Music and Dating

Yesterday I was at a cafe, and the couple at the table next to me was mid-way through a terrible first date. You should never have to be on a first date unless it’s yours. I knew they were not having a good time, that things weren’t just awkward, when the woman, who was younger and more stylish than her date, asked, “What are your favorite bands?”

There’s no right way to answer that question. Especially if the cafe you’re at is Intelligentsia and you’re in Silver Lake. He’s not going to name top twenty groups because he’s not stupid, but even if he goes for some Indie standards, he’s not cool. The only move is to make up bands, so there’s no way she’s heard of them. “Right now I’m really into Forest Fire. They’re from Omaha.”

He refused to answer. I’m not sure how the conversation progressed from there, but later I heard her say, “Come on, you don’t have one band you’re excited about?!” Cornered, he said he liked the Flaming Lips. He tried to turn the tables, but she just said she also liked the Flaming Lips. But it didn’t seem like she really did. She was disappointed with him.

She never would have asked that question if she hadn’t already been skeptical. Asking that question on a first date is the equivalent of asking, “Are you as cool as me?” Or “Are you one of my people?” This is because music, much like clothes, becomes part of our identity display. If a guy likes Van Morrison, it’s like a magic password. Suddenly it seems like we might work well together, regardless of the fact he just shoplifted. I had an ex try to regain my affection by playing “Astral Weeks.” It worked until the end of Sweet Thing.

My iTunes Library will tell you who I’ve dated and who I’ve wanted to date–Rage Against the Machine through Outcast through The Smiths. Getting to know someone means getting to know their music. This is part of the appeal of mix tapes–they’re a quick way to become intimate. Sometimes, I really didn’t want to get to know someone’s music, even though I wanted to get to know them. My ex is British and therefore all about techno. He adamantly loaded my computer up with electronic music, screwing with my “Genius Mixes.” In hind sight this act feels rife with meaning. Did we accept each other if we couldn’t accept each other’s music?

My library also reflects my friends, family, country, ethnicity and sense of humor. I wouldn’t want you to think boys have had a disproportionate effect on my music. Well…maybe I’ve made the mistake of dating music freaks. A lot of them were musicians; I felt like I had to do homework in order to hang out with them. I love music. I think better when it plays. I live better when I’m dancing, but I’m not a certified music freak. First of all, I’ve read enough women’s magazines to know that any guy worth having won’t care if I’ve heard of the latest bands. But even if I wanted to go neurotic and insecure and brush up on my music blogs, it wouldn’t matter because the true music freak probably isn’t even focused on this century or country’s music. I love a date that starts with some Armenian folk songs in your car.

When it’s my turn to drive, I stick with classics–Cat Stevens and T. Rex won’t get you excluded from the club. One date even commented that he thought it was refreshing that I wasn’t trying to impress him with my music. Little did he know. Later I’ll use the music I absorbed from the last relationship to impress the new prospect.

Then there are the playlists everyone has. MOM STOP READING THIS. The titles are the best. I believe mine is innocuous, “Bedtime.” You really have to tailor your seductive music to your partner. If it’s a one night stand, don’t listen to “Someone Like You.” In fact that song is a bit much no matter who you’re with. Instrumental is always nice–Broken Social Scene, Explosions in the Sky (tee hee) or Radiohead. None of this music is very cheerful, but Vampire Weekend doesn’t make me want to bone. In fact, these days it makes me want to do very little but press “skip.”

Unfortunately, if you ever want to listen to your special playlist, you have to suffer through questions like, “What are your favorite bands?” I was hoping one of the benefits of Facebook would be you no longer had to answer questions like that. I’ve been told however that when you meet the right person, none of this shit matters. So in conclusion, listen to what you like, be yourself and that will automatically be sexy. Still, I don’t think it’s possible for me to fall in love with someone who worships country, but i’m willing to be proved wrong.

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