“Fell In Love At 22” takes a contemplative pace as is needed for this stroll down memory lane, a stroll that you just wish would last a little longer. We are all suckers for nostalgia around here. I know you know what I’m talking about. Perhaps we want to stay here longer in these memories because we are selectively picking only the good memories to revisit. We can tell that is the case here because of how gentle the song sounds. If we actually listen to songs JM wrote during this lauded age, we see that things weren’t so gentle at the time.
This song uses a different set of tactics than what we have seen in most of the sf59 songs up to this point. The guitar’s role and importance have switched; it now exists to provide accents and punctuation, a bit like guitars in reggae music. The guitar isn’t the work horse here. JM allows the bass, keys and vocals to carry the melody and harmonies. The piano and synth parts weave in an out of each other. The backing vocals come in like a Greek chorus to remind us why these rememberances are important – this is our life, our old times.
Fell in love at 22
With a girl that’s close to you
Find a job and find a life
No more long days, longer nights
With your girl and family too
Playing card games in the room
I never fell in love at 22, but I did fall in love at 24. It was my first experience with falling in love. I was thinking about this the other day when I looked out my bedroom window and saw the sun reflecting off the green leaves of the forest. It reminded me of the way the sun shown down on the southern Appalachian mountains I drove past as I was heading toward where my love lived at the time. The summer seemed to have so much promise; the light bouncing off all the beauty that surrounded me confirmed it.
I had been friends with this love of mine for years. We met when I was a freshman in college and I started my work study assignment in his science department. I knew that he wanted us to be more then, but I was not ready yet. Still though, we had a lot of fun. Being the rogue that I am, I installed illegal game console emulators on the department’s computers and we played many 8-bit Nintendo games in between classes. Our gaming wasn’t limited to the illegal variety either; we played many card games as well. He taught me how to play gin rummy. He always played any card he could as soon as he could. I hoarded my cards, quietly shifting them in my hand. I could see in his eyes the pride that he felt thinking he was doing so well at beating me. He would temper this pride with well-meaning statements about how I was just learning the game and I would get better. I smirked as I laid down my entire hand of perfectly matched cards at once. He sat blinking in disbelief. It took a few seconds for him to realize what had just happened to him.
We remained friends like this for years. Eventually I graduated from college and he moved down south to pursue his doctorate. We would chat by computer in the evenings. After awhile I realized that chatting with him was my favorite part of the day. He did a semi-autobiographical web comic with a modest following which we discussed regularly. There were always new video games to discuss. When we weren’t talking about these things, I was busy undermining his belief in a world that could be easily understood. He was a hard scientist and I was a psychologist with a side fling with philosophy. I flexed my epistemological muscles enough to make him realize that the scientific method is just a theory and that just because a thing can be measured doesn’t mean that its measurement is all that it is.
This is our life, our old times…
When we started dating, he made a comic character based on me named “Milli Graham” (based on Stanley Milgrim whose experiments on social conformity and perceived authority revealed how easy it is to get a person to kill another). Milli was a psychology student who ran into his character at the school library. She was part love interest and part foil. Milli was sarcastic and challenging. She always wore head scarves (a style I maintain to this day). Anytime his character would state something as obvious according to science, Milli always pointed out that things were not so obvious as they appear. She was also the only character who could beat his character at Tetris. I am not that good at Tetris myself, but he always took Tetris skills as the highest form of achievement so I took the fact that my character could beat his as the highest of compliments. The readers of the comic fell in love with Milli and would comment in the forums about how they wished they could meet a girl like that.
The love affair was charged and a lot of fun. I always knew it was temporary though. There was nothing wrong with the guy at all; I just knew that we were not destined to be together for all time. I said as much one day, not realizing the bomb that I was dropping on him. He sat blinking in disbelief. It took more than a few seconds for him to realize what had just happened to him. It took some time for me to realize it too. I would have thought what I said was obvious. I did not realize that he would interpret this proclamation as evidence that he was not good enough. That wasn’t a part of my thinking at all. I have since spent time working on anticipating how the things I say might actually be interpreted. It’s taken a lot of work to learn that.
The relationship in the comic played out much like it did in real life. The pair had a perfect day together until Milli blurts out that the relationship won’t last in the third panel. The fallout continued to be incorporated into the story arc of the comic. The people on the forums who loved Milli quickly turned on her, blasting her for her insensitivity. It was illuminating for me to watch this unfold but also perplexing. Milli was always a foil from the beginning. Didn’t they know that doing the unanticipated was always a part of her character?
Now that John is 42
With a family like you
With a job that led him down
Don’t you know I led him round?
It’s funny, even after the fallout of the breakup, I would still post “Happy Birthday John” on his birthday. His birthday is coming up soon and he’s probably about 42. I hope his life is better than this verse suggests. I don’t know. It’s hard being a scientist in this post-truth world.
Although he may have felt dismayed at the time that I called the relationship temporary, he may have cause to appreciate my prescient proclamation since. He got married a few years later. They had kids and a house, all the things that he wanted and all the things that I could not bear to be tied down by. He always did play his cards as soon as he could. As for me, I’m still holding onto my hand, waiting for the day that I can lay all my perfectly matched cards down at once.