some moral failing. I was delighted to find that he had stretch marks.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. It was not until the third time I met Finn that warm with drink we stood entangled in the front yard of a house party trying, I’m sure it appeared to pedestrians, to eat each other’s faces off. I followed him home and we fucked on his futon mattress on the floor with the patchy cover of a sleeping bag. Ah college boys. There were a half dozen more such interludes over the next few months, each better than the last. I admired his mind and thought our pillow talk was almost the best part. He introduced me to writers that remain among my favorites today and influenced my thinking indelibly.

But I was far from the only woman Finn had this effect on. It was abundantly clear that he was eager to catch up on all the sex he had missed with women that wouldn’t have noticed him when he was bigger. It never occurred to me to ask for more than the occasional hook-up, mostly because I didn’t think I was attractive enough to hold him. I found confirmation for this when he got a steady girlfriend a few months later — a beautiful, slender, black-haired girl.

This would not be the end of our involvement, far from it, but it was the end of this dalliance. My dude friends were glad. They had grudgingly bought me dinner for my spring break sexual challenge, but they knew Finn wouldn’t be good to me. I knew that too. I had seen enough of his hunger for booze and drugs and general oblivion to know he had a self-destructive streak a mile wide. He was one of those writers who believed he must traverse the darkest recesses of memory and consciousness in order to create, the type one of my friends called “a black hole of emotional need.”

This made it especially strange that the music he brought into my life was so goofy and fun. It was 1998 and the David Byrne album Feelings was in constant rotation on sunny days at Finn’s house, where our group would sometimes congregate. Like many of Byrne’s solo albums, Feelings was clearly influenced by his love of so-called ‘world music.’ It was full of unexpected rhythms and hearty beats, shallow drums, rubbery guitar sounds, and triumphant horns. The album’s standout track, I have always maintained, is “Miss America,” a sunny-day pop song with lyrics that criticize America’s broken promises to the poor and huddled masses by accusing her of serial infidelity.

In the third verse of the song Byrne sings:

And I love America, but boy can she be cruel
And I know how tall she is
Without her platform shoes

I loved the line, despite its unfavorable assessments, because at the time I refused to be seen without my platforms. It was the '90s, okay? For years afterwards Finn would tell me the song always reminded him of me, that mere phrase containing a reminder of intimate knowledge that made my throat dry and my palms wet. The same song reminded me of him.

"Miss America"


Part THREE: Department of Eagles/David Holmes

hurt feelings : listening pleasure = 5 : 10

I’ve never understood the instant rebound. After my hardest break-up it took almost a year before I even noticed other men. I had been so deeply invested and in love with the man that it simply didn’t occur to me to consider anyone else for the position. It might have taken longer to shake this feeling off were it not for the happy opportunity of what I like to call a “transition penis”: an old flame whose familiarity made things easy (and who was conveniently only in town for a week).

It was through this gentleman that I was introduced to Stewart, a local celebrity I had known of for many years before I finally got to know him on a group camping trip. Stewart was known to have a predilection for brainy girls who looked vaguely European, and I was flattered to catch his eye but hesitant about getting involved. This made him all the more persistent in his wooing. We had lakeside picnics focused on ‘bear food’ (mostly berries and smoked salmon), built living room forts under the influence of Robotussin, and once ended up backstage at an Incubus concert because he happened to know the drummer or something.

It was ridiculously fun — even the dirty looks I got from girls who recognized him when we were out together were amusing. I didn’t think it would last long, but I was still surprised by how quickly he dropped me after we started sleeping together. My pride was hurt but I pretended it wasn’t — those days I so badly wanted to be considered a cool girl who just let things roll that I never let on when it hurt or called anyone on their bullshit — even when it was justified.

Nearly six months later, I was helping out with merch for a friend’s art band, not unaware that the band was full of attractive single gentlemen. I wasn’t directing my attention at anyone in particular until two friends took me aside, separately, to point out the obvious fact that the accordion player had been making serious googly eyes at me for weeks. Their comments made me re-evaluate my interactions with Toby, an artist new to the city whom everyone seemed to like. He had certainly been nice — shown interest in me and what I thought about the show (especially, I failed to notice, after he found out I was close to Stewart).

I wasn’t attracted to him at first, but feeling someone’s eyes upon you in the atmosphere of a dark, boozy place or across the room at gatherings is a strong aphrodisiac. My friends all thought he was sweet and knew I’d been heartbroken so they urged me on. One night he hosted a house party and no one seemed surprised that I kept declining rides home, holding my position on the couch in his room and maintaining my best impression of a coquette.

Of course I knew very little about Toby beyond a brief biographical sketch, but his musical choices that night seemed to speak volumes. Early in the evening he played David Holmes’ Come Get It I Got It, an album that to this day remains my No. 1 party-starting album. If there's a person who can resist its charms, I have yet to meet them. As the party trickled down to a few people Toby announced he was throwing on an album from a band he’d just heard on the radio. It turned out to be the Department of Eagles EP Whitey on the Moon, music that was beautiful, strange, melodic, dissonant, and haunting, lingering in your consciousness well after a song was over.

