There’s that moment. When you’re outside, digging around in your car, looking for your lost keys, and you’re stoned. Because you’re always stoned, now. There’s work, then there’s stoned. But that’s an aside— to be addressed later. And you’re digging around your car, trying to find your keys so for once, you can just be the person who has their shit together, you can just be the person who knows where their keys are and makes the time to look for them when they’re lost, and everything is always lost, including this sentence, because, apparently, this is going to be some stream of consciousness shit?
No. You’re better than that. Get your shit together.
So you’re in your car, digging around for the keys, and you’re wearing headphones. You’re wearing headphones because the little list you made for yourself told you to put on headphones.
But it’s not divine intervention. (What is this? Beat poetry? Who do you think you are, Charles Fucking Bukowski?) It’s you, it’s a gift from you to you, letting you feel this moment. Letting you take a moment to stop denying everything you’ve been denying.
But, I mean...not for, like, a long time. It’s not like you’ve been getting all headshots in this war to pretend you’re better than this shit. The last time you let yourself think about it was all of maybe four hours ago. So maybe don’t pat yourself on the back too much. You’re pitiful, you’re never going to find your keys, and you’re stoned. You’re always stoned.
And you’re listening to this same song on repeat to preserve the mood, even though it keeps wanting to go to the next song in this playlist.
The “Not Pretty Enough” playlist. I shit you not. This is how fucking pitiful I am, for any of you out there who were about to mistake me for Bukowski.
I mean, maybe that's not the right comparison, to demonstrate that I'm not cool. Maybe "cool" is a guy reading a book of Bukowski through this Ferris Bueller sunglasses at a coffee shop on a San Diego beach. That’s...that’s what’s cool about Bukowski, you know. But I get the sense that the guy himself was probably pretty fucking pitiful in his own way, just not in the Kasey Chambers way. Which, honestly, her expression of pain, however pop-y, is just as valid. Honestly, this assumption that Bukowski is necessarily cooler just feels like sexism.
Fuck you, Bukowski. You fucking misogynist.
For the record, the first song, the song that started it all, was not “Not Pretty Enough.” That is actually the second song in the playlist of the same name. The third, which is currently playing, is “Silver Spring” by Fleetwood Mac.
Which is fantastic. But I’m never gonna get this shit written if I don’t go back to looping that first song.
When you were here before...
And god, now it’s on again, now you’re falling back into that moment. That moment when, from the driver’s seat of your car, you listen to the song and stare out towards your house, past the spot in the driveway where you and he sat last week.
Couldn’t look you in the eye...
You sat in his car, stoned (you’re always stoned) and listened to music. It was the middle of the night, and he was driving you home, and now he was singing.
You’re just like an angel...
He asked you to come out and last minute on a Saturday night, and you dropped everything to meet him. And you stayed out too late even though he wasn’t in a great mood, and you drank too much, and he offered to drive you home.
Your skin makes me cry...
And now you’re sitting together, stoned, listening to music, and he starts to sing, and he’s so self conscious, and he’s so beautiful, and you can’t remember the last time you felt like this. Except that was then, not now. Now you’re sitting in a dirty car, which may or may not contain your keys, and you’re staring over at the spot where the car was parked Saturday night. Sunday morning.
You float like a feather...
You’re staring at that spot, and you’re listening to that song, and you’re in that moment. And on one level, you can’t stop thinking about him, you never stop thinking about him, you’re always stoned. But on another level, you’re just thinking of how you, in this moment, would be the perfect character for a female-directed indie movie with vaguely coming-of-age themes.
In a beautiful world...
Will our heroine come to accept herself? Will she triumph over her crippling self-doubt and addiction to love and rejection? Or will the plot swerve towards some weird, meta resolution?
I wish I were special...
Will she realize that for all her doubt, for all her self-consciousness, for all her need to vindicate herself by getting him to look at her, finally, to look at her, she was finding her way through out all along? Will she realize that for all the fake, desperate charade she puts on for him— the pounds lost, the lines written, the show staged— it is here where she finds her true self?
You’re so fucking special...
Is it here, where she lays herself bare to the world, where she opens up and looks you dead in the eye and says, this, THIS is what I am...is is here that she finds redemption? Is it you, the reader, the anonymous masses who can delve into this and never have to admit that you did...are you the ones who will accept me fully for what I am, and finally, finally let me believe in myself, and stop getting stoned all the time, and find my keys, and stop looping to this damn song?
But I’m a creep.
I’m a weirdo.
What the hell am I doing here?
I don’t belong here.
...on the other hand, I didn’t fucking plan that, but that worked out crazy well. It’s Bukowski-level cool, at least. Whatever that is.
It’s time to stop this looping. It’s time to get my shit together. It’s time to find my keys and do the other shit on my list, and stop picturing this whole thing in my head some kind of pretentious but endearing (?) short film, with every word I write as a voiceover to the image of the disaffected face, staring out of the car window.
Weird, though. I don’t think it’s even my voice.
In the film version, in the story where I fight this moment, and this song, and the stone bearing down on top of me— I’m always stoned— will I play myself?
No. But why not?
Am I not pretty enough?
Is my heart too broken?
Do I cry too much?
Am I too outspoken?
On with it.