“Mercy Mercy Me”
By Zack Dennis
When I came back from my adventures in South Africa, I was truly living the dream. I was twenty-nine, unemployed, and living in the spare room of my father’s house in Arlington. My days consisted of applying for jobs I was hoping I wouldn’t be offered, lifting weights, and hanging around at tennis courts practicing my serve. My nights consisted of drinking bourbon and staying up late watching Futurama reruns on Adult Swim. J_____, reeling from a failed relationship in Atlanta, had come home and was living in a similar situation. She and I had been friends since freshman year in college; I’d been chasing her since a makeout session in the blue glow of a television that had just finished showing 9Â½ Weeks. After deftly deflecting my advances for the next ten years, she finally consented, and we spent the summer of 2005 together. Our relationship was an exercise in adolescent regression; it primarily consisted of a series of late-afternoon trysts before our parents came home, but through the course of it I fell for her, hard. At the end of the summer I moved to Los Angeles for a new job, foolishly hoping she’d follow me. We managed to limp along until January before she broke things off, and I was devastated.
I’d heard of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club through J_____, and while making a belated Valentine’s CD for her I encountered their song “Mercy” (download) from the acoustic Howl Sessions. There’s a lot in the lyrics that reminds me of her, though I should make it clear that she’s not the type of person that the song is about. But something about it really captured my mood, and the conflict in my head at the time. I was searching desperately and angrily to find fault with her so the blow would be softened, but it was virtually impossible for me to do so because I still loved her. I really felt like a man who had been left with nothing. Even then, I knew that it was completely unfair to blame J_____ for breaking my heart. After all, *I* was the one who had left. But I’d never been hurt this bad before (it took me a good solid year to recover) and for the first time in my life, I honestly knew what the word “heartache” meant.