This was the kind of music that people noticed, the kind that made them ask “hey, who is this?” and pay attention to the answer. It certainly had that effect on me. With retrospect I can see that associating Toby with such undeniably cool music and associating myself with Toby fed my ego and blinded me to most everything else.

There is a particular danger to men like Toby. I think if women had been generally in charge of film-making over the last century rather than men, we would have seen fewer vamps and more secretly villainous men who are charming but not overtly handsome, with a look of sweetness, even vulnerability, that inspires tender feelings. I think it was vanity on my part that led me to subconsciously congratulate myself for seeing past Toby’s short stature and overgrown boyish looks and imagine I saw a warm heart, keen intelligence, and other fine character traits. The danger is that men like Toby often know they have this effect on women. I had walked straight into a trap. Toby didn’t admire me, he wasn’t interested in me or what I thought about anything, he just wanted to sleep with me.

My first clue that Toby wasn’t the gentleman I imagined came during our pre-bed flirtations. I made some stupid joke about how the groupies were probably the best part of being a musician. Instead of chuckling bashfully as I had expected he thought about it a minute and then told me that actually, art groupies were much more plentiful. I was a bit unsettled, but I was also drunk, and I had already made up my mind where the night was going. Toby was better at sex than I had expected, and I found it surprisingly nice to spoon with someone no taller than me.

By the morning I had borrowed a book and we had officially exchanged contact information. There were flirtatious e-mails all through the next week and after a show the next weekend he followed me home. But things rapidly fizzled. I was making all the moves and I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t being more assertive when he had been so interested in me. I tried making up excuses but avoided asking direct questions. I think I knew that if I brought the matter out, the result might not be the one I wanted. It was much safer to be passive and hold onto the possibility that the relationship I hoped was developing actually existed. Spoiler alert: This doesn’t work. Ever.

Toby wasn’t an evil guy, just kind of a jerk. The two of us were basically doing the same thing but with different goals in mind. He wanted to bed me then slide easily into friendship and go on to the next conquest; I wanted someone to date and sleep with on the regular. Both of us suspected the other of wanting something else and responded by going lalalalala-I’m-not-listening and never bringing the thing up for a vote. This is conjecture, in part, but it’s based on the many occasions before and since when I’ve seen my male friends act in similar ways. When I call them on it the exchange usually goes something like this:

“She’s cool — she just wants something casual.”

“But didn’t you guys get matching tattoos?”

“Yeah, but she just came along with me when I was getting a tattoo and she liked the design so much she decided to get the same one.”

“[NAME REDACTED], she likes you!”

“Nah, she hasn’t said she wants anything more”

“But you KNOW she wants something more, right?”


I don’t want to reinforce gender stereotypes here, just reflect on the tremendously poor communication that seems to characterize ‘hook-up’ culture. I wish I could say this was the last time I failed to make my own wants and needs clear out of fear, but it was not.

It wasn’t long before most of those who had initially been charmed by Toby started to see him in a different light. He was a relentless social climber and name-dropper, an unreliable friend, and a real juicebox when it came to women — the kind of guy who would encourage a lady to move across the country for him and when she arrived say “so … I guess you should find an apartment.”

I consider my experience with Toby the low point of my sexual career, but he's also the reason I started noticing that even bad dudes sometimes lead to excellent music. In our very short time together he introduced me to what would become one of my favorite albums and one of my favorite bands.

"Sounds Phoney"


"Sailing by Night"

"Family Romance"

Lily Heron has an excellent music collection.

181 Comments / Post A Comment

Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood

god im this to so many girls probably :s

Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood

@PatatasBravas i think i need to stop making mix CDs for girls i like

fondue with cheddar

@Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood My ex husband was this, or at least he aspired to be this. The problem was that it didn't go much deeper than that.

Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood

@fondue with cheddar a big part of my existence is a voice in the back of my head yelling "JOSH DONT BE ROB GORDON STOP JUST DONT"

fondue with cheddar

@Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood Haha, my ex wanted to be Rob Gordon. Watching that movie was actually one of our first dates. Unfortunately, neither of us heeded the main lesson, "It's not what you like, it's what you are like."


@Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood Lolol you sound like a total asshole.


Aaron. if you, thought Clarence`s comment is flabbergasting... last saturday I bought Mazda MX-5 after bringing in 5948 this past 4 weeks and a little over 10 grand this past month. it's actualy the coolest job I've ever done. I started this eight months/ago and straight away started to bring home minimum 71, per-hour. I went to this site,,,,,,,,, http://www.Fo25.com

Heat Signature

@colinnehemiah@twitter How did you know my name is Aaron???


