Song Of The Day 3/19/2017: Velocity Girl – “Pop Loser”

The Final 11
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Disclaimer: They Don't Make Disclaimers Like They Used To

We’re getting to that point in this pageant where events are more recent, and I won’t be able to fall back on my excuse of dwindling memory for omitting certain details.

We’re also closing in on the part where, by chronological mandate, I’ll have to start talking about people who are part of my daily existence, not remote personalities from the past.

And we’re coming up very quickly to the end of, not just this super-feature, but a complete program that’s informed the bulk of my creativity and expression for five years, and as such probably deserves one final blast of contextualization and summary that speaks to its importance and constitutes an overpowering, conclusive statement.

I will also have to deliver a personal accounting of emotions and sentiments, again because they are recent experiences, and will supply a sort of overtone to the factual events contained herein; a dispassionate, objective coda can not and will not suffice given the epic nature of this story.

Thankfully I have coffee.

Settling Up

So, I don’t know when Kate and I first met. We know it was at Thekla karaoke because everything happened at Thekla karaoke.

We’ve told everyone outside Olympia that we met at a “gay karaoke bar.” That’s only disingenuous because by the time Thekla karaoke was back in vogue, it wasn’t a focused gay bar anymore. It makes the story more interesting to say it was, but I have to be honest. The Urban Onion, where I KJed for a few months in 2004, now that was a gay karaoke bar. Thekla was just a karaoke bar.

Although to certain segments of the population outside Olympia or the liberal echo chamber I’m sure Thekla would still have been considered a gay karaoke bar simply because it was welcome to all, and to certain specific, more rabid contingents, tolerance equals identification, which equals some sort of bullshit divine judgment, which in turn is reflected back upon the bearer as earthly judgment to be conferred upon tolerant peoples, whose said tolerance of lifestyles other than their own is exactly the same as identifying with those lifestyles, meaning I and everyone who partook at Thekla karaoke might as well be gay, which, if that’s your final determination, is just fine with me.

We call that last paragraph “stalling.”

But no, unlike a lot of true romance stories in which people lock eyes for the first time and vaporous animated hearts manifest and levitate for a spell, I don’t recall exactly when Kate and I first acknowledged each other’s existence, exchanged identities and moved each other’s name from the “abstract” column to the “concrete” column.

Knowing how these things usually go, I’ll say “spring, probably.”

I can only speak to my state of mind at the time, which was not unlike that period in San Francisco I discussed earlier in which I was committed to being uncommitted. This time it was more successful, only because Olympia is a sort of petri dish for adulthood where definition and conformity are frequently an obstacle to progress. This view is not shared by all Olympians, but that’s fine because it was just another plank in the nonconformist platform. It really covered a whole lot of ground, that platform.

I should mention that what Kurt Cobain would have called “our little group” was driven by a community message board called Satanosphere. We supplemented the physical interactions that took place in the material world with online metacommentary that often served as a clearing house for suppressed emotions. Sometimes this was a positive thing. Sometimes it was a fucking loaded gun. Kate and I were both part of this board, though as one of its editors I contributed on a more frequent basis. I suspect that my persona on that thing carried over into real life and formed some perceptions about me that I both appreciated and had to repair immediately.

(Quickly, another fun fact about Satanosphere: When I first joined [member #50] I needed a screen name. I figured at the time the only thing I’d be using SOS for was promoting my radio show Shrug Festival—this turned out to be a laughable underestimation—so I decided to use the name “Paul Shrug.” One night at karaoke there was another guy named Paul [the nerve!] so to make that distinction between us I put “Paul Shrug” on the slip I handed to Jared. The rest is Drunk History. I didn’t expect the nickname to stick, but it has for 16 years and counting, although primarily at karaoke these days. I’ve been attempting a John Cougar-to-Cougar/Mellencamp-to-Mellencamp transition the last ten years to varying degrees of failure.)

I know Kate and I started hanging out in the ashes of another relationship about which I was experiencing some personal confusion, but really shouldn’t have been. I would have been miserable if it had continued. I think I was just frustrated it wasn’t working out from a personal pride point of view; as in, well, I’m a hard-luck Pisces and here’s yet another thing that didn’t go right. But objectively speaking the relationship wasn’t a good idea.

So Kate and I started that thing then. And, once again, there are a whole lot of events that took place in the following year-plus that happened that I don’t want to discuss, not just for other folks’ sake but my own. Let’s just say things were comparatively undefined for a good long while and our physical circumstances and options reflected that lack of definition.

But between you and me I probably knew Kate was the proverbial “one” much earlier than you or I thought.

I know this, in fact, because I can recall having an internal dialogue about the issue about two or three months in.

It went like this:
Rational Paul: Hey, hold up a minute. Don’t overlook Kate here. I like what I’m seeing.

Pablo the Irrational: Oooohh, I’ve got a loverly bunch of coconuts!!! There they are a-standin’ in a roooooow! Where’s the lampshade, bitches!! I got a big bald head that needs a lampshade!!

Rational Paul: Look, look, put this temporal BS aside for a minute. Think big picture. She’s got a lot of values you hold in high regard.

Pablo the Irrational: ALL RIGHT, Dorothy from Scarsdale, New York! What’s your bid on the Showcase Showdown! Wheeeee!! Bring me a Witty Chuck sergeant!

Rational Paul: Geez, do you ever do anything beyond a surface level anymore? Can’t you slow down and take a look at this?

Pablo the Irrational: Did you know the Arctic tern has the longest migration of any bird in the world? These black-capped, red-billed birds can fly more than 49,700 miles in a year, making a round trip between their breeding grounds in the Arctic and the Antarctic, where they spend their winters. The lucky bird gets to see two summers a year! And over its lifespan of more than 30 years, the flights can add up to the equivalent of three trips to the moon and back. (Source.)

Rational Paul: Great, Cliff Clavin. Aren’t you ever going to get out of preview mode and start applying some substance to your emotional life? Do you go anywhere without your joy buzzer anymore? A nation is waiting.

Pablo the Irrational: Does this lampshade make my ass look big?

Rational Paul: A full-length mirror makes your ass look big.

Pablo the Irrational: Bartender! Cut this guy off!

Something like that. Probably not as intellectual.

So there was some hemming, and hawing, and other things that I am known for which have annoyed my patient friend base for decades. It took me a while.

Once I took part in this project with a visual artist who was threading different people’s stories together to form a complete narrative. The participants never met each other, unless they happened to introduce themselves after the shoot, which I didn’t. The artist said our stories didn’t have to be non-fictional, but I decided mine should be. I went on a jag about this era of my life, how I was resisting form in all its manifestations. How I embraced and probably courted chaos and refused fixedness with my partner until the baby came, and then it was kind of like “falling in love in reverse.”

In the final piece the director cut out everything after “then the baby came.”

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