I suppose this was the point in our relationship when I should have known it was going nowhere. His text messages became less frequent and he often just sat upright in bed not doing anything at all while I was falling asleep. Still though, I tried so desperately to salvage what we had. I was on a mission to bring us back to the days when I’d bring him our favorite beer and he would make me waffles from scratch.
I was walking to work a morning shift at the restaurant when I passed the theater where I had seen Morrissey six years prior. I saw on the marquis that Neutral Milk Hotel was coming to town.
“I feel like this never happens…” I thought to myself. I immediately wondered if bringing it up would spark an interest in him. He might have thought he was too cool to know a band like them. They’re too obviously non-mainstream that they’d become mainstream and he’s simply too into Tom Waits to concern himself with the likes of them.
When I saw him again it was still distant. I’d plop myself on his bed sitting in silence while he was on the computer or playing the banjo and ask myself, “Why did he even invite me here?”
Insistent on changing this, I forced myself onto his lap and looked at his iTunes to see if Neutral Milk Hotel was there. Sure enough, I saw a number of their albums and felt obliged to mention it.
“Oh they’re coming to Boston.”
Suddenly, he became immersed. Searching the depths of the internet for a ticket. Just one ticket, though, because now he actually had a purpose behind ignoring me.
Eventually he settled on it being a project for another day and he went to sleep. I didn’t get much sleep, I became consumed with rage. How could this man not think to ask me if I wanted to go? If he didn’t want me to go, why would he look for a ticket in front of me?
The closer the date came to when they would play, the more he talked about it. I would just nod along, nostrils flared, waiting for him to instigate a conversation about why I wasn’t going to go with him.
He gasped when he finally found a pair of tickets.
“But what am I going to do with the other one?,” he asked, “I guess I could just sell it.”
“Or I could go with you,” I finally squeaked.
“Yeah I liked them a lot. It’d be nice to see them before I die.”
I guess he must have thought he dodged a bullet when he found out that he actually had the option of taking one of the two tickets. He mentioned nothing of the idea I suggested and just got the one, right in front of me.
The entire time he was doing this, I’d never felt more invisible. Entering his credit card number in the computer, I so badly wanted to just put my jacket on and leave. I couldn’t bring myself to do it, though. I guess that’s a love and weakness thing.
To add insult to injury, I did research on Neutral Milk Hotel and it furthered my fury with him. They hadn’t toured since 1998. It was their big return. It’d be the equivalent of seeing a panda giving birth or blood harvest moon. This wasn’t something that happened often. I was missing it because I was dating a man that took a great deal of pleasure watching the psychological crumble of a submissive girl.
I brought this up with some friends at a bar to see if I could gain any insight. Results were inconclusive, because most people know not to get romantically involved with a person that would shrug off your emotional stability. Or at least would know it’s too embarrassing to mention outloud.
The main issue with one of my friends, though, was if there were still tickets available. I kept reminding myself that I chose to be in a situation where I would be ignored. This was a prime example of behavior that I’ve displayed for years. At this point, I was more concerned with having this be a trophy of my failure as a romantic partner and less concerned with actually thriving.
She spent five minutes on the phone with online vendors when she found three tickets, just twenty feet from the stage. I realized that while no, he was never going to buy me a ticket or even ask me for money, that yes, I can still see Neutral Milk Hotel.
After the concert, I was in a bar with friends when I received a picture text of his ticket stub. He was so happy that his finally came. I took a picture of mine, texting back, “They put on a great show.”