Let us now join Popdose maestro Jeff Giles on the worst trip to Europe since Charlie Brown and Linus were sent to indentured servitude at that weird French manor.
“A Little Bit Of Sadness In My Life, Or, How It’s Possible To Not Get Smooched On A Monthlong Vacation That Ends In Paris”
By Jeff Giles
As a rule, bloggers are an exhibitionist lot — why do you think we’re always trying to shove our innermost thoughts in front of your eyeballs? — but music critics tend to be pretty guarded and self-conscious, so you can imagine the conflicting impulses our staff suffered when they received the assignment for this month’s feature. Being that I was the one who handed down the assignment, some of this conflict spilled over on me — I was sent more than one e-mail accusing me of getting off on your Popdosers’ suffering.
Nothing could be further from the truth. But just to even any perceived imbalances here, I will share with all of you the story of how I came to be dumped in Paris, and why I fucking hate Lou Bega.
It was the summer of 1999, and I was an idiot. This may sound like a strange setup, but there’s literally no other way to explain what I’m about to tell you, which is: I was in Europe, on a monthlong vacation, with my ex-girlfriend. And her mother. And I was footing the bill for the whole thing.
I say “ex-girlfriend,” but I don’t mean it as in “ex-girlfriend now.” Well, I mean, the woman in question is my ex-girlfriend now, but she was also my ex-girlfriend then, as in on the trip. That I was paying for. In Europe, remember? With her mom?
See, here’s the thing. Closure is important. And when you don’t get it — say, when someone breaks up with you over the phone, and gives you no reason for doing so, and continues flitting around the corners of your life for years, like a venomous moth — you might, if you are an idiot, find yourself committing a series of progressively more desperate and expensive acts. You might even find yourself on a treadmill in the basement of a hotel on the Isle of Capri, praying for a heart attack, or sending e-mails back home with the signoff “There’s mercy in Hell.”
I mean, heh, who hasn’t been there, right?
Fuckin’ anyway, like I was saying, it was the summer of 1999, and Europe — the source of all horrible novelty songs — was deep in the throes of Lou Bega mania. Everywhere we went, we heard “Mambo No. 5” (download). I’m pretty sure I even heard it at the Vatican. In my mind, the song is inexorably linked with that “vacation,” which kicked off with my ex-girlfriend’s pronouncement that after much thought and internal discussion, she had decided she was satisfied with always being my ex-girlfriend, and from there went downhill with the speed of a piano on bobsleds coated in chicken fat.
For a month, I went to old castles and churches and stared at paintings of Jesus. For a month, I searched in vain for a decent breakfast. One night, I found myself in a late-night screaming match with a German border patrol agent on a train to…I don’t remember, really. I drank plenty, but not enough. Lou Bega was always there.
Finally, we reached Paris, and the last few days of the trip. I don’t know if it was the cumulative effect of all the booze, or the higher grade of porn on the Parisian hotel TV, but I somehow got the notion that one last roll in the hay wouldn’t be such a bad idea. You know, one for the road, right? On the road, even. The road I fucking paid for.
I will spare you the details of the conversation that followed — mostly because I’ve blocked it almost completely from my memory — but I can tell you two things: One, we were sitting on the sidewalk outside an ice cream parlor; and two — of course! — “Mambo No. 5” was on.