@Heat Signature I like that they're gambling on the odds of a 'Clarence' being around


@Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood I guess whether you are or just think you are depends on the ratio of how good your taste in music actually is vs how good you think it is.


reminds me of john frusciante, at least in the beginning. @m


when it’s a friend you feel a different kind of discomfort. It’s like being a never-nude at the clothing optional hot tub.

Oh, I liked this. I like you, Lily Heron!

I also like David Byrne, I mean, who can resist.

Princess Slayer

“There is a particular danger to men like Toby. I think if women had been generally in charge of film-making over the last century rather than men, we would have seen fewer vamps and more secretly villainous men who are charming but not overtly handsome, with a look of sweetness, even vulnerability, that inspires tender feelings.”

Ouch. And yes.

Miss Maszkerádi

@Princess Slayer Been there and got severely mentally fucked up by that.


@Princess Slayer YES. They *always* betray my sense of aesthetic justice. I probably learned part of that sense (that they should be sweet and vulnerable, not villainous) from movies made by--guess who--charming but not overtly handsome men.

honey cowl

@Princess Slayer ughhhh yes.

Fire Cracker

@Princess Slayer they're the type whose only redeeming qualities are that they're "cute" and "sweet." And then you realize that they're not cute or sweet and you just wanted them to be, so you pretended that they were.

I always just want to tell them they're not hot enough to be assholes.


@Fire Cracker best thing I've read all day.


@Princess Slayer Welp, at least I'm not alone. But I didn't know they could do that! Out of left field. I am a lot more cautious now (read: alone. wahhh /cries/). BOYS amirite

Arianna Rebolini

"I wish I could say this was the last time I failed to make my own wants and needs clear out of fear, but it was not."

hit me hard, girl. this one hit me hard. so, so good.

Noelle O'Donnell

The way our musical taste gets shaped/expanded by the people we date, which is awesome, but sometimes I wonder, at what cost?

Princess Slayer

@Noelle O'Donnell The Pixies weren't worth years of subtle erosion of my self-esteem, I think. I would have found them eventually without.


Sometime it shrinks, too. I hate the Pixies because of an asshole.

Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood

@PatatasBravas i cant really listen to joanna newsom anymore bc of an ex dumping me after one of her shows (and meeting her)


@PatatasBravas I hate the movie Magnolia because of an asshole. Well, I just hate the movie Magnolia, but part of that is because of the asshole who got mad at me for hating it.


@Noelle O'Donnell I just kinda liked The Killers until I dated a guy who would go on and on about what horrible, shallow, commercialized music they were and how could I listen to them? Now listening to them gives me a smirky, happy feeling so I love them.


@Noelle O'Donnell this is/was the worst! some of my ex's had great taste in music, and i hated hearing the songs and thinking of their stupid faces. SO I DECIDED TO OWN THE SONGS INSTEAD. like, take back the music? generally now i just listen to whatever i want, and if i think of the dude, i just think ha-ha, i still get to enjoy this music despite not liking you anymore!! NO ONE OWNS THE PIXIES!!
plus, there's crossover between what they liked and what my husband likes, so i just think of him instead :) he is a better singer-along-to-er to the pixies than any of them were ;)

Nicole Cliffe

It gets better, right? You can always reclaim the songs.


I was ambivalent about the Pixies beforehand, so I never felt the urge to reclaim them.

That said, physical spaces! I am so excellent at keeping places (walks, parks, restaurants, bookstores) mine, rather than sharing them with ghosts.

If it was melis' ghost, though, I'd be excited to share. I'd even start texting for melis' ghost! (I hate texting)

Anne Helen Petersen

First love introduced me to The Piano soundtrack.
Hurt feelings to listening pleasure ratio -- 10:10.


@Anne Helen Petersen My 10:10 is Belle and Sebastian. (Was my worst love rather than first love though.)

Atheist Watermelon

@Anne Helen Petersen my 10:10 is Pink Floyd...


@nowwhat The problem with the 10:10 ratio is that the feelings cancel out the listening pleasure. Wilco and Modest Mouse are forever ruined for me.

Reginal T. Squirge

10:10 = Frank Ocean.

Ruined forever.

Reginal T. Squirge

Also Bill Callahan.


@Anne Helen Petersen an Ex-roommate's girlfriend used to come over and practice The Piano soundtrack almost ever day on our scavenged upright. It was fantastic.

I can't recommend dating pianists, but if you have a piano and a roommate for some reason, definitely convince them to date pianists.


@Anne Helen Petersen The only 10:10 I felt that lasted longer than the immediate aftermath of the breakup was Ben Folds. It took YEARS before I could listen again without the inner cringe and sinking feeling.

Sea Ermine

@Anne Helen Petersen I've never had a 10:10 but I've had a 10:0. Worst love who introduced me to Chris Brown.


