The Flea of Love: The Mix Tape

by Sam Romano

So I have this ex, PP. I think I've mentioned him before. PP has a unique ability to continue dumping me even when we're not together. I'm not quite sure how he does it, but the man has broken up with me like four times, and at least two of those times, we were hardly on speaking terms, let alone in any sort of relationship. It's a rare talent that boy has, but he always finds a way to make me feel like complete crap about myself.

I'd say he almost deserves "Cockroach of Love" status, but I don't know that he's ascended to quite that level of assholishness. He's too small (and I mean that in ALL senses of the word...okay, that was mean, but it's so true...) for true cockroach status like my Evil Ex, who is my one true Cockroach of Love. No, instead, I think PP's more like the "Flea of Love." He's one of those pesky parasites who just keeps nipping at me in spite of numerous flea baths and flea collars. He just doesn't go away.

So this weekend, after having been "dumped" by him for the fourth but surely the FINAL time, I decided to mourn our relationship properly. I didn't know quite how to mark this momentous occasion. I thought and I thought and I thought about what would really make me feel better. A good new man? Well yes, that could work. However, the good ones are certainly in short supply (I'm doubtful they exist at all), and really, I'm currently of the mind that buying a dog is a much better investment of time, money, and emotional effort. Or maybe just a mindless roll in the hay with a less-than-good man? Well, that could work too since there's no real emotional investment there, but anyone who knows me knows I'm completely neurotic re: cooties, especially boy cooties. Plus, I'm a born-again virgin, so no, that's not much of an option either.

I began wondering how I have made it through my many heartaches over the years with no real way to say "I'm sad" and "fuck you!!!" all at once. Vandalism is not an option, as PP is not worth jail time. I refuse to cry or carry on in any way in front of him, so calling and yelling at him really isn't an option either. And then it hit me. How did I mend my young broken heart back in the day? With a mix tape, that's how. So I promptly set out to create my Flea of Love Mix. (I should note that though I wanted to go completely old school and mix a real tape, it's more of a CD mix because I realized I no longer own a tape deck. So instead, I settled on two CD compilations, each representing one side of a classic mixed tape.)

So after feeling sufficiently sorry for myself for most of the weekend, I set out to make my Flea of Love Mix, especially for the dearly departed PP. After spending hours poring over my music collection, I decided on my two themes: CD A would be a pity party, wherein I could include all of my saddest songs...those songs that remind me how much life can suck after being dumped. CD B would be more uplifting, a reminder that though life can suck, things are not as terrible as they seem. So here it is, my Flea of Love Mix.

CD A: Pity Party

"Sadness" by Enigma

I'm really not into Gregorian chanting nor do I speak French or Latin. However, the song's title alone warrants the first spot on my Flea of Love Mix. Could there be any more succinct way of expressing my current emotional state than this title? I think not. Plus it's got that lusty sort of feel to it, which makes it even sadder because I know I won't be getting any anytime soon. *sigh...

"Pictures of You" by The Cure

What better way to fill one's ears than with the sweet yet regretful broodings of one Robert Smith? This man really gets the whole breakup business. I mean, really, when the person you love is gone, what is left? The pictures that "almost seem real...the pictures that I almost believe are all I can feel." Thank you, Robert Smith, for understanding. It's why I love you. However, I really must bust you out for selling this song out to fucking Hewlett Packard. I was NEVER more pissed off than when I heard this song appropriated by a damn printer. Never. (I was even more pissed off than when some shitty car company used The Best Guitar Riff Ever to pimp their ride. But more on that later...). Though the commercial itself is pretty and modern, it misses the ENTIRE point of this song, which is a lament for a lost love, not a whimsical ditty about great print quality. Robert, really, if you're hard up for cash, just release a new CD. I'll buy it right up. I promise.

