I went to college in a small town in New Mexico because I got a scholarship to go there. Because it was such a small town, there wasn't a whole lot to do on the weekends besides go to parties and drink. This is not a bad thing. Concrete Blonde released their classic album, Bloodletting, in 1990, the year spanning my freshman and sophmore years. The song "Joey" about a failed and destructive relationship between the narrator and the title character is on this album, and it is awesome. It's every bad relationship you've ever had in 4 minutes and 10 seconds.

Not surprisingly, it makes me think of this guy I used to know named Joey. Joey was beautiful - dark hair, blue eyes, a fair complexion like that found on maids in old poems, just beautiful. Joey and I never went out. We never had a bad relationship. He was a friendly acquaintance, in fact, the kind of guy I said hi to at parties and chatted with for a minute before seeking out more likely prospects. Joey also wasn't a crazy falling-down self destructive drunk, like the titular character of the song, either. He drank, he got drunk, but no more or less than any of us did in those days, at least, not as far as I know.

I think of him in relation to this song because we had a bonfire once. It was in the fall, and chilly out, and there were a whole bunch of us there, all drinking and laughing around a huge heap of brush that was probably a violation of, like, 50 fire codes, but we were out in the middle of the desert and thought no one could see us. And I found myself standing next to Joey. The firelight flickered off his perfect skin and his light eyes. He looked unreal.

"Hey, Jay," he said.

"Hey," I said. He took a sip of beer from a plastic cup. I waited to see if there would be anything else.

"You ever love someone, but you know you'll never get them?" he asked.

I laughed. "Every day," I said. I was thinking "hasn't everyone?" Coming fresh from high school, land of the Unrequited Love, I thought that everyone had been through the "He Doesn't Know I Exist" phase. Apparently, I was wrong, because Joey said

"oh." He seemed surprised. I didn't ask him who he was referring to, and I never did find out, but it broke my heart a little every time I saw him after that, the thought that this gorgeous and nice boy could love someone who would never love him back. It's the same way the song breaks my heart, the narrator pining over Joey, who is off on his own and desperate and who will still never come back to her. It's a great great song.


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