That Time I Saw a Girl with a Broken Heart Destroy the Man Who Broke It

Not long ago, Iain and I were dining out at a local franchise of a regional chain. It's one of those places with big screen televisions for major sporting events and a decent reasonably-priced menu and slightly dated music playing slightly too loudly.

Everything sort of fades into the background there. I've been in the place a dozen times and couldn't tell you what color the walls are. But the waitstaff is friendly, the bathroom is clean, and the fries are killer, so the fact that everything else is suitable enough to be unnoticeable is fine. That is, in fact, the whole point. Remember what's good; forget the rest.

Anyway. This particular day, we were there at an odd time. It was past lunch but too early for dinner. The place was mostly empty. We were eating and chatting, when suddenly the background penetrated my consciousness. I stopped in the middle of my sentence; Iain looked at me and I pointed upwards. Listen to the music. He let the music come into his consciousness, too, and we both began to laugh.

Because what was playing slightly too loudly was 20 Fingers and Gillette's "(Don't Wanna) Short Dick Man."

It was the censored version, in which the lyrics are "Don't wanna a short, short man," but Iain and I were both alive — and spending some amount of time in dance clubs — in the '90s, so we knew the song. And probably would have figured it out even if we didn't, heh.

"I don't think this is a track on the corporate playlist," I said.

"No," Iain agreed, laughing.

I craned my neck to look over the row of banquets in which we were seated, toward the kitchen. Two young women, one of whom was our server, were huddled together. One was leaning forward, her shoulders curled in, smothering a laugh into her hands, cupped in front of her face. The other stood with her back so straight she looked regal, one eyebrow raised, her chin resting on a shoulder so she could just see the bar out of the corner of her eye, though her back remained turned to it.

At the bar, a young man glared at her with a curled lip. He turned on a heel, tossing a hand towel onto his shoulder, and disappeared. A moment later, the track stopped and a new track started: New Found Glory's "My Friends Over You."

I had never heard this track before, but it was easy to find when I searched its lyrics: You were everything I wanted / But I just can't finish what I've started / There's no room left here on my back / It was damaged long ago / Though you swear that you are true / I still pick my friends over you / My friends over you...

"I don't think she cares, my dude," Iain said, to me.

"Round One to her," I said. We clinked glasses.

The track played its duration, and I thought for a moment that might have been it for the musical duel. But then. THEN.

The coup de grâce.

There was a moment of silence, and then came the voice of Kelly Clarkson, singing "I Don't Think About You."

And now that we are through / Nothing left to lose / I don't think about you.

I mimed dropping the mic.

"Damn," Iain said.

The track ended. The audio returned to the preselected collection of inoffensive pop songs.

Maybe a manager came in. Maybe the barback knew he'd been owned beyond hope. Maybe he was too busy crying in the bathroom, because he knew he'd blown it with a deeply clever girl who'd obviously cared about him hard enough that he could break her heart.

Iain and I went back to our meal and our conversation, and the music faded into the background again.

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