|"August and Everything After"
Disclaimer: Hey, if anybody should know that Roswell,
its characters, etc. do not belong to me but to Metz
and Katims et. al., it's someone who just graduated
from law school and plans to practice intellectual
property law. Ditto for the Counting Crows lyrics.
This here is what you call "fair use," folks. Plus
I'm judgment-proof. All I have is an antiquated
PowerBook and a high-end Mercedes' worth of
educational loans. I doubt you'd want either.
Summary: Michael rethinks his low opinion of Max's musical selection.
Authors Note: Personally, I love Counting Crows, but they're my college band so I'm not exactly objective. I've always loved "Anna Begins," and the last time I was listening to the album I realized that it fit Michael so perfectly that I just had to write about it. This is second season, post-EOTW but pre-Harvest.
|Maxwell listens to Counting Crows when heís
depressed. When Iím standing outside his window at
night, I always know whether or not itís safe to come
in based on whatís playing on his stereo. Counting
Crows, stay the hell away. Anything else, címon in.
The welcome mat has been rolled up a lot lately. He
refuses to talk about whatever it is thatís crawled
that far under his skin, but it has to be bad.
Cosmically bad, pardon the pun. Worse than anything
ever before, because frankly, Iím surprised he hasnít
had to replace the CD about thirty times by now.
I never liked Counting Crows. Iím not sure whether it was because of this direct link to Maxís funks or because I just found them laughably pretentious. Pretense sets my teeth on edge. I hate pretense. Which is funny, when you think about it, because everything in my life is pretense, from my name to my oh-so-human teenage rebel without a cause exterior. That supposedly impenetrable stone wall? Total pretense. And much as I hate to admit it, crumbling fast at the foundation.
Which is why Iím at his window a lot these days, even if I have to listen to that guyís grumbly voice on constant repeat for hours on end. I tell myself itís because Iím worried about Max and Is, because Iím a warrior and warriors stand guard. Part of itís true. Ever since the ETs phoned home and got the answering machine from hell, theyíve both been basket cases. And since Nasedo got whacked and the dandruff people started showing up, watching their backs has felt like a duty I can't deny. But then again, since weíre on the subject of pretense, I have to admit that being here also stops me from standing outside another window, someone elseís window. Her window.
So Iím sitting under his window, leaving an ass-shaped dent in the Evansí perfectly manicured lawn while guitars and mandolins and whiny artsy guys narrate Maxís pain and the usual dark cloud makes itself comfortable over my head. And I try to ignore the music that must be covering Maxís sighs and probably sobs as well, but when you hear something for the umpteen millionth time it starts to seep into your brain cells, like some rash-inducing virus. You canít ignore it after that.
And you know what? This guy has major problems, and itís not Maxís life heís narrating. Itís mine.
For one thing, he has a total hang-up about a girl named Maria. He sings about her a lot. ďRound Here,Ē where heís talking about some girl who wants to meet a boy who looks like Elvis? Her name is Maria. The black-haired flamenco dancer in ďMr. Jones,Ē whoís suddenly beautiful? Maria. That queen whose service he belongs in in ďRain KingĒ? He never says what her name is, but Iíd put money down that itís got to be Maria. There must be something about girls named Maria, something about them that drives you so far up the wall that you have to drop out of Berkeley and write interminable outpourings of angst in their name just so you can breathe normally again.
Hey, wasnít there some musical about a girl named Maria? Right, ďThe Sound of Music.Ē Before Social Services decided I really belonged in hell and saddled me with Hank, I got shuttled from one foster home to another, stopping for a couple of days or a couple of months, depending on how masochistic the foster parents were. Foster ďparents.Ē What a crock. Theyíre all either desperately trying to be the selfless angels of mercy they secretly know theyíll never be, or theyíre just in it for the welfare check, like Hank. Anyway, a couple of stops before Hank I landed in the home of Ms. Myra Roberts, who, God help us all, was not only of the former variety but also a colossal musical freak. Rogers and Hammerstein were like crack to this woman. She broke into show tunes at the drop of a hat. I think she thought that, if she could just fit her life into the right libretto, everything would be technicolor meadows and happily ever after. Didnít know I knew words like ďlibretto,Ē did you? I do now. Thanks, Myra. Also thanks to Myra, I got to annoy the hell out of Maria once in junior high by belting out ďHow Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?Ē at the top of my tone-deaf lungs in the quad. It made her insane. At the time, I found it immensely amusing.
