Breakup song: a Saint John musician's super-sad Kijiji ad
Buying a crazy metalhead guitar was a mistake, but writing ad was 'cathartic,' says Adam Kierstead
Breakups can make people act crazy. Ill-advised haircuts. Impulsive phone calls. Late-night stalking on Facebook.
When his nine-year, live-in relationship ended, Saint John musician Adam Kierstead, 33, decided to splurge on a new guitar.
Not just any guitar: a Gibson Reverse Explorer. An angular, limited-edition, metalhead-style instrument, hearkening back to rock involving spandex, big hair, and pyrotechnics. It was an odd choice for a musician known in the Saint John music scene for his subdued, laconic talent.
But "whenever you have a big life change, there's a temptation to do something impulsive," said Kierstead, the guitarist for numerous bands, including Reagan's Rayguns, the Tooth and the Fang, Bad People, and Penny Blacks.
Maybe there was also "a shred of hope," said Kierstead, a self-described "irredeemable nerd," that the guitar's rocker vibes would, somehow, rub off. But things didn't quite work out that way.
Epic Kijiji ad
On Nov. 19, Kierstead took to Saint John Kijji to try to sell the post-breakup impulse buy — with an ad as weird as the guitar itself.
The item description opens in cinematic fashion:
"September of last year. The leaves were starting to turn as we drove home from a friend's wedding in Cape Breton in relative silence. Almost nine years together — most of them good — but we both knew we were growing apart …"
The wryly dramatic 800-word ad goes on to detail the pain of watching his ex thrive after the breakup, the ignominy of continuing to live on a camping cot in her storage room, and his general state of misery.
"I don't want to say that I embellished in the ad," he said. "I didn't. It was a literal retelling in most ways."
Of playing the guitar for the first time at Long and McQuade, Kierstead writes, "my opportunity for in-character wanton recklessness had finally arrived. What was I doing, I thought — I'd always been more Mascis than Mustaine, more Steve Malkmus than Steve Vai, more Kozelek than Kerry King. I plugged the guitar in and cackled as I fumbled through a couple of Slayer riffs (I did an awful job). This was perfect."
A year later, he concludes, he sees the purchase was a mistake.
"I can't play anything as completely badass as a Reverse Explorer in good conscience," he writes. "I have a Duo-Sonic. My amps don't even have distortion channels, for crying out loud. I have to pass this thing along to someone deserving. It truly is time to move on."
He wraps up by offering to trade the guitar for a ventless dryer.
"I'm not a Reverse Explorer guy, I'm a ventless dryer guy," he said. "That's me."
"Thanks for reading," the ad closes. "Really, I'm fine."
Ex 'rolled her eyes'
Kierstead's ex-girlfriend, Barb Crawford, 33, said she wasn't surprised to see the ad rack up more than 1,200 views in less than one day.
"It's in keeping with what I know about him," Crawford said. "He's a really good writer."
When they were a couple, she said, "every time he would sell a guitar on Kijiji, I would roll my eyes at him: he would go into this long, drawn-out whatever: [writing about] what the guitar meant to him, where he got it, who he bought it from and what sort of music he played."
"I was like, no one cares!"
Their split "boiled down to me being extroverted and Adam being introverted and grumpy," she said. "Sometimes opposites attract, but in this case it just didn't work out."
Kierstead asked for her permission to "leverage their breakup" before writing the ad, she said.
"We're still friends. I still go to his shows," she said. "I hope he sells the guitar."
For sale: breakup guitar
Kierstead hasn't had any serious offers on the $900 instrument yet.
"It's an eye-catching guitar," he said. "It's something a little bit off the beaten path. If someone could play it in a tongue-in-cheek way, that would be good."
But he did feel better, he said, after writing the story out — and even received some "really nice, sympathetic messages."
In addition to the reminder that love makes us all do crazy things, there's a broader lesson to take away from the ad.
"When the world is pretty bad and getting worse all the time in big, important ways," Kierstead said, "it's important to introduce a little levity, when we can."