Category Archives: Borders

The Anniversary of A Joke

In October of 2003 I ventured into Detroit to see a concert. A friend from work, Rachel, asked me to ride along to the Majestic Theater not because I was also a fan of The Long Winters or Death Cab for Cutie, but because she did not want to go to Detroit alone. To prep for this concert Rachel made me mix CD’s of her favorite songs by the two bands, and probably offered to buy me beer. I listened to those CD’s probably once or twice before the show, but I was not ready for what was going to happen once the first band strolled onto the stage.

As John Roderick and the rest of The Long Winters started into their set opener, “Carparts”, Rachel started singing along…and dancing. Not swaying to the music dancing, but full-on shaking her ass dancing. To this point my concert-going experiences in Detroit were mostly a crowd of a thousand or so folks, bopping their heads to the music probably with their arms crossed. Almost a “we’re from Detroit asshole, we gave you Iggy Pop” pose. So seeing my friend dancing her heart out through the night was an odd experience. An experience I would not have witnessed if Rachel did not forgive me earlier in the year for a practical joke.

About five months before that show The Long Winters released their second album, When I Pretend to Fall. At the time I was working in the music department of a Borders store in Ann Arbor. One of my jobs was to prepare new releases every Monday night, and shelve them on Tuesday. It was a pretty cool gig. I got to see all the releases before-hand, and occasionally take one home to listen to before it was released. Before that release day, Rachel had asked me to set aside the one copy of When I Pretend to Fall that we would be receiving, and I told her I would.

On Tuesday morning a co-worker named Joe was going through the CD’s, and noticed The Long Winters on hold for Rachel. Joe once tried to drink a couple quarts of Egg Nog during his lunch, and ended up puking up the nog and his lunch before he could finish the quarts. He was always looking for a laugh, so he thought it would be funny to buy Rachel’s CD, and he did. He bought the only copy of When I Pretend to Fall we had in the building. Now I could have stopped him, but I also thought it would be pretty funny, and I knew that Joe did not care about The Long Winters at all so the CD would still end up with Rachel.

When Rachel came into the store we told her that someone had bought the CD which made her pretty upset. Not helping matters was Joe revealing that he had bought the CD (even producing the receipt), that he could not wait to listen to it, and that The Long Winters were the greatest band in the world. Of course, this was all done with the sarcasm and wit of a guy who puked up a bunch of Egg Nog once. I am not sure Joe had even heard of The Long Winters until that Tuesday morning, but he did a pretty decent job of pissing Rachel off. She stormed out, went to another store, and bought her own copy. We shelved our copy after Joe returned it.

I was reminded of that story because Roderick tweeted on Monday that it was the tenth anniversary of the release of When I Pretend to Fall making it the tenth anniversary of that practical joke. I am not sure how long after that day Rachel was mad at us, but she did eventually forgive us. It was probably done at some bar over too many drinks because I drank a bit too much 10 years ago. This forgiveness eventually led to me ending up in the Majestic Theater with dancing Rachel. I saw her dance two more times at concerts with The Long Winters over the next year, and eventually became a pretty big fan of the band myself.

Because of the anniversary I listened to When I Pretend to Fall for the first time in ages. I think it still holds up pretty well, but I am a sucker for a collection of good pop songs. It also made me think about Joe and Rachel, two people I have not spoken to in a very long time. They both quit Borders long before I did, and moved on. One of my many faults is that I am terrible at staying in touch with people I rarely see. It does not mean that I forget about them, or the significance they have on my life, but it means they become a story for me to retell. On this blog to no one, instead of over drinks in a bar with my friends.

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