Alone: A Love Story

Chapter 15: The New World

Rock Lobster, being Italian, a man in my kitchen and advice from an ex-husband ...
I hold in the tears and the anger and the blinding, corrosive feeling of failure and I just make the pasta. I make it. I just make it. (Ben Shannon/CBC)
Listen to the full episode27:30

The New World

It's true that every single chapter of Alone: A Love Story could be called The New World, because that's basically what it's all about! Me, thrust into the unknown, charting a course for the new world.

But in this episode in particular, I talk about how some of the most simple things in life (food, dancing, advice) can become the most complicated when you're thrust into a new world you aren't prepared for.

Everything important happens at the table

The vignette Food is actually two vignettes we put together. Originally it was was just a little story about me struggling to make the pasta in my new life while Birdie shows me a drawing she made of her two homes.

But as Alone producer Veronica Simmonds and I were talking about it one day, we realized I had more in me to say about food. Especially how I have a really hard time eating alone, and more importantly WHY it's so hard for me.

So I went digging through my notes and found some stuff I'd written about eating alone and how I grew up with the dinner table being the centre of family life. It was also central to the family I built with The Husband, as I talked about in Chapter 8: Left and Leaving.

So I took those notes and turned them into the rest of this vignette. And again it made Veronica cry and again, when she mixed it and I heard it for the first time, it made me cry.

I know it's a pretty romantic vision of my childhood and my culture, but I also want you to know that it actually was like that. And I miss it a lot.

Michelle can’t eat alone. 0:42

Everywhere we lived together, we danced

In the first condo we bought together after we married, we got a new stereo and there we danced to Outkast and Justin Timberlake CDs in the big open-concept loft, like we were the only two people at a club.

Man, when that double Outkast album came out in 2003, we were all bananas for it. Everyone loved the hit single Hey Ya! but The Husband and I could not get enough of Way You Move. And the video for that song is the best too, check it out. I love the choreography SO much and the way they mixed old styles with new. We just thought it was the coolest back then.

There goes a narwhal!

Once we danced to "Rock Lobster" falling on the ground each time they sang "down, down, down…" just like when we were teenagers.

If you don't know what I'm talking about there, it's this: every time The B-52s song Rock Lobster would play at a club or a school dance or wherever, at a certain part of the song ("down, down … ") everyone would fall down and lie on the dance floor. Seriously, this is what we all did. Lie on the gross floor of the school gym and the even grosser floor of a dance club or bar. I don't know where this tradition came from, so I just looked it up! And now you can too.

Rock Lobster is one of those songs, you know? A novelty party song you don't think much of until you hear it again and it's like: How long is this song? Was it always SO long? What do you mean it came out in 1978? I totally thought it was the 80s! How did such a weird and wonderful song like this ever become a hit?

I'll tell you!

Rock Lobster runs almost seven minutes long (6:50 to be exact!) which is pretty long, especially when the last half of it is made-up sea creature sounds.

It did not come out in the 80s contrary to our sense of the 80s. Written and first released as a single in 1978 (that version was only five minutes), it was released again in 1979 as the lengthy version we all know and love. Two extra minutes to pack in some more sea creatures and clever non-sequiturs!

It wasn't just a cult classic either, Rock Lobster cracked the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. and get this — it went to #1 in Canada in the spring of 1980.

Canadians have a long history of liking oddball musicians with interesting voices and impressionistic lyrics (Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Gord Downie, to name only a small few!) so I'm not surprised that we loved the wacky magic that is Rock Lobster all the way to #1.

Also in music nerd news about this song, did you know that when John Lennon heard it for the first time, he was inspired to get back into making music after taking five years off to raise Sean?

That means that Rock Lobster is the reason we now have Double Fantasy, Lennon and Ono's beautiful and strange masterpiece, and one of my favourite albums of all time. Thank you, The B-52s!

Revival (the place) and Revival (the man)

It was Soul Train night, the night I went to Revival (the place) with my pals The Bright One, Solo Time and Big Laugh. I haven't mentioned her in the podcast so far, but my friend Pint Size was also with us.

I love dancing, but Soul Train night is not my jam. I love the music, but my body doesn't know what's what. It was still fun to watch Big Laugh and The Bright One dance though.

At the end of the night we ended up in the supermarket near Revival because the girls were all hungry. I was wayyyyy too drunk to eat, or even think about eating. They seriously bought a ton of chicken wings and a giant bottle of Sriracha and we all went back to Solo Time's house so they could cook and eat them while I barfed and passed out. This should give you a sense of how grown women have a sleepover party.

Jerk salmon on my wedding china.

Anyway, that's the night, one year exactly from The Bomb, that I met a man with the exact same birthdate as The Ex-husband. The man I nickname Revival, after the place we met.

Anddddddd you hear all about him and my first little glimpse of what it's like to date like a normal person and do normal things like have a man that isn't my father cook dinner for me. 

But nothing is ever as simple as it seems, eh? Revival becomes a complicated part of my story. Until one day he just isn't. But that's later!

Advice from an Ex-husband

My (in)famous red book.

Here in Season 2, in Chapter 15, we are still chronologically in the early part of 2013.

A time when I'm still writing all of my conquests into a list called "Black Book" inside of my little red notebook.

A time where I'm still seeing The Ex-husband and diligently recording our trysts in the red notebook.

A time when he gives me terrible advice. It's not a good time for me. But things are about to improve, because a few months later Kaboom! Kapow! 

The Man with the White Shirt and I will see each other across a crowded room and all bets are off.

I start a list about him in the red book, but after a while it's impossible to keep up with and I eventually give up.

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