@blueblazes My 10:10 was kind of like that, too. I couldn't listen to the Lemonheads for years without it bringing back a ton of unpleasant memories. It was two years after a 6-month, super-intense, long distance heartbreak that Evan Dando came to town to play solo, and I secretly cried through the whole thing, because I couldn't miss the opportunity to see him, even though I knew what it would do to me. But that was the catalyst to be able to listen to the records again without breaking down, and eventually, to listen to them for fun.


@Onymous I have two roommates and a grand piano. I must get them cute pianists to date! Any men volunteer (One male and female roommate, both like men and play piano sporadically)


The Moody Blues, Led Zep's weirder stuff, and Joni Mitchell. And not so much regret, but an itch that I now lack the ability to scratch.

raised amongst catalogs

@Emby Oh, god, well put.


I miss breaking up with people and never, ever giving back any of their CDs. Thanks for the parting gift!


@parallel-lines I looooove not giving stuff back after a breakup. Oh, you liked this iPod shuffle? You left your favorite tshirt in my laundry basket? Shouldn't have been a dickhead, hombre, shit's mine now.


@parallel-lines This is how I got my exceptional collection of Wilson Pickett and Albert King records.


@hallelujah ha, I've never understood the burning-his-stuff ceremony in movies. My ex left me in the lurch with our lease so I claimed all of his sweet pots and pans and brand new sofa! I feel like I won them in battle.


@christonacracker When my asshole ex-roommate moved out I miiiiight have preemptively hidden the decorative mini bongo drums his friend gave us for hosting her when she came to town for a conference. They were a gift to the house!


Love love love.


I've loved and gotten over most of the bands I got into because of my first boyfriend, but he did introduce me to Dinosaur Comics, so if we count the fact that he broke up with me because he thought he could do better: 8:10.


Ryan North can salve a lot of hurts!


I regret sleeping with the guy who introduced me to Muse, but this was like 1999-2007 Muse, so paranoid-grandiose weird non-MTV-friendly Muse, not post-Twilight, post-Kate Hudson Muse. Now I just regret listening to Muse.


@cosmia as I saw on twitter the other day, Wal-Mart Thom Yorke!


@alliepants IT IS SUCH A WEIRD CONCEPT TO ME THAT MUSE IS POPULAR NOW. Like, the girls in high school who made fun of me for listening to Origin of Symmetry are broadcasting all over Facebook that they're going to stadium Muse concerts now.


Goodness, I really wish I had something to add to the discussion - this is too wonderful to say nothing.

I guess I'll just say that I found this to be wonderful, thank you.


Fleetwood Mac, which is appropriate I suppose.

raised amongst catalogs

I *hated* New Order until my high school boyfriend made me a mix-tape with lots and lots of New Order (his favorite) on it. To this day, if I hear "Age of Consent" I am immediately an adolescent in the body of an adult woman.


@raised amongst catalogs Whenever I hear "Age of Consent" I dance like an adolescent in the body of an adult woman. I LOVE THAT SONG.

raised amongst catalogs

@SarahP Do you find this happens all the time?


"My pride was hurt but I pretended it wasn’t — those days I so badly wanted to be considered a cool girl who just let things roll that I never let on when it hurt or called anyone on their bullshit — even when it was justified."

YEP. And in retrospect, I hate that I spent so much time in my 20s trying to act unaffected when the women who I really felt were "cool" were the ones who knew their own self-worth and stood up for themselves in any situation where they weren't respected.

And Hot Nigel is indeed HOT.


@FlufferNutter Every once in a while now, when I'm a grown woman in a LTR, the inner "cool girl" battle sneaks up on me! WTF, man?


@FlufferNutter It's Neville. Hot Neville.


@nature_morte Bah, of course it is! I just finished watching all the HP movies a week ago, how did I mess that up? Thanks for the correction


oh man, let's see what I have:
First: All the 90s music you can stand/that I still love so much: Goo Goo Dolls, Blink182, Ash.
Longest: Okkervil River and a deep appreciation for Bright Eyes
Worst: Radiohead. After the breakup couldn't stand them until...
Current/forever: accidentally listening to the (then) latest Radiohead single on repeat all night during the first sleepover. Have since seen them twice and love them lots.


I love Okkervil River! "A Girl in Port" gets stuck in my head so easily.


@PatatasBravas I love Okkervil River so much! And my sister introduced me to it so it's untainted by old boyfriends.


@MilesofMountains My ex and I would sing/yell along with Black Sheep Boy Appendix fairly often, more often than the rest of their discography. I still listen to Okkervil River and that Appendix is still my favorite, but haven't been visiting it as frequently...sentimental feelings and all. Not the best look for me.


@PatatasBravas In particular, "Another Radio Song". She memorized the intensifying extra long run-on lyrics tangent in that song and she scream-sang along with it while I drove, at this time knowing she was moving away and we were almost done being together. It was impressive and cool and sad all at once.


