Letters from a Relationship Gone By: My Review of a Mix-CD From an Ex Circa 2009

I was cleaning out my car and digging through the glove box when I discovered a CD.

This was a CD compiled and given to me by my then-girlfriend back in 2009. She gave it to me one night while I was at work. It was a busy night and I was supervising a bookstore the Tuesday (I think) before Thanksgiving. She stopped by and gave me a box of homemade cookies and this CD to listen to on the way there.

I’m generally pretty good at staying on at least good terms with the women I’ve dated, post-breakup. Some I consider very good friends even.

This one though, nah.

She broke up with me via email.

Oh wait, no let me retry that. She broke up with via email but, because I didn’t check that email often, she cut and pasted it and sent it to my Facebook.

No, no. Wait. Let me try that again. She broke up with me via email. On Christmas Eve!

The morning of Christmas Day, I was texting her, asking her how the holiday was going. Checking in. Unknowing the whole time that she’d broken up with me (and her message read very much like a resignation letter more than a breakup letter).

See, remember how I said I didn’t check that email often? That’s what compelled her to cut and paste the email into a Facebook message. On Christmas Day. I read it at the same time my mom asked me “so what did you and _____ get each other?” while I sat at the kitchen table. I was too proud to say anything. Dumbest Christmas ever.

But boy, did I get a kick out of that story when I started playing this mix CD and the first song on it was “The Bitch Went Nuts” by Ben Folds. Normally, I don’t like the phrase “bitch” and try to avoid it, but ya know, sometimes it’s just gotta be said. After I found the CD and heard that song I laughed through the whole thing.

So while I’m on this trail, what else did she put on the CD?

Here’s the tracklist:

  1. The Bitch Went Nuts – Ben Folds.
    While wildly fitting now, at the time, it played off our mutual adoration of Ben Folds. One night, I’d closed the store on a Monday night and met up with her for a pint at Free State in Lawrence. That same night, Ben Folds was playing at Liberty Hall, so as we left the bar, we looked down the street and he was there outside his bus talking with people. We approached and got our pictures taken with him. It was a pretty cool moment. When she and I got back to my car, she kept asking – no, wailing – “Did that really happen?!?!?” and giggled like a maniac.
  2. Sharp Dressed Man – ZZ Top
    For some of these, there won’t really be any relevance, which kind of speaks to the quality of the mix. If I had to guess on this one, it’s connected to another ZZ Top track that brought this song to mind as well. Maybe. That Halloween, I had tossed a suit jacket over a T-shirt and borrowed a cane and went as Dr. Gregory House. I did pretty well with it. Maybe that’s the reference.
  3. Young Folks – Peter Bjorn and John
    She really liked this song. She thought I should like it, too. But I never really liked this song.
  4. The Calculation – Regina Spektor
  5. Doubleback – ZZ Top
    For our third date, she and I ordered a pizza, split a six pack, and watched the entire Back to the Future trilogy. When he found out about that, one of my roommates at the time said “Marry her. Marry her right now.” Oh, George…silly you. I do really like this song though. It’s playing during the end credits of Back to the Future III, and an older style version (i.e., acoustic, more bluegrassy) is played at the fair during BTTFIII by ZZ Top.
  6. Army – Ben Folds
    More Ben Folds. Always a good thing.
  7. We Built This City – Starship
    Alright, so anyone who knows me knows I have an unironic appreciation for 80s music, even if it’s pretty goofy and even terrible. But Starship is just … oy. It’s too much 80s. They could have only been from the 80s.
  8. Africa – Toto
    Love this song…
  9. Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now – Starship
    A little too much Starship though…
  10. Friday I’m In Love – The Cure
  11. Life in the Fast Lane – The Eagles
    This should have been an early sign that there was something crazy down the line.
  12. Back in Time – Huey Lewis and the News
    But redeemed by more Back to the Future music! If you don’t like Back to the Future, well, there’s just no hope for ya.
  13. Money – Peter Bjorn and John
    I don’t get it. I don’t like these guys.
  14. Weezer – The Christmas Song
    This is the only song I couldn’t also find on Spotify. I was a big Weezer fan in their early years, and less so as they went on. I like some stuff, but nothing tops the Blue Album for me, and Pinkerton’s great as well.
  15. Hungry Eyes – Eric Carmen
    She and I used to call it “happyfunsexytime”. No joke. I’m just as shocked as you are that it didn’t last.
  16. Hold On – Kansas
    See, she’s digging up two Starship songs, but then there’s a Kansas song I’ve never heard of?
  17. Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey
    Her ringtone was “Don’t Stop Believin'” which is the ultimate corny 80s anthem. I used to say I liked Journey as a joke. I named my fantasy football team The Journeymen in 2002 when joining a league. I pretended that Steve Perry was the owner. This was also one of her favorite songs, so its inclusion on this CD is appropriate and awesome.
  18. Psycho Killer – Talking Heads
  19. A Change At Christmas – Flaming Lips
    I guess because I could listen on the way back to Lawrence and have Christmas ahead to look forward to?

There’s a lot of foretelling in these selections: Bitch Went Nuts; Change At Christmas; Psycho Killer (she was a psych grad student after all); The Christmas Song.

In the end, I made it back to Lawrence through some nasty road conditions (there was a ton of snow in Kansas that week), got together with two friends after working the day after Christmas, got passed out drunk halfway through the Hangover, and had leftover pizza or breakfast.

And now I have about 1/3 of a reasonable mix CD. Really though, she and I were only together three months or so. There will just be some gaps in the shared experience. So some of these songs fit. Some don’t. Some are just random to fill the CD, I’m sure. At the time, the CD served me well. The breakup was ridiculous and I was upset after it (as would be expected), but now, it’s kind of funny, and a great story to tell at parties.

So all’s well that end’s well. And fuck it. I met Ben Folds.

I'm asking him about what he had for breakfast. "Don't ever try hazelnut coffee," he said.

I’m asking him about what he had for breakfast. “Don’t ever try hazelnut coffee,” he said.

If you’d like to listen to the playlist (sans Weezer’s Christmas Song), the Spotify playlist should be embedded below. Enjoy!


~ by Michael Engel on January 18, 2014.

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