Of course, that was back in my barely-pubescent days, before I realized that the burning desire to humiliate a girl in public meant that you must like her. That was before she learned all my secrets, refused to be pushed away, and crawled under my skin to become a hunger no amount of tabasco-laced sugar vectors could eliminate and a truth no amount of my usual trademark Michael cr*p could refute. That was before she ripped through my wall as though it were made out of tissue paper, which, of course, it is. That was before I saw, more clearly than I've ever seen anything, that loving me was bound to end up killing her, one way or another. That was then. Now, Iíd kind of like to dig up the sadist who wrote that song and demand that he come up with an answer, because I sure as hell donít know how you solve that kind of problem and this Adam Duritz guy clearly doesnít either, or he wouldnít be writing so many songs about girls named Maria.
Where was I? Oh, yeah. Counting Crows. For another thing, despite all his whining about girls named Maria, he seems even more hung up on being alone and hating himself. Which, as we all know, is what I do best. You might not think at first that thatís what his songs are about, because the pretentious words just sort of float above your head. But let me tell you, after the umpteen millionth time you definitely hear the self-pity. Why would he be talking about wishing he was beautiful and grey being his favorite color in ďMr. JonesĒ if he didnít think he was ugly and worthless? Why would he say something like, ďwhen everybody loves me, I will never be lonely,Ē if it didnít matter that he was alone? If he doesnít hate himself, why is he calling himself a ďdead man trying to get outĒ in ďPerfect Blue BuildingsĒ?
Donít get me wrong here. Iím kind of curious as to how a human could crawl inside my head and figure out how to put my cesspool of a life into words, but otherwise it doesnít get to me. Itís just an interesting phenomenon, this parallel between this Duritz guy and me. It makes me realize that pain is a universal, but it doesnít get to me at all. How could it? It's just a string of notes and words, human notes and human words. Until...
My friend assures me, ďItís all or nothing.Ē
It does not bother me to say this isnít love.
Oh, sh*t, until this song starts playing. Itís not about a girl named Maria. Itís called ďAnna Begins,Ē not ďMaria Begins.Ē Max obviously thinks itís about him, because he hits ďreplayĒ every time the CD cycles this far, and he hits it about twelve times in a row each time. But itís not about him and Liz, or him and Tess, or him and whatever the hell it is thatís bugging him enough to put us all at risk. Itís about Maria, and itís about me. And itís killing me.
My friend assures me, ďItís all or nothing.Ē
She canít stop shaking. I canít stop touching her and...
This time, when kindness falls like rain,
I canít listen to this f*cking song anymore without starting to cry. Iím sitting here under Max Evanís window, leaving an ass-shaped dent in his familyís perfectly manicured lawn, and I canít stop the tears because I may be an alien but that doesnít make me any less human.
But Iím not going to break
This time, when kindness falls like rain,
Sheís talking in her sleep. Itís keeping me awake,
I swear, Iím going to bust through that window, yank the CD out of his stereo and smash it into a million pieces. Then Iím going to slap some sense into our fearless leader, because his moping around feeling sorry for himself is going to get us all killed.
Just as soon as I stop crying, because warriors stop crying before they launch strategic assaults. Just as soon as I pull together the tatters of my wall and wrap them around the naked, needy child who never really left the desert. And just as soon as I listen to it for the umpteen-million-and-first time, because if I donít, there will be nothing to stop me from running across town to that other window and banging on it until she lets me in and never lets me out again. There we go. He hit "replay."
Oh, lord, I am so not ready for this sort of thing.
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