Pam drove and a song came on the radio, some pop song sung by a man begging a woman to let him love her. She laughed, cynical and rude, and turned the song up loud on crackling speakers of a car that was nearly as old as she was, singing along because she knew the lyrics. Pop songs, no matter how much Pam did not care for them, were endlessly memorable, tapping into her subconscious with their easy lyrics and grade school rhymes. This had something to do with music theory or how all people were similarly simple to manipulate.
A warm wind whipped through the open windows of her car but she did not feel free. She hated that about Los Angeles – its in ability to cooperate or compliment her most miserable moods. Some days you just needed a rainy fucking day, sitting in your window and bemoaning your fate like the ugliest, most unwanted puppy in the pet shop. But no, LA, with its trees that were green year-round and its skies that were blue 90% of the time, made you feel like the depressed freak at the Happy Circus, the introverted, gothic sister of the homecoming queen.
The song continued, the singer humming and hawing in a smooth R & B way. He was trying to pry this woman away from her bad boyfriend, promising her love and protection and material things that girls supposedly care about. These were things Pam had heard before, nearly verbatim, and she laughed again, amazed at man’s collective ability to feel conviction in love. She had learned not to trust these convictions, instead seeing them as intense, fleeting things that meant nothing down the line. There was no use reciprocating in the lies in order to create a grounded reality in emotions, a false sense of permanence. Change was inevitable in life. Love was as unstable as anything else.
Pam hated that pop culture immortalized these passing phases, making it appear as though love was as permanent as this very unchangeable song, burned onto CDs and MP3s, fated to exist in this song-state forever. It would always be 4:07 minutes long and the lyrics would never change. A finished product. Pam thought about the man who wrote this song and who he wrote it about and she could bet a million dollars that they were already over, that he was already bored with this girl. Still, the song lived on as this constant thing, conning listeners that this love was equally definite. And so love’s lie is propagated like a sourceless rumor.
You should let me love you
Give you everything you want and need
“I need a whole lot more than love,” Pam thought. Firstly, she had student loans – massive, nasty, Ivy League loans in a degree that got her a job that paid nothing and would likely continue to pay her nothing. Paying those off would have a tangible, lasting impact on her life in terms of real interest. A boy, however, with his love and promises, was temporary, despite any professions of the contrary. Pam felt bad for the poor sucker she dated next and the one after that and the one after that and that and that, each one getting less and less of the real her because the previous ones had taken away her ability to give, the desire to expose herself. Despite what people said, behind walls could be a quite comfortable place to live.
She felt herself hardening, turning more doubtful of men as she got older. Pam had stopped believing the things that boys told her, no matter how enthusiastic they were about her or how genuine they seemed. They were all salesmen, feeding you the right lines to sell you the last lemon on the lot. They were bankers, taking your money with promises of great returns and buying yachts in the Caribbean for themselves. They were professional, hammer-wielding destroyers of things.
When the song ended another one came on – this one sad and depressingly and not as easily mocked. She flipped through immediately before it could drag her down. Fuck sad songs. When she Pam was sad, she wanted to listen to Britney Spears. Pop. Garbage. Tasteless and easily swallowed. She wanted to listen to songs that appealed to the part of her brain that longed to remain in third grade, when the most trying part of her day was realizing that her mother accidentally gave her her brother’s lunch. Turkey sandwich on white bread and not ham sandwich on wheat. Back when boys had cooties and she still loved her parents without question because she hadn’t found out they were just people yet.
She stopped at a classic rock station, holding it on a song she recognized. She held it there until she was sad all over again. Bob Dylan, you mother fucker. The man had an uncanny ability to con you into thinking his songs were upbeat and lifting with his squirrely harmonica and a quick guitar, but his lyrics hit your sad button with an creeping force. Pam didn’t change the song. She didn’t slam on the shuffle button or sing along. The song sat next to her in the car and she would travel with it for a time until it was over. The sun beat down through Pam’s window, bouncing off of her pale thighs and her smudged Ray Ban’s, exposing the dent on the hood of her car along with other damaged things.