songsforthedumped.gifThere are a few cold, hard truths in this world: you can’t run for president on the GOP ticket if you’re a thrice-married cross-dresser, the Cubs aren’t going to win this year either, and long-distance relationships are really, really hard to pull off, no matter how ambitiously starry-eyed you are when you leave college. Mojo Flucke learned the last one the hard way, but at least he got a trip to Margaritaville out of it, which is something not all of us can say.

“Wasted Away Again In Puerto Rico”
By Mojo Flucke, Ph.D.

I begin by tossing out this long-distance dedication — “Breathe” by All (download) — to this one girl.

See, I was engaged twice. Few people know of the first; most know of Kate, the second, to whom I remain happily married. I very rarely speak of this other one, because the retelling sends jolts down my spine. Bad- vibes jolts. Like when you’re using jumper cables to start a car and you get a sudden poke and realize, yeah, your arm actually conducts serious amperage just like the warnings right there on the battery say. Still does, 15 years on. Dunno why, because clearly I’m much better off today without her, and with my soulmate Kate.

This one girl? She was my last college girlfriend, beautiful and smart, with an easy laugh and, best of all, half-decent taste in music, save for chronic Plimsouls benders revisited upon her every few months. We closed down shop at the U in Athens, Ohio, got our degrees, and started our careers together. Me in chilly New Hampshire, she in sunny-wonderful Wilmington, N.C. Didn’t matter where we ended up or how good or bad the career changes togetherness would require, she’d accepted the ring and said “yes.” Good times were invariably ahead.

Then, two years into it, things got suddenly uneasy. Maybe she was having second thoughts, or maybe some dude caught her eye. Maybe she was bored with me. Whatever it was, on the eve of my taking off for a weekend visit in Wilmington, she told me over the phone it was over — But I could still come down and sleep on the couch in the living room, if I wanted to come.

F that, I told her, I was going burn the airplane ticket going to Puerto Rico to visit my pal on a teaching internship. Thanks a lot, nice job, *click.* Done with her.

It was the snowy depths of New England in February, my roommate had just moved out to South Dakota for a job, and I was alone in this entire house we’d rented, dumped by the best girl I’d ever known up to that point in life. I had a couple weeks left before I had to move myself; I barely could cover my half, let alone the whole rent. Nightly I watched cable news reports following David Koresh and the Branch Davidians’ standoff up to its stunning, fiery conclusion. Alone. Funny the things your memory chooses to versus what it discards.

The only thing that got me through moving to another place and, finally, hitting the Vieques beach (who knew you could crash out for $10 a night in someone’s house if you had a Puerto Spanish speaker in your crew to negotiate?) was the song “Breathe” by the punk-pop band All, which really is The Descendents with a different lead singer.

It’s a simple little ditty, but it nicely sums up the angst and hurt of a breakup, and even tosses in a little bitter tongue-in-cheek to show maybe you don’t mean that opening line “You can go kill yourself, don’t matter to me.” Or maybe you do. Either way, it’s all good, down to that skull-crushing lick on the chorus that, when you play it loud enough, dislodges cinder blocks cemented in place. Trust me, I learned that firsthand. My roommate had paid the security deposit, after all.