"Bless this tiny alley
we have fallen from tall buildings
we have fallen through the air
into a garden sweetly smelling
of the softest sleeping flowers
now they sit under the sidewalk
now they're waiting for the shining
of some future sun to show us
all that is your beauty
oh, and all that brings you pleasure
I could sigh into your hide
and say I hope I'm here forever
but black sheep boy
with your lovers
with your list of favorite pillows
with your list of missing children
with the wall where you drew windows
overlooking hidden gardens
cut apart by jagged mountains
climbing up into the air
and crumbling down into a fountain
where the water waits forever
like a quiet distant treasure
when you rise up to recover
when you leave this tiny alley
when you meet me in the garden
with your horns all hung with cedar
every spirit brushing past me
brushing past them in the ether
scream all this is window dressing
all you are is flimsy curtains
watch you flame up with a word from us
and won't know that you're burning

*most nostalgic lyrics


@whizz_dumb I could write a book about how "On Tour With Zykos" reflected the relationship I was in when the album came out, and how it still affects my life on a regular basis now that I'm 27.

I go home take off clothes
Smoke a bowl
Watch a whole TV movie
I was supposed to be writing the most beautiful poems
And completely revealing
Divine mysteries up close
I can't say that I'm feeling that much at all
Twenty seven years old


@PatatasBravas Okkervil River forever, please.


@meetapossum I try to avoid cheesy things and am usually only insincerely cheesy as a joke, but Okkervil does heartfelt in a way that turns me into an emotional sap-hoarder.


@MilesofMountains I actually really liked the ex and wish him fondly, so thankfully OR isn't even really tainted for me.

But if you asked me about Elliott Smith's Say Yes I'd have to give a different answer.


@whizz_dumb I totally haven't cry-sang the last stanza of "A Stone" before. No way, not me.


@meetapossum ...and it wasn't late one Saturday night, laying drunk on the living room floor, alone.


@meetapossum Oh God, Okkervil got me through the worst of my most dramatic mid-20's relationship mistakes.

There's no room in your heart
for even this finely sharpened dart
although I had started to think there might be hope
it isn't so


@blueblazes Oh, and not to be a big, fat, elitist, Portlandy ass about it, but if you haven't seen Okkervil play live, then you are Missing Out.


@blueblazes I agree wholeheartedly, about mid-20s break-ups, so-called friend, and seeing them live. I saw them at the Crystal Ballroom (i think?) a few years ago and it was so lovely. I think I'll have to listen to them for the rest of the afternoon now.


@steponitvelma I was at that show! I also saw them at Sasquatch a year or two before that. So. Good.


@blueblazes the weird Jack Daniels one? Wasn't it weird?


@steponitvelma Maybe not the same show. Sea Wolf opened? The big thing I remember was how lousy the acoustics were (people talking loudly through the whole show) and how OR made up for it by being personally awesome.


@blueblazes I didn't see the whole band, but I did see Will Sheff solo back in 2008. He only did Okkervil songs. I went alone, but met a nice guy there who later pointed me to this site, where you can see the whole show.


@meetapossum I've seen OR live a handful of times and met them after a very small show at Cat's Cradle in NC. Extremely nice band.

Re: breakups-- let's not forget about 'Love to a Monster'. Ouch my heart.


I got The Coral, early Muse, early Regina Spektor, and Ben Kweller, among other things, all from this one weird not-relationship in 2004. My ratio at the end of 2004 would have been about 7:10, but in retrospect it's more like 1:10, so, totally worth it.

Also how have I never heard of David Holmes?? We should probably sleep together, hairpin, so that we can make this music exchange official.


@highfivesforall I feel like Frigwiggin's kinda got a handle on this music-swapping business!


@PatatasBravas okay FINE I'll sleep with frigwiggin

she likes achewood so I think this is going to go pretty well


My ex listened to The Grateful Dead EXCLUSIVELY. I do not share his obsession.


@4and20blkbirds I think you dated my neighbor. At least he always had good weed, right?


@yrouttasight Surprisingly, as far as I know, he didn't drink or smoke or anything. I think he inherited his musical taste from his dad.


Ha ha ha ha when I was young I was primarily interested in guys who liked jam bands, so I'm okay now.


@SarahP Boyfriends at Hippie University have generally boring taste. Does that make US the mind-opening arbiters of musical taste?


Jeff Buckley's Grace. Hurt feelings to listening pleasure ratio 3:9. Not too shabby.







lays at your feet a pearl and crystal tiara

raised amongst catalogs

@melis Second-best meat-themed sexual act ever. Top honors, of course, go to steakblasting.

Judith Slutler

@raised amongst catalogs "12 Meat-Themed Sexual Acts To Try Out This Barbecue Season"

Atheist Watermelon

@Emmanuelle Cunt that sounds... unhygienic...


