M_____ and I are drinking beers on my rooftop. It’s a break during band practice.
“I’m working on a new song called ‘The Average American Male.’ It’s basically about how I have never been in love.”
“How old are you?”
“How have you never been in love?”
“I dunno. I just haven’t. Have you?”
“I’ve been in love like 15 times.”
“But how do you define ‘in love’?
“You can’t really define it. You just know it.”
“That sounds a little vague for me.”
“We need to talk about this. If you have gone this long without being in love, you have problems.”
“I mean, I love my family. I love my friends. But romantic love—nada. I have dated girls. I have liked a few girls a lot. But I could never really say ‘I love you’ with any conviction. I always felt like a phony. I guess that’s why I usually break up with someone. Maybe I have like Aspergers or something.”
“I don’t think you have Assburgers.”
“I just read this book called ‘The Average American Male’—it was like the inspiration for the song. And it’s about this guy who has lots of sex with women and looks at porn a lot, but never really loves the women he’s with. It got me thinking—maybe this problem with love is, like, a pretty common problem for American males.”
“I once watched this interview with David Foster Wallace, the writer, and he was talking about how his grandparents, by the time they were teenagers, had seen a pretty limited number of kisses—maybe their parents, maybe a couple movies. A kiss was kind of a rare thing. But how our generation, with TV and the internet, by the time we are teenagers, have seen tens of thousands of kisses, and probably sex too. And so, for us, a kiss is not rare. It’s almost cliché. When I think about kissing and romantic love, I automatically think of some fucking movie. It’s not that interesting or rare or beautiful.”
“Yeah. It’s really sad. Maybe the problem is the media.”
“But that is also kind of cliché—blaming things on the media.”
“Yeah. Everything is cliché.”
We drink our beers and watch a seagull fly overhead.
“How do seagulls get here? We’re pretty far inland.”