by Jill Boyd
I would rather undergo a biopsy than listen to the Dave Matthews Band.
That’s probably a real thing I’ve said aloud. On more than one occasion.
But I guess it got lost in translation somewhere along the way. Because apparently the Universe heard, “I would like to undergo a biopsy while listening to the Dave Matthews Band.” And dammit if she didn’t deliver.
So it was last year that I was lying on an examination table, wearing a paper gown thinner than O.J.’s alibi, listening to a soft rock radio station and making a mental note that Xanax and Vicodin were hands down, the best combination to bless my life since the morning I realized I was out of blueberries and used Oreos in my pancakes instead.
The doctor told me that the procedure was going to be painful but that it would be over soon.
I closed my eyes. I felt cold. I felt scared. I felt alone. I felt … oh my God, is that the song I think it is?
Yes, it was. It was a Dave Matthews Band song. And it made me laugh out loud.
My doctor raised an eyebrow and asked if I was OK. “Yes,” I said, “I’m OK.”
What I should have said was, “I’m cackling like a nutberry right now because that’s what happens when I’m anxious and on a cocktail of prescription pills. Because it’s too ridiculous that this particular music is serving as the soundtrack to a few of the most unpleasant minutes of my life. Because in my drugged-up state, the lyrics to this song sound to me like ‘I was there when the bear ate his head, thought it was candy.’”
No, wait. Those are the actual lyrics.
So, what’s my deal with Dave Matthews?
Gather ’round, children, and let me take you back to a time long, long ago called the late-1990s. Facebook was years away from existence, Oprah had just introduced America to Dr. Phil, thereby ruining our great nation, and my high school-college boyfriend and I were having troubles and decided to spend some time apart.
While we were separated, I took the time to re-examine how I defined my self-worth, to reassess my goals and my dreams, and to sob uncontrollably every 43 minutes.
He, on the other hand, took another girl to a Dave Matthews Band concert. And not just any other girl but a girl who mocked me in middle school by calling me “Can’t See the Sheets” in reference to my pale legs — legs that, for the next decade, I would feel ashamed of and to which I would apply every brand of self-tanning lotion ever produced, only to inevitably end up looking like an oompa-loompa had mated with a zebra.
My boyfriend and She Who Shall Not Be Named apparently got to feeling all warm and mushy inside while listening to Dave Matthews sing about sleeping inside his lover’s mouth (yes, those are real lyrics, too) and, in the words of Elaine Benes (of Seinfeld fame), yada yada yada.
We reconciled a few weeks later. He confessed his transgression. And I completely, totally, rationally blamed Dave Matthews for the whole thing.
A year later, we broke up for good, and, eventually, I stopped disliking Dave Matthews because my heart had been shattered by something that happened at his concert.
Instead, I started disliking Dave Matthews because I found his new music — how do you say? — ah yes, meh — and a lot of his fan base difficult to stomach. I had met enough “Dave” fans who referred to their cologne as “whore bait” and to part of the female anatomy as “a hatchet wound” to know I didn’t want to be any part of their world.
And when I say I didn’t want to be any part of their world, I obviously meant that I would enter into a subsequent, long-term relationship with a HUGE Dave Matthews Band fan.
During one of our first conversations, he told me that he regularly traveled hundreds, if not thousands, of miles to see Dave play live, that he was one of the longest-standing members of the band’s “Warehouse” fan club, and that I shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that his steadfast, years-long commitment to a subpar rock band was any indication that he was ready, willing or able to make a substantive emotional commitment to me.
OK, he didn’t tell me that last thing, but he really should have.
So how did I break the news to him that I would rather have part of my body removed and sent to a laboratory to be examined under a microscope than sit through a Dave Matthews Band set.
I didn’t have the heart to tell him on our first date.
I also didn’t have the heart to tell him on our third date, when we sat on his couch listening to dozens of Dave Matthews songs with no words that all sounded the same and lasted at least 15 minutes each, and I kept thinking of Aaron Ralston, the rock climber who sawed off his own arm with a pocket knife after he became trapped for five days, and how lucky he was to have been given the gift of at least 60 Dave Matthews-free hours.
A few weeks into our budding relationship, he invited me to attend a Dave Matthews concert with him. I said yes, understanding that turning down an offer from a Dave devotee to attend a concert is tantamount to shooting a baby dolphin in front of a litter of Golden Retriever puppies.
I tried so hard to be into it. I awkwardly bobbed my head and closed my eyes like so many people around me were doing, and — heaven help me — I even tried to sing along to some of the songs, which went a little something like this: “SATELLITE hmm hmm hmm hmm. WHAT AM I DOING HERE hmm, hmmm hmmm hmm hmm hmm hmmm hmm hmm hmm SATELLITE hmmm hmm hmm hmm hmmm THAT GUY TWO ROWS IN FRONT OF ME AND THE HATCHET WOUND NEXT TO HIM ARE LITERALLY THE WORST PEOPLE ON EARTH. Hmm hmmmmmmmm hmm hmmm SATELLITE.”
It was exhausting. The next day I felt like I’d been hit by a truck.
Which was probably because I had been hit by a truck.
Yes, the day after I not only went to a Dave Matthews concert but also waved my arms above my head in that liberal-arts-college-kid kind of way and pretended I belonged there. I got hit by a truck while walking across the street. Obviously, I had upset the balance of the Universe, and this was the result.
My injuries from the accident are long healed, as are my emotional scars from the eventual dissolution of my relationship with Dave’s Biggest Fan, to whom I never really confessed my true feelings about the Dave Matthews Band. They remained locked in the vault called Things My Boyfriend Doesn’t Need to Know About Me, a vault containing other goodies like “I pay someone to clean my house and then leave cleaning products scattered around so you’ll think I did it myself.”
Now I’m older and wiser and can say on a first date with the man to whom I will eventually become engaged, “So, let’s just get it all out there: Are you an NRA member or a Dave Matthews Band fan or anything like that?”
Now I can choke on my drink when he says, “One out of two is manageable; right?” and I find myself hoping that he’s about to reveal he has a life-sized cut-out of Charlton Heston in his apartment.
Jill Boyd is a local freelance writer.
* This article is reprinted, with permission, from Philly Current Magazine. For more information, visit www.phillycurrent.com.