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Thursday, February 14, 2008



Back in high school my girlfriends and I talked quite often about V-day. To us, the term did not mean Valentine's Day, a holiday pretty nondescript without paychecks or driver's licenses. To us, V-day meant Vagina-Day. Or the Day (capital D) marking the first time our mothers forced us to visit the OB/GYN for our... girly appointment.

To us, V-Day may as well have been D-Day.

Obviously that's not the kind of V-Day this post is about. But I figured I would do my best to make you all feel good and awkward in preparation for what's to come.

Because what's to come is pretty damn awkward.

Much like V-Day, Valentine's Day has never been one of my favorite holidays. Super-emo crushes and mix-tapes, on the other hand? OH SO TOTALLY MY SCENE.

Now let me take you back to a time I like to call 2003, or more affectionately, sophomore year. I was living in the backwoods of Maine, studying writing, selling merch for a pop-punk band called gocasual, and in my spare time, throwing pebbles at the lead singer's window so he could buzz me in to hang out.

Dude, whatever, our dorm security was tight.

And I may have also had a crush on him. A crush the singer remained completely unaware of until I did as every musically-inclined college sophomore girl did, and made him a mix-tape to explain how I felt.

OK FINE, it was a CD. I wasn't cool enough for cassettes, OK?

I remember presenting my friend with the CD, not a particularly unusual thing for me to do, and telling him, "You have to listen all the way through and figure out the message." And so he set off to do just that.

Later on that day the singer ran the track with his disc-man, while I ran my little butt off on the elliptical (some things never change). Then, much to my horror, my friend approached me while I flailed on the ever-graceful machine and, headphones still in place, declared loudly, "I FIGURED IT OUT! IT'S THE STORY OF A HEARTBROKEN LIFE!"

Kids, I will repeatedly write about coming close to falling off the elliptical, but that was the only time that the elliptical itself fell apart and onto the ground with the extreme mortification of the moment.

"Uh, no," I stammered. "Keep guessing!"

In the end, the singer did guess the message of the mix, and it brought us closer as friends. Not boyfriend and girlfriend, however. After all, he was busy with that teeny blond girl next door to him - the one with the heavy eyeliner who could put both legs behind her head. And there are some things even a long workout on an elliptical just can't change.

Feeling sentimental, I dug my own copy of the mix out this past weekend and gave it a listen. My first thought was WOW, did I ever like some god awful bands. My second thought was that the message was embarrassingly clear, and how it took the singer two guesses to figure out the meaning is beyond me.


Anyway, if any of you are currently crushing hard and looking for a creative confessional Valentine, a similar mix could do the trick.  Of course with all of today's legal confusion surrounding the subject of mix-tapes and mix CDs (if it's for private use, is it OK? They won't tell us), my official advice is to go with a "suggested play list". It might sound lame, but whatever, so is Valentine's Day.

DO start with Weezer's "El Scorcho." There has never been a more charming line then "I'll bring home the turkey if you'll bring home the bacon."

Do NOT under any circumstances include "Short Stories With Tragic Endings" by From Autumn to Ashes. I am embarrassed to admit that this song served as a clincher on my own mix, but will enthusiastically affirm that it should never serve that role (or any role) from here on out.

DO include "Pamphlateer" by The Weakerthans. Or anything by The Weakerthans. They are Canadian. And amazing. And always will be.

Do NOT include songs by both Midtown and Rufio. And The Promise Ring. AND Alkaline Trio. Unless you too are designing your mix for the singer of an aspiring pop-punk band.

DO consider the option of movie soundtracks. Or more specifically, DO consider "Sally's Song" from The Nightmare Before Christmas as a possible closer. It's pretty dead on, and if we're honest, Tim Burton will always earn cool points.

Really though, the most important thing is to remember that today is just another day. If you actually plan to make a CD, do it today, or tomorrow, or never, but do it because you mean it, not because some holiday is pressuring you to. I believe it was Andre 3000, a very wise man, who once said, “Everyday is the 14th.” Consider that advice, and live by it.

And stear clear of errant ellipticals...


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