“Love Dog” – TV on the Radio
This song begins moody and synth-y, with simple notes and drum clicks. It sounds lonely—modern, too. It’s the kind of song you listen to in the car, staring morosely out the window at the city lights, when distances are shiny and static. Let’s be honest: It’s the kind of thing you listen to when you’re fucked up.
I knew the whole thing was a mistake. He had a girlfriend he called an ex-girlfriend. But I’d lost a family and a house in the space of about six months, so I was ready to wreck some people.
And anyway, I liked the way he looked. Walnut brown skin, those chunky glasses intellectuals wear low on his nose, large flat hands with long fingers, and a reddish tint to his hair, tied back in dreadlocks. Most of all, I liked the way he always had a book in his hands. So, I drank whiskey with him – glass for glass – and talked about books and poured money into the jukebox. I let him lie. I didn’t care! I had become a romantic cynic, one of those real trainwreck girls.
When I hear the song now, I think about a park in Scottsdale, Arizona. I see green grass that shouldn’t be there in an unsustainable desert, a pond that we—two transplanted Midwesterners—joked contained crawdads, and a set of swings too small for us. I imagine a hard-plastic castle where we sat, legs dangling, and tried our best to devour one another. The air was bone dry every night, and every night I was out way too late.
I never claimed him, and I wasn’t surprised when the misguided affair stopped. That song, though! It calls to other, equally heady, equally misguided affairs.
My first kiss happened under the wood-plank bridge of a jungle gym, my teenage toes curling in the sand. One of my great loves, a man I still wonder about, peered at me with a smile and a slightly confused look on his face as we both twisted slowly on playground swings, digging our feet deeper in the hard-packed dust.
“timid little teether … I know why you cry out, desperate and devout.”
Why else do lovers seek out dark playgrounds.