"Mr. Brightside" by The Killers

I've done it. You've done it. And apparently Brandon Flowers has done it. We've all spent hours torturing ourselves over what our dearly departed ex is currently doing with his/her newfound love, especially in the sack. It's hard not to wonder "Is she better than me??? Does he touch her the same way he touched me??? Does he think about me when he's doing her???" And let me tell you, that sort of thinking can get a girl into big, big trouble, like oh, I dunno...calling someone you know you shouldn't, sending venomous emails, sitting outside his house, waiting to see if he's with her, ranting like a raving lunatic a la Alanis Morissette (I understand where the girl is coming from, and frankly, I agree with her 100%. But really, do we need to let the likes of fucking Dave "Pug Face" Coulier know that we brood over such things? It's most undignified.) But seeing as we're all dignified people here, we don't need to resort to such atrocities. Instead, we realize, as this song points out, that those visions are all in our heads. So I allow myself the three and a half minutes that this song lasts to brood and be jealous, and then I firmly put these thoughts out of my mind because I know that in reality, the sex with PP wasn't always all that, and now, it's someone else's turn to be less than impressed with it.

"Blue Monday" by New Order (or the highly respectable cover by Orgy)

So please tell me, PP, how does it feel to treat me like you do? I suppose only he can really answer that, but I refuse to ask him myself. Therefore, I'll let New Order (or if I'm feeling particularly pissed off, Orgy's roughed-up version) do it for me. Really, who amongst us has not wanted to ask our exes, "Tell me how does it feel, when your heart grows cold?"

"A Forest" by The Cure

I've always found this to be the most beautiful Cure song. It's very haunting and sad and so pleasingly existential. And it sums up my thoughts on love quite succinctly. You hear its call. You run after it until you're hopelessly lost. Then, once lost, you come to the rather bleak realization that it doesn't exist at all. "You're running towards nothing...again and again and again and again and again and again..." Right on. But I'm not bitter.

"Pretty in Pink" by The Psychedelic Furs

"What about prom, Blane? What about prom???" What about prom, indeed. And what about all of the empty promises of a future together? What about all the times you told me you loved me? Unfortunately, prom does not always end as happily as it does for Andie Walsh. Unfortunately, most of us end up like the girl in the song. Used. Tossed aside. Locker-room fodder. And as some may interpret this song, suicidal. Well, no man will ever drive me to that, but you get my point.

"Loser" by Beck

"Soy un perdedor...I'm a loser baby, so why don't you kill me?" It's hard not to feel like a loser after getting dumped. Hell, I sometimes feel like a loser even when I'm not all feeling sorry for myself. But the most wonderful thing about Beck's ruminations on being a loser is that he's so fucking cool doing it. So I take comfort that when I'm feeling like an unlovable loser, so does Beck. And he's pretty damn cool.

"How Soon Is Now?" by The Smiths

I've included "How Soon Is Now?" as the conclusion to my pity party because it gets at the heart of my problems with men. I'm an incredibly shy person, and, hard as I try, I've not found it easy to just "get over it," as my family tells me to do. I could write a guy pages upon pages on nothing in particular, but plop me down in front of said guy, and I nervously struggle for something to say. So if a guy comes along whom I can actually talk to without all the anxiety (a rare thing indeed), a guy like PP, whom I talked to with great ease from the first time we met (actually, he did most of the talking), I tend to hold on to him long past his expiration date. After all, I am human, and I need to be loved, just like everybody else does...just not by PP. And now it's Morrissey's turn to incur my wrath for allowing some shitty car company to use what is, in my humble opinion, The Best Guitar Riff Ever to hawk cars. I mean, at least when Robert Smith sold one of my all-time favorite songs out, the commercial itself was kinda cool. But this one? This a big, boring, stinking pile of crapola. I can understand the need for a paycheck, but geez. Couldn't you have picked a song that's more applicable to sales, like "Shoplifters of the World Unite"? Please, no more selling out a la Iggy Pop. You're so much better than that, Morrissey!

CD B: Why, Yes, Gloria, I Will Survive

"I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor

I know this song has become a tired, old cliché, but I always find the message of it to be rather uplifting. It reminds me that no matter how badly I've been hurt, I'm always still in one piece and am stronger for it. And how gratifying will it be when PP comes crawling back (as he has already tried to do) to just tell him, "Go on and go...walk out the door. Just turn around now cuz you're not welcome anymore." Not to mention, the song's got a great beat AND you can dance to it.