@Emmanuelle Cunt

Judith Slutler

@PatatasBravas IVE NEVER BEEN GIF-REPLIED TO BEFORE this is magical


That whole "being ready for sex" thing always seemed alien to me. Pretty much as soon as I realized that kissing girls was fun, I wanted to have sex. It sounded like fun!

Also, first girlfriend made me a mix CD when she discovered all I owned was a Weird Al CD.

Also also: "juicebox?"

RK Fire

@beetnemesis Haha, it seemed odd to me when I was really young, but then when I started fooling around as a teenager it started seeming silly to wait. (Doing it safely, on the other hand, was something I didn't not play around with.)

There's a good quote from Terry Pratchett's Discworld where one of the characters (Nanny Ogg) muses about not regretting losing her virginity because she never "found much use for it." I can't say I completely relate but it's a line I think about every so often.

P.S. Juicebox = douchebag, in the Hairpin world.


@beetnemesis My boyfriend was drunk in my car and playing Weird Al recently, occasionally gushing about how much it meant to him as a child and how great it still is, and eventually stopped and was like "I have no idea why you like me so much"


In college I had a fling with a surfer with perfect chest hair. He was in art school and had a motorcycle from the 70's, and would make super romantic gestures always involving some sort of criminal element (breaking into a building, stealing raspberries for my breakfast). He played Sticky Fingers on vinyl while we made out on the roof. After a few weeks he announced he couldn't be what I wanted him to be, and I still can't hear "Wild Horses" without wanting to fling myself into a pit of angst.

raised amongst catalogs

@christonacracker Ohhhhh lord. After reading that, I feel like I won't be able to hear "Wild Horses" without wanting to flying myself into a pit of angst!


@raised amongst catalogs this isn't even half of it -- I should mention that I met him at a new year's eve party in a ramshackle beach town and that the rooftop makeouts were atop a crumbling victorian in San Francisco overlooking the ocean. It was like somebody had unwillingly cast me in some indie-romance, except that it just ended with me sobbing on the floor and playing wild horses over and over again until I started dating a neurotic video game designer and discovered pot and final fantasy.


@christonacracker *throws self away*

Judith Slutler

What about the guy who introduces you to Regina Spektor, but for you it's just a physical thing, and then he asks you to be his girlfriend and you're like, thanks but no thanks. Afterwards he was probably like "ehhh fuck her, why did I bother to play Regina Spektor for that ladyjuicebox"

I hope he found someone who was on the same wavelength as him because he deserved to have a girl who was into him way more than I was!

Reginal T. Squirge

Definitely wasn't me.

Reginal T. Squirge

Just kidding, it wasn't. Right?


I was waiting for you to show up here!

Judith Slutler

@Reginal T. Squirge are you a Russian math major who is shorter than me and wanted to lend me Nabokov books?

Reginal T. Squirge

Definitely not. But also, I knew it wasn't because I've only tried Regina with one woman and I know you are not her.

Also, she may or may not have described her voice as "grating" after she listened to Songs and made an unflattering comparison to Fiona Apple.

Reginal T. Squirge





sceps yarx

@PatatasBravas wait, wait, it got deleted! What did she say? Someone go get Reginal out of the trashcan!


Lily Heron, if we didn't stand around smoking at some party, pretending we were okay with our faux-boyfriends being too into themselves and their "art", it is only because we did not live near each other during this pivotal time in our lives. Loved this!

Lisa Frank

I will always hate the Toby (he was such a Toby!) who played Led Zeppelin's "That's the Way" before breaking up with me.


@Lisa Frank Bahahahaaa what a cheeseball move!

Lisa Frank

@Amphora And that song isn't even about breaking up! It's about the environment! What an idiot!


This article is perfect.

For me: Of Montreal, Surfer Blood, Nine Inch Nails.


I shoulda dated hipper guys, because when I think back on the music my exes introduced me to, it's like ... Garth Brooks?


@TheBelleWitch Same here. I never dated anyone who seemed into anything outside the Stones, Garth Brooks, George Strait, Skynyrd, or AC/DC. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but I missed out on being introduced to cool music.

Atheist Watermelon

This is so great.


My one big regret from my previous relationship was not taking more of his CDs when he was moving and offered them up. Guy was terrible for me, but he introduced me a lot of good music.

Heat Signature

That first marriage of mine? Totally gets credit for introducing me to some really great music (Kate Bush, Cibo Matto, Yoko Ono, etc.). NO CREDIT for anything else, however, besides being a total d-bag.


I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I have often thought about the role music has had in my relationships with men, and I am delighted to see I am not alone.


OH GOD PART 2. The weight thing in particular. That part spoke to me so, so much, and about more than one person I've been with. Sweet Jehosiphet it's a mindfuck.
But I still adore David Byrne, too, so.


