I stopped in at a pawn shop the other night, something I do with some small amount of regularity. In fact it's the main reason I don't currently have an active membership at Blockbuster; the pawn shop down the street from me has an insanely huge collection of DVDs, and all of them for only a dollar more than the average rental price. Why rent them when I can buy them for almost the same price, and have a copy to keep if I like it? On this particular trip I was looking through the CD selection, which is something I don't often do. Most of the CDs are bargain bin, one hit wonders. Quite a few Reader's Digest compilations as well. I was pretty much looking through the CDs more out of boredom than the hope that I would find something worthwhile. For the most part I was correct, there were more than a few CDs by forgotten bands in the Boyz II Men mold. However something did catch my eye; a completely undecorated recordable CD, in a plain white sleeve with only the handwritten words 'Music From Lisa' on it. This was very tempting.
The homemade mix CD(or to a greater degree, the mixtape) holds a special allure to me. As soon as I got my first CD player I was making mixtapes for friends(despite having only 6 CDs to start with). A couple of years at the college station coincided with my entrance into the world of mix CDs, and while a disc doesn't have the same tactile sense, or indeed the same feel of love and labor, it has proven a boon to my habit of pouring my feelings onto a disc with another person's words. It seemed, when I first saw/read it, that High Fidelity had been written about me. Countless discs and tapes are floating around somewhere, and if they are ever collected they will serve as a perfect document of my attitude at any given moment of my life, and my feelings towards the women in my life. So this nondescript disc, with no indication at all what would be on it, was too much to ignore. Who was Lisa? What type of music did she feel expressed her feelings? Who had the music been intended for, and why had he been so callous as to toss out such an intimate expression of Lisa's emotions? Only one of my questions would be answered.
Lisa loves country music.
As I put the disc in my car stereo, after haggling the price down to 50 cents(it was tempting, but I don't think I would have paid the $3 asking price for a blank CD), Unknown Song #1 came out of the speakers. A song I recognized as 'country', although mainly because that's what this music is classified as these days. This isn't Johnny Cash or Hank Williams, this is music made by people who's musical heroes are Garth Brooks and Billy Ray Cyrus. Still, the song was pleasant, and the experience was striking enough that I instantly loved it. The following tracks were not nearly as enjoyable, but I was smitten by Lisa's opening shot, a melancholy song full of yearning for a far off, better place, and so I continued listening and let the flaws pass me by. In fact, a Morphine song about 4 tracks in threw me over the edge. However, another 10 songs of mediocre-to-shitty country songs began to grate on me, and I realized that Lisa and I were going through all the stages of a relationship, despite having never met.
First off, we 'met' in a striking manner. It may not have been epic, but it wasn't without it's romance. A spur of the moment decision, a lark, and something beautiful is born. At first it was amazing, with the romance and beauty blinding me to whatever flaws existed as we got to know each other. I was too amazed by all the new things I was discovering to realize we were doomed from the start. You see, we all grow up with sitcoms and romantic comedy films that lead us to believe in an unattainable idea of love. We forget that, outside of the fact that these are actors, these people don't spend every day together for extended periods of time. They have commercial breaks, and maybe an hour or two of actual interaction. So of course the relationship seems perfect; they never have time to go from 'getting to know you' to 'know you, hate your guts' or even 'know you, still love you, want some space', which is where the majority of real relationships end up. As I spent more time with Lisa, I began to lose interest.
Jello Biafra and Mojo Nixon showed up with a song off of Prairie Home Invasion around track 11 or so, and that was enough to brighten the outlook considerably. However, it was 'Are You Drinkin' with Me Jesus?' which was probably put on as a novelty song, meaning the deeper socio-political messages of that album could have been lost on Lisa. I'd already reached the point in our relationship where I was viewing things that I would normally see as endearing as obnoxious.
We were not going to last. Life is not like a sitcom. I took to skipping the songs after the first ten seconds or so, losing faith that I would find anything worthwhile. And then, on the last track(21), Rick Miller blasted out of my car stereo speakers and asked me to eat another Oatmeal Pie. A Southern Culture on the Skids track! Anyone with enough taste to end a CD with a SCOTS track, no matter how 'trivial', has to be a worthwhile human being. That Jello Biafra and Mojo Nixon song wasn't a fluke! Lisa did have great taste! All was forgiven, and I listened happily until pulling into my driveway and cutting off the final chords of Camel Walk.
Maybe life is like a sitcom sometimes.