In most cases, a breakup song is whatever happens to be playing in the background, but on rare, special occasions, it’s as though the DJ has temporarily set up shop inside your brain, ready to accent your worst moments with even worse music. Jon Cummings gets all AC on you in the winter of 1981.
“This Story Features Long Bus Rides With Cheerleaders”
By Jon Cummings
When I was in high school, I had an annoying tendency to develop head-over-heels crushes on girls who were either way out of my league or were inappropriate for other reasons (immature, insane, gay, etc. — sometimes more than one of those at the same time). I was a sportswriter in those days, covering my high school’s football and basketball games for the local paper, so I spent a lot of time on long bus rides with cheerleaders — and would occasionally mistake their friendliness for something else. To make matters worse, the girl I was REALLY in love with, a cheerleader herself, was off limits because she had a jock boyfriend. So instead of letting myself really fall for her, I would engage her in drawn-out heart-to-hearts about whichever other girl I was crushing on.
During the winter of ’81 I fell hard for a particular girl — we’ll call her E—-. She was red-haired, freckled, flawless. I kept my distance for a long time; I wrote songs about her, stalked her at 10 paces in the hallways, and of course mooned over her incessantly with my cheerleader confidant. I finally got up the courage to approach E—- at a postgame dance and pour my heart out. I showed her my songs; I protested my undying love; I even proffered the endorsement of our mutual friend.
Needless to say, I didn’t get the response I was looking for — though E—- was perfectly sweet and sympathetic as she ripped my heart from my chest. She turned to walk away, and just then the DJ began playing “More Than Just the Two of Us” by Sneaker (download), which was a minor hit at that time — and perhaps the most maudlin “please don’t go” song ever written. I watched her go, and as I glanced around the room I saw the cheerleader friend who I really loved, dancing with her boyfriend.
As I stood there alone, watching her dance — and as the suddenly orange-tressed, pock-marked and deeply flawed E—- probably went off to gossip about me with her bitchy friends — the inanity of Sneaker’s lyrics melded with the absurdity of my situation, and I found myself laughing all the way home. I quickly forgot about E—- entirely, and moved on to my next serial crush.
(Of course, I never got anywhere with my cheerleader friend, either, but that’s another story.)