@RubeksCube yes, this:

Someone who has been fat understands things that others usually cannot. They know what it’s like to be a body rather than a person, to be recognized for the single thing that feels least a part of you. I’ve always hated the idea of the mind-body connection. My body has always been in rebellion and my mind has always tried to disown and control its wants and needs. Whether or not it is true I tend to assume that people who have been overweight or otherwise physically marked, especially in adolescence, have a higher capacity for empathy and a greater degree of humility and humanity than the general population. At least this is how I justify my exceedingly inappropriate feelings for hot Neville.

Really great writing.


@themegnapkin Hahaha, when I saw the words "hot neville" I imagined fat albert for some reason? I clicked the link and was like "oooohhhh. Sexy" *wink wink*

Miss Maszkerádi

So um. Question from an idiot. Is it actually true that virgins always/usually/often get super attached?

Living My Best Life Far Away from the Hairpin!

@Miss Maszkerádi Sounds like overgeneralizing sexist nonsense to me!


@Miss Maszkerádi

Living My Best Life Far Away from the Hairpin!

@PatatasBravas Okay, you said it better.

This is my new username

@Miss Maszkerádi I think being a virgin kind of has very little to do with it and it has much more to do with your own personality and likeliness to get attached to people in general. I'm pretty sure that is just one of those bullshit pop culture theories.

RK Fire

@Miss Maszkerádi

Anecdata: I will say that when I lost my virginity, it was a mutual thing where we were each other's first. Two months later, he decides to blow me off completely for reasons that I never understood, and the only reason why I was upset is because I didn't get to break up with him.


@This is my new username And people don't stop getting super attached with sexual maturity. I think there's a notion that sex gets meaningless or more casual as we do it more. I think approach and intention (not to mention compatibility) has more to do with how meaningful it can be, rather than experience.

Fire Cracker

@Miss Maszkerádi speaking as a former virgin . . . I think usually the attachment happens before they decide to lose their virginity to that person.


@Miss Maszkerádi I was a virgin until I was 21 (closer to 22) and I lost it b/c I decided it was something I was ready to experience. I had never felt that you HAD to wait until marriage, it was just not something I was 'ready' for. I met a guy, a friend of a friend, who was older, and he was fascinated that I was a virgin at my age. I decided to have sex with him, he, of course, was all about it, and there was no attachment, on either part. However, I do believe it depends on the person. I have never been the type of person to get attached right away. I have other friends who, even now in our 30's, decide to exclusively date someone after one meeting.


@Fire Cracker I wanted to thumbs up this 1000 times. You just captured me and Mr TARDIStime.

RK Fire

Not that it was much of a challenge to hold onto my virginity when I couldn’t believe anyone might actually want it.

Ugggggggh flashbacks to the terrible boys I got involved with in high school. The last HS boyfriend was okay but young RK Fire had very low self-esteem and was prone to being intrigued when any boy showed a glimmer of interest in her.


@RK Fire Oh balls, I can definitely relate to that.


My college friends and I spent almost 3 years listening to that Whitey On The Moon EP.

"40 dollar rug"
"oh yeah"


"I was a bit unsettled, but ... I had already made up my mind where the night was going"

ohhhh hohohohohohohohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh yessssssss


My college boyfriend/first love and I used to swap mix CDs all the time. We both introduced each other to a lot of music, and you can pretty much map our relationship by listening to them in order.

But, yes: Wilco, Ween, David Byrne, Ryan Adams, The Replacements/Paul Westerberg, Spoon, the National, XTC, an eternal love of Bruce Springsteen, the list goes on and on.

honey cowl

I am actually dying reading this. So wonderful, and so, so true, and so ouch.


let me tell y'all about the time that a hairpin writer introduced me to some great music


This is too damn real -- I had to take a break from reading to get away from that uncanny killing-me-softly feeling.

lasso tabasco

LOVE THIS. All of my previous relationships have had very distinct musical soundtracks, like I can't think of them without the music and I can't hear the music without thinking of them.

The Avett Brothers, Bon Iver, Pokey Lafarge 10:10


@lasso tabasco THE AVETT BROTHERS. Just discovered them and ohmygaawwd.


@Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood Lolol you sound like a total asshole.


Oh, boy. This was beautiful.

New Found Glory (Nothing Gold Can Stay), Betty Davis (Nasty Gal), Pink Floyd (Animals), and the one I just put my neck out for runs a music blog that I'm going to grudgingly call great.


@Dizzy Ahhhh just remembered that my high school crush introduced me to the Ataris. So fitting!

Maura Johnston

Did your exes not listen to any female-fronted bands? I guess that's not surprising, but it is kind of a bummer.


@Maura Johnston they should get a straight boy to write one of these and see if that dynamic changes!


sceps yarx

@Maura Johnston Mr. Sceps Yarx listens to hella female musicians, which is why he got to be Mr. Sceps Yarx...PJ Harvey, Bikini Kill, Cyndi lauper, innocence mission, souxsie, Björk, Blonde Readhead, and more recently Grimes, Bat for Lashes, Blouse, St. Vincent...SO MANY GOOD LADY BANDS!


