The White Stripes, a crush and a lesson for life.


Besides all the Darkwave, the Gothrock, the EBM, the Industrial, the Metal, the Jazz, the 70s Rock, the Batcave and the Psychobilly… The White Stripes and their dirty, violent, direct style will always be one of the most defining sounds of my most formative years.

And while I did also love Icky Thumb, and while Blue Orchid is probably my favourite song by them, Hotel Yorba and Dirty Leaves and, yes, Fell in Love With a Girl, all share a sound that I will forever miss.

Fell in Love With a Girl holds a true, special place in my heart.

It was a… Tumultuous time for me, romantically, when I was introduced to it.

The person who introduced me to that song, a dear friend at the time with whom I’ve sadly lost contact through nothing but attrition, time and distance, that person was there for me when I was going through a /heavy/ crush. A really fucking heavy crush. A “Let me drive to Cologne for a chance to have tea and listen to three songs with her.” kind of crush.

And several months later, I would sit in a car with said friend. We would sit besides each other in silence, while he would drive towards his place, where my car was standing. We were both at a loss for words.

It took him some time to get up the courage to glance at me and say: “Matt, I… I had no idea!”
And it took me a few heartbeats to close my eyes, sigh and answer: “Yeah. I gathered.”

And then I chuckled. And he nervously joined. And then we kind of started laughing.

Because we were just driving home from her place. My crush. The ephemeral, beautiful, witty and amazing Mareille. We had spent the whole weekend together (and another friend, who had left slightly earlier.). A perfect summer’s weekend. In fact, it was the day she took these two pictures of me:



And on Sunday evening/night, only her and Andreas and me were left. We retreated to her room and cuddled up together and she showed us her pictures from her trip to Arabia a few months ago.

Let me now state a few shortly relevant facts:
I was crushing on her /hard/.
Andreas knew this, and was there to support me. He had been creating opportunities for the four/three of us to meet and for him and Michael to give me and her space and time to talk. (In actuality, he was hugely amused by it all, and found it “cute as hell”.)

Got that? Okay. Let’s continue.

So, it was a warm July/August kind of night and we were in her room, cuddled up and looking at pictures when I… Notice something.

Andreas is kind of uncomfortable.
Mareille is visibly not.
Mostly because she kind of started to inch nearer and nearer to him, and to give… Signals, for lack of a better word.

After a few moments, I sighed internally, and announced with a smile: “Hey, I’m going down to the kitchen to make some tea, you guys want some too?”

Her eyes lit up and she smiled at me, thankfully, honestly. She nodded. She said: “The usual. Please…” (She said “please”, but it sounded a lot like “thanks”).
Andreas eyes went slightly wide and he started: “You don’t have to…”

Yes, yes I had.

I flashed him a grin, stated: “Black for you, alright.” and went down.

It was two floors down to reach the kitchen. (It was a… Big house. Outskirts of Cologne. Old artist’s community.) Down there, I sat down. I sighed. I banged my head against the heavy, solid, wooden table a few times. Then I started reading a few pages from a novel I found down there. I let… Some time pass.

I then made the tea, let it cool a bit, and went up. Slowly. Slightly louder than usual. Announcing myself.

When I got up, they were holding hands. Both happy. Both smiling. Both slightly embarrassed. (Although, as I very soon learned, Andreas had quite a bit of extra embarrassment to deal with.)

I handed out the tea, we moved near the window, sipped tea, listened to Dead Can Dance, watched the stars and continued to talk about the kinds of things good friends talk about.

A few hours later, I was in his car. During the moment I mentioned earlier.

I told him, truthfully, that I wasn’t mad. If she wanted him, she wanted him. And, yes, it hurt. It hurt like a motherfucker. But it was… It was also so goddamned hilarious. He didn’t want to get together with her. He didn’t plan for it. He did all he could to help me get a chance with her. But in the end, during all this, she fell for him.

The heart does, as it wants. :) [Addendum: What I learned for later life here? Never wait. Never waver. Never /assume/. If you fancy someone, if you love someone, if you are interested in someone, be it romantic or platonic… TELL THEM! Don’t be afraid. Don’t hesitate. Tell them. Be honest. Don’t creep. Don’t hide. Don’t play games. Clear, honest communication: Always the best way to deal with things. Always.]

Fast forward a few weeks. It’s the end of summer. Still warm, still awesome, but the nights start to carry a colder edge with them.

I was at Mareille’s place, alone this time. Adreas was gone because of his studies, and she’d soon be travelling to the UK for a few weeks, and we wanted to meet before that. I also brought her a dear-to-me T-Shirt. A limited edition Shadowrun Mailing List “Never Deal With a Dragon” t-shirt. It was both parts a gift and a good luck charm. And quite a bit of “don’t you forget about me” baked in.

It was a truly wonderful evening. I… Well, I wasn’t really “over” her, but I had learned to deal and cope, and I was healing. It didn’t hurt being with her but not being able to /be/ with her. It just lent it all a very sentimental/melancholy edge.

Shortly before I had to leave back home (I had University at 0800 the next morning, and it was already 0100, and I was one hour away from home…), a thought struck me. I still don’t know why I decided to say what I said next:

“You know what, Mareille? Even after the huge crush I had/have on you, you and Andreas make a cute couple. I’m happy you two ended up together.”

Blood fled her face. She started at me, mortified. And she then whispered: “You… Had a crush on me?”

And I just blinked back at her, stupifed for a few heartbeats. Not knowing how to respond. Total, stone-cold silence between the two of us.

“… Yes? Don’t you remember the walks we took that I planned? The times I asked you out for movies? All these time I got earlier to our GURPS sessions just to spent a few minutes with you? The looks I shot you? The braindead, happy smile I had on my face every time I could spend time with you?”

It seemed that she got paler still. “No… No! I didn’t… I didn’t realize. I didn’t know. It’s… I… I had a crush on Andreas the whole time.”

I blinked again, and just started laughing. She had a crush on the oblivious guy who had been helping me to try and spark her interest. The whole time. It was a “love at first sight” kind of think for her. He hadn’t seen that. I hadn’t seen that. And she hadn’t noticed my fumbling attempts at trying to attain her grace.

She didn’t know what was so funny, so I told her. And she snickered too.

And then we hugged. She said she was sorry, and she meant it.
I told her she didn’t have to be, and I also meant it.

We remained friends. Close, good friends. No jealousy, no bullshit. Until she had to move away a country too far for her studies. The distance, and a mental darkness inside me (university related depression), tore us apart, sadly enough.

But the time we had, we spent as friends. From start to end. We shared laughter and tears and hugs and playful punches and the most amazing, night-chewing discussions and arguments and dialogues. We danced together, we roleplayed together, we watched movies together, we ate and drank together, we lived a part of each our lives together. I even helped pick out her amazing, vintage, graduation dress. It had tassels. And a bow. And she looked fabulous in it.

And that’s why Fell in Love With a Girl will always be a special song for me. For a whole damn year, it was the song silently being played by a manically laughing deity, whenever they deigned to zoom in and focus on my attempts to gain the attention and attraction of an amazing person I had fallen in love with. It was the song I had been introduced to by the guy she actually ended up being involved with.

It’s the perfect mix of bitter-sweetness, melancholy and downright hilariousness. :)

And, as always, it’s great to remember your past. It’s NOT great to try and hide from the present and future while attempting to escape back into it… That’s a lesson that needs to be constantly applied. So, after listening to this song? Go and also listen to Blue Orchid. Because progress is good, too.

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