Long story short, through this process, I stumbled upon a rather sexy recording called “Nuit et Jour” from 1988 by Al B. Sure, the French version of his hit single "Night and Day." The French version didn't appear on his album back in 1988, but it did on the flip side of the cassette single, which I'm about to tell you about.
Don’t bother playing it just now; let me finish my story …
Well, I got her.
But here’s the deal--she was boring.
I take that back; she wasn’t boring. We were boring together.
We only shared a couple of common interests--rock music and that new fall series Beauty and the Beast starring Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman. Beyond that there wasn’t much to talk about. She didn’t like my movies; I didn’t like hers. She didn’t read comic books like I did, and I didn’t like sports like she did (although that changed a couple of years later). We didn’t really care about politics, and she didn’t share my obsessive love of beer.
What’s more, we didn’t know how to talk to each other.
That may sound weird, and it was even weirder to our non-mutual friends. I was a gregarious, personable guy back then who had no trouble striking up conversations and making friends at parties. And by all accounts, Ginger was the same kind of person, a vibrant presence in social situations who drew people to her like moths to a flame.
And yet, when the two of us were together … well, we were different. We were less outgoing, less personable, less gregarious, as if the dynamic parts of our personalities were canceling each other out. What’s more, we didn’t just withdraw around other people; we withdrew around each other. To this day, I don’t remember a single rich conversation we had together. We were just kind of … there.
I tried on several occasions to make the break, even planning when and where it would be. But then she’d smile and flash those amazing blue eyes and say that she loved me. That pretty much ended any breakup talk.
I had another internal block as well--I had never broken up with anyone before. Always in the past, I was the one who wore out the girl with my manic energy and bizarre tangents, and she would do the heart-breaking (testament to my awesome wife for sticking it out almost 17 years now). I simply had no experience administering the same kind of pain. I knew that Ginger was crazy about me for some reason--at least she acted like it--so it seemed bloody cruel to hurt her.
As such, we kept the relationship on life support for exactly 365 days, 366 if you count Leap Year in 1988.
The summer of 1988, I decided that the only way to get rid of Ginger was to act like a jerk. I certainly wasn’t man enough to do the breaking myself, so I started getting angry with her all the time, avoiding her when she called, canceling dates, and spending more times with my buddies than with her. Finally, on Monday, August 1, 1988, I got my wish.
I had the day off, and I had been spending the afternoon at a buddy’s house watching movies and getting drunk. Late in the afternoon, I remembered a bottle of scotch back at my apartment, so I excused myself to drive over and grab it. When I walked into the door of my apartment, I noticed that the light on the answering machine was blinking--one message.
“Hey Matt, this is Ginger,” the message began. “Um, I don’t think we should see each other anymore. Please don’t call me and try to talk me out of it. Okay? Bye.”
I reached into my fridge, pulled out a beer, popped the top, and cheered. At last, I was free of this dead weight, this albatross about my neck like the Ancient Mariner. Now I could go and do as I pleased, no longer worrying about Ginger’s schedule or whether or not I was giving her sufficient time on weekends.
I drained the beer, hopped into my car, and drove back to my buddy’s house, cranking the radio up as “Would I Lie To You?” by the Eurythmics was just ending. That was when the next song played--“Night and Day” (the English version) by Al B. Sure.
That song kicked me in the teeth.
I pulled over to the side of the street, listened to the song, and wept. I wept for a very long time. I wept for the loss of Ginger, and for yet another heartbreak that at the time felt so unjustified (he, I never said I was rational). Something about the haunting and almost dreamlike quality of A B. Sure’s ballad just burned my heart.
But it was enough.
I drove to the record store to buy a cassette single of Al B. Sure’s “Night and Day” (I didn’t have enough money for the whole album). To my surprise, on the flip side of the cassette was “Nuit et Jour,” Al B. Sure’s French arrangement of the same hit song.
I think I spent a good two months in my apartment after class and before my job and all through the night, playing “Nuit et Jour” and feeling sorry for myself. I didn’t go to the clubs because I had heard that Ginger met another guy (on the Saturday before she broke up with my answering machine, in fact), and I didn’t want to see them together.
After almost a year trying to think of a way to get rid of her, I suddenly couldn’t live without her … all because of a stupid song.
So ... today I just listened to this song again. You know what? It almost feels the same.
Now, I’m happily married, in love with my wife, and although I do think of past loves now and then, Ginger has not been one of them. There was nothing memorable about our time together, no defining moment that sticks in my memory. Hell, I probably wouldn’t even remember what she looked like if I didn’t have my old yearbooks.
Still, when I play this song … this is weird. I don’t pine for Ginger or long for the past. Rather, I romanticize the heartbreak. I sort of dwell on that moment at the side of the road, weeping for my loss, and on those days and nights in my apartment, drinking, feeling sorry for myself, and playing the song over and over.
I kind of like that twinge of pain the song gives me. It reminds me that I’m human. But most if all, it reminds me of what an asshole I used to be.
Why did I fall into such a self-indulgent funk over a girl I had spent months trying to get rid of? Because that was how I was conditioned to behave. I was immature, and I honestly believed that this is what you did after a break-up; hell, it was what I did after every previous break-up! In other words, I didn't really miss Ginger or mourn the relationship's end so much as I acted out based only on what I knew.
And that's pretty damn sad. Today, the song reminds me of this fact, and it kind of embarrasses me in the process. It puts me in a trance and then pulls me back out. It takes me to a melancholy place and then slaps me and says, “What the hell are you doing here?”
My old college roommate often said that music is the soundtrack of our lives. This is one track that I wish had ended up on the cutting room floor.