"Dear Prudence" by The Beatles (or the solid 1983 Souxsie and the Banshees cover)

Apparently John Lennon wrote this song to cheer up a depressed Prudence Farrow, sister to Mia. Oh, if only John could have written a song to cheer me up! The mere thought of it cheers me up! But this will certainly do. When I'm feeling down, I turn this one up to remind myself that "the sun is up, the sky is blue, it's beautiful..." and so am I. Sorry...I just couldn't rhyme that as well as John.

"Last Goodbye" by Jeff Buckley

Jeff Buckley was not long for this world, which is a total shame because of brilliant musical gems such as this one. I love this song because it reminds me that it's okay to still have feelings for someone I'm no longer with. And just because I have those feelings doesn't mean the relationship needs to carry on. "Why can't we overcome this wall? Well maybe it's just because I didn't know you at all." Truer words have never been sung.

"You're the Reason I'm Leaving" by Franz Ferdinand

Like most Franz Ferdinand songs, this one is upbeat and lively and makes me want to bounce my head furiously as I sing along completely off key whilst driving. And it's got a gem of a verse so applicable to my feelings for PP:

"You're the reason I'm leaving/As we ride along under an optimistic sun/The radio sings that "Everybody" song by R.E.M./And here I am fighting fighting/Yes I'm fighting not to cry/And that's another reason/Why I oughtta hate you like I do/Like I do"

I adore the reference to R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts" because I had considered including that song in on my pity party. But then I remembered, I hate that song because it always makes me cry. And I don't want to cry anymore. Instead, I just want to let PP know that I hate him because he's made me cry so many times and be done with it. So thank you, Franz, for telling him for me.

"Kiss Off" by the Violent Femmes

Oh, what I wouldn't give for just one last moment with PP to tell him thusly: "You can just kiss off into the hurt me bad, but I don't mind, you hurt me bad, but you do it all the time." Yeah, yeah. He certainly has, which is why this has certainly gone down on his permanent record with me.

"Burning Photographs" by Ryan Adams

I think of this song as a nice counterpoint to the Cure's "Pictures of You." It's rather cathartic to get rid of all the reminders of a lost love, especially all the old pictures of happier times. I mean, you can only brood over those reminders for so long until you get bored with the whole process. So on various occasions, after reaching the point of boredom, I've created my own little inferno of love letters and photos. This time, as I burned the few photos I had of myself with PP, I blasted "Burning Photographs" over and over, repeating the verse:

"Pretty pictures in a magazine/Everybody is so make believe, it's true/I used to be sad/Now I'm just bored with you/You're doomed to repeat the past/'Cause nothing is gonna last/I burned all of your photographs."

What I love so dearly about this verse is something that can only be appreciated when it's played. Ryan Adams makes this great little sound effect when he says, "I used to be sad, pshaw, now I'm just bored with you." It is so classic. Every time I hear it, I just want to scream, "Yes! Yes! YES!!!!" It's all in the sound effects.

"Only" by Nine Inch Nails

Props to Karen for reminding me what a wonderful breakup song this really can be. (Ed. note: Yes, we know it's supposed to be about Trent vs. himself and the record industry and addiction or whatever.) There is no better way to get over a man than to completely deny his existence. So after burning his photographs, deleting him out of my e-mail address book, and obliterating all of his numbers from my cell phone, PP is no longer. There is no fucking you, PP. There is only me. Oh, and Trent, if you're listening, a single squeeze of one of your fabulous biceps would make the whole "PP who???" thing so much easier, and I could die a happy, happy girl...

"Float On" by Modest Mouse

I love the bouncy, light-heartedness of this song. And it reminds me that no matter what sort of shitty things happen, including getting dumped, everything is always a-okay.

"Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" by Eric Idle

I figure if a bunch of guys being crucified can whistle about the good things in life, there's no reason I can't. Sure "life's a piece of shit when you look at it," but there's always something good in it too. I have great friends. I have a loving family. And that, my friends, is all a happy girl needs.

"Brand New Lover" by Dead or Alive

And now is the time when we dance. We dance to the dearly departed PP. We dance to my newly claimed singleton status. And we dance to finding someone new, preferably someone who doesn't freak me out quite like Peter Burns. Because "what I really need to do is find myself a brand new lover, somebody real nice to me who doesn't notice all the others, what I really need to do is find a brand new lover..." Now finding that brand new lover can be a challenge, but I've got time and a good soundtrack.