Needlessly provocative post averted

by david

I was three paragraphs into a post about not giving a shit about the new Smashing Pumpkins album when I realized it was:

a) exactly the sort of horseshit the Internet specializes in, and

b) not even entirely true, therefore (see point a, above).

The fact is, I will probably never hear the new Smashing Pumpkins album. I like Gish and love Siamese Dream and once met Billy Corgan and he was quite pleasant: stoned and wry. I had it in my head that I hated Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness with some great intensity, but as I started to type it, I realized that other than “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” (which I’d be thrilled to never hear again), that’s not true at all. I mean, it’s exactly the thing I’d expect 17-year-old me to like: a much-anticipated rock album that opened with a wordless piano track that led into “Tonight, Tonight”, a song that differed from Corgan’s earlier best work only in the budget he had to record it. That led to “Jellybelly”, where we hear the sound we expected, but…oh, shit, now I’m reviewing a 17 year old album out of remorse. I’ll stop. Anyway, I’m listening to it now, and even “Bullet” isn’t as terrible as I thought it was.

The reason I thought I hated the album so much isn’t the album itself (which yes, is bloated and not the equal of the albums before it), but the poster my freshman year roommate had over his bed. My roommate–who in hindsight I understand to be a terribly nice and shy guy dealing with a life far more difficult than mine was–had a Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness poster over his bed, and we didn’t get along. And by “didn’t get along,” I mean that our relationship led to a conversation between me and the dorm administrator that included this exchange:

Me: There must be some way for me to change roommates.

Her: I can’t move you unless the situation is medical or legal.

Me: I can make it both.

She wasn’t amused by this.

I did every damn thing I could to get rid of my roommate, even arranging with a near-stranger to swap roommates, figuring the worst outcome was that I’d change one terrible roommate for another. My roommate nixed the plan, saying, “What if I don’t like him?” In retrospect, this kills me. At the time, it was infuriating. I thought he did it just to make my life even worse. I didn’t realize what it really meant: as shitty as our relationship was, I was better than the unknown.

And now I realize why. I mean, NOW, I realize why. It didn’t occur to me until I got to the last paragraph. I knew my roommate was gay, and I didn’t care. He wasn’t out, and as far as I know, didn’t come out for a couple more years. It didn’t occur to me then that his having a terrible relationship with somebody who didn’t care he was gay was better than having to worry about somebody being uncomfortable or hostile towards him because of it. I also didn’t realize that half of the hostility I did direct at him had little to do with him at all. I was so angry for that entire year about personal stuff that had nothing to do with him, that I wouldn’t have gotten along with anybody randomly assigned to me. It was a shitty situation in our prison-cell-sized tower dorm room. I hated that he didn’t clean up after himself, he hated that I was up at all hours. He kept borrowing my computer and not taking good care of it. I kept blasting music that he hated. We could have talked and agreed to some rules. But we didn’t. We just treated each other like shit.

And hanging on the wall in the middle of it: Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.

Holy shit. I can’t believe I never thought about it before. I had a completely false understanding of a major moment in my own life, and I had the wrong idea because I was right in the middle of it and angry.

I ain’t Buddhist, but the Buddhists surely have something to teach me…