"Nirvana or Pearl Jam? You're breaking my balls here Tara. That's like asking me to choose a favorite between my cousins, nephews and nieces. It can't be done. But I will try, for you.
When I think of those two bands, I think 1994, when I was a Junior in high school. Back then the answer would unevicobly have been Pearl Jam. Everyone forgets this now, but when Vitalogy came out, it was the biggest thing in music. Sure, Nirvana had videos on MTV, but that's because they actually made videos. Pearl Jam's feuds with TicketMaster, their refusal to make videos, Eddie Vedder's shying from the spotlight -- all of these things, combined with their great songs, made them absolutely the biggest band in the world at the time. And my favorite. Song for song, there's really no comparison. Black. Once. Porch. Alive. Even Flow. Animal. Jeremy. Go. Corduroy. Do the Evolution. Daughter. Elderly Woman Behind the Counter. Betterman. Yellow Ledbetter. And that one slow song. All of these are as good or better than the best Nirvana song.
But then Cobain kills himself. Suddenly Nirvana is huge. Like Hendrix for Gen X. They release two post-humous live/unplugged albums that sell big and Pearl Jam is pushed into the obscurity granted to Yesterday's Stars. By 1996 even Soundgarden was more popular. Nirvana had what, four good songs? Soundgarden had three. Pearl Jam had like 20. And they're #3. Of course.
Not to me. I'm never one to follow the ebb and flow of pop culture. I still prefer Lionel Richie to Luther Vandross. I still think Def Leppard is better than Bon Jovi. And, frankly my dear, I still think Pearl Jam is better than Nirvana.
Sometime before our Last Kiss, hopefully I can convince you of that. Incidentally, that's the name of their slow song I couldn't remember two paragraphs ago. Last Kiss. You bet.
A few weeks ago, we were sitting in the breakroom after work having a beer, watching the 1998 Rose Bowl on ESPN Classic -- hilarious because not only was it the year Michigan split the National title with Nebraska, thus pissing off every Husker fan who came in, but Ryan Leaf was the opposing QB for Washington State, thus adding an element of comedy to the whole thing. There's comedy, there's high comedy, and then there's watching Ryan Leaf quarterback the Cougars knowing what we know now.
Anyway, it was with that scenery that our story begins. While watching the 98 Rose Bowl that night, Eddie's cell phone rang and he didn't want to answer it. (Real name changed for the purpose of this story so as not to reveal his identity). The display read "TARA L.", a girl who he was apparently avoiding. Then it dawned on me who it was, and I implored him to answer. He replied, "If you want it answered so bad, you do it! Cos I'm not."
So I grabbed the phone and answered "Chico's Bail Bonds, this is Chico." This was the girl he'd met at a party a couple weeks back, and was too afraid to call for a date. Now she was calling him! Only I answered. And you know me, I'm chatty. We talked for like 10 minutes, arguing about whether Charles was actually ever in charge of anything; about whether Scott Baio was better in Happy Days, Joanie Loves Chachie or Charles in Charge; and whether Nicole Eggert (who played the blonde daughter) and Charles were sleeping together outside of the script. Then, under the guise of being Eddie, I came right out and asked her to dinner. And the room went from rolling in laughter to a stoic silence.
See, the problem now was she thought he was the gold mine of pop culture information that I am, and when they actually went out, he would be discovered to be a fraud. Or worse, as disinterested.
He was screwed, basically.
The next day he came up to me and told me I'd gotten him into this mess, and now I had to help him out of it. He had an email from Tara asking him his preference: Nirvana or Pearl Jam. And he being a country music guy had no clue. Asked me to respond. I was pissed and amused all at once, but also felt some sense of needing to help a man out of a hole I had dug for him -- although it really was his fault, he should have just answered the damn phone himself. I can tell you right now, when a girl calls my cell, I answer that damn thing. But I digress.
I decided to respond in such a manner that would make the mess even bigger. I phoned it in, folks --not even bothering to worry about being factually correct, I rambled off a multi-paragraph answer that went a little something like this:
Oh, he was totally screwed now.
How hilarious is that? The story does have a happy ending, as they've been dating for three weeks now and are hitting it off quite well, despite his utter inability to be That Guy From The Email or Phone Call. And I'm stuck with an invite and no date for a half-million-dollar wedding in January, complete with 24k Gold embossing on the invite and a required dress code of tuxedo and evening gown -- hell, I can't even get a girl to agree to go as friends just to watch the rich and famous of Omaha and enjoy a $500 meal for free. This is a wedding where, among other things, they're flying in a chef from Paris for the day to cook the banquet.
I suppose that's what I deserve for this little bit of deception. Karma is a bitch best not slapped.
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