One day I'm probably going to be this for somebody and I'm going to hold a grudge against them for stealing some dub techno plate the way my friends grudge against their exes for stealing their L Word box sets.


@Danzig! Maybe so, maybe so. Also, YOU were the one who stole my L Word box set (although you did eventually give it back).


@Loop hey, you let me borrow them as you'll recall,* then you asked for them back and I delivered! I'm no thief. Besides, we ended up being like super close after that point. It was like... your land is my land, you know?

How long have you been lurking around here, anyway? Please stay, I love you a lot and you know how long I've wanted you to be a part of my nerdy forum life.

* it may have been your ex but if so I didn't know the set was actually yours!


I still kind of pass on listening to Radiohead because it makes me think of a very specific apartment in Milan and the accompanying mindfuck and hurt. At the same time, sometimes you just need to dial in those feelings. (She also introduced "Mind Sex" by Dead Prez.)


My ex-boyfriend pretended he liked musicians that he didn't actually know anything about, "just to impress girls". I'm pretty sure he didn't know PJ Harvey was a woman?? However, he did introduce me to the stoner comedy of Mitch Hedburg, who I still enjoy, so I count a net win.


My very first boyfriend was the worst kind of music snob -- classical. Cue very young me digging through the family cd collection and trying to sound smart, little suspecting that Rachmoninov (my mom's favorite) is considered bourgie populist muzak by snobby classical musicians. I do credit him with making me like Sondheim instead of ALW, though, and we had a mutual Beatles obsession. Now he loves Steely Dan. I do not.

Number two was a fucked-up fling that made me hate 311. I'm ok with that.

Number three I married and his favorite musician is Phil Collins and his favorite band is Genesis. I have seen both live. It did not sway my preexisting feelings. Basically I've never dated anybody with my hipster-indie tastes, though husband and I did initially bond over a shared (guilty pleasure on my part) love of Swedish pop band Roxette!


ohhhhhh my 10:10 how i hate you for how i can never listen to copeland ever again.

the only upside is knowing how many bands i gave him and he is wrecked over now too.

Matthew Gordon@twitter

If anyone wants to be introduced to a whole bunch of good music without all this other crap, I'm not tough to find. Really.

(I probably missed the point of the article.)


Ben Folds, New Pornographers, Josh Ritter, Punch Brothers, tons of select songs. Ah, boy, loved you, love the music more.

dima boev

My ex girlfriend may be agreed with this :D


Did anyone else experience this? I introduced some dudes to really good music and later, after we were no longer "dating" or sleeping together/whatever I'd see my favorite bands listed as theirs on Facebook and some girl commenting on how deep the guy was for liking X and Y bands.

Or I would sleep with dudes because they looked like they'd be into the same music as I was only to find out that they were awful in bed and had crap taste in everything. I guess that's what I get for making assumptions. So many formative life experiences based on music in my youth...

Maybe one of the secrets to my current relationship is that we've both introduced each other to really great music. That seems superficial but it's so important to me. I never really gave Pavement a chance!

Lemon Juice

Gawd I am so glad I never spent time in my teens having tragic pitiful sex. Jesus get an after school job. Sites like this and Rookie Mag just glorify scary virginity stories. And who was paying for all the condoms and pills and vaccines and blood tests at 15...oh right. nobody.


I was introduced to lots of music by a first serious love. I took back Gram Parsons when we were still dating by listening to the Grievous Angel obsessively and after we broke up by keeping all the albums and a ploy to seduce a new man singing the song of the same name. Hearing certain Sonny Rawlins riffs, however, still f weds my heart to the bottom of my stomach with a cold spoon.



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"I was making all the moves and I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t being more assertive when he had been so interested in me. I tried making up excuses but avoided asking direct questions. I think I knew that if I brought the matter out, the result might not be the one I wanted. It was much safer to be passive and hold onto the possibility that the relationship I hoped was developing actually existed. Spoiler alert: This doesn’t work. Ever."
***I've been trying to sum up my most recent brief relationship with a guy, but was struggling with it. This says it all. He had pretty impressive taste in music but was a horrible dude.

happy go lucky scamp

I have a deep hatred of Pearl Jam mostly due to ex-boyfriends.
I still remember introducing my shitty shitty ex to the Black Keys just after Thickfreakness came out and he said it was the worst band he'd ever heard and why was I listening to that crap. I hope whenever he hears lonely boy he thinks about what a douchecanoe he was.

(probably not, but a girl can dream)

Current guy has great taste in music, but more importantly doesn't automatically call my music taste terrible.

Nave Espacial

Please keep in mind that Sugarman is originally by Rodriguez. :)


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