I’m lying on Shawn’s living-room floor with my feet up on his coffee table. It’s late, after 1 a.m. Shawn is on the floor, too, facing the opposite direction, a couple of empty beer bottles and a full ashtray between us.
It’s 1998. We’ve been working together at Sub City for a while. I’m not really sure how our friendship started – maybe it was when I brought my Prince CD into work – but lately it’s become a thing for us to hang out and listen to music.
Shawn puts in Violent Femmes and “Gone Daddy Gone” starts to play.
“Ok, this might make me sound like a weirdo, but did you ever watch the show ‘Sex in the 90’s’ on MTV?”
Shawn laughs. “Yeah.”
“Well, the only reason I know this song is because it’s in one of the episodes. ‘Love Sucks.’ Remember that one?”
Shawn sits up. “Yes! The guy from Sebadoh was in it. Lou Barlow.”
“Right! He was the guy in the Joy Division t-shirt. He was in Sebadoh? Wait, who’s Sebadoh?”
This might possibly be the dorkiest conversation I’ve ever had, but I’m loving it. Usually I have to dial down the dweeb. But Shawn gets it. He’s like me. He’s into a lot of the same music and remembers all the same dumb crap on TV.
He also has a girlfriend. She’s in the Peace Corps in Nicaragua.
I should go home. But then “Add it Up” comes on and we each light another cigarette.
“Oh my god.You know in Realty Bites Ethan Hawke has a band…”
“Hey That’s My Bike?”
“Yes! They sing this song in the movie. I always thought Ethan Hawke wrote it. I had no idea it was a real song.”
Shawn almost spits out his beer. “You thought a Violent Femmes song was an Ethan Hawke original? That’s awesome.”
This is awesome, just hanging out with Shawn. He tells me about how he went to a gifted-and-talented camp after ninth grade and his roommate introduced him to the Violent Femmes. Like R.E.M. for me, it was the first band that made him realize there was something out there other than Top 40.
We’re dating each other. We have been all summer. This whole thing – us sitting on his floor, playing DJ and telling each other our stories – is us dating. We just don’t know it yet.
His girlfriend will be coming back from the Peace Corps soon. I should leave. But “Blister in the Sun” comes on so I stay for one more cigarette.
Bonus Tracks: “Add It Up,” (Explicit), “Blister in the Sun” Violent Femmes