Saturday, July 24, 2021

Hey Jealousy

I'm running out of ideas for the 1993 Playlist. There are two or three more tracks that remind me of personal memories or feelings - and then I'll probably have to repeat an artist or get creative.

Today's track isn't one that I feel strongly about, so go ahead and prepare those "I never liked this song" responses. Gin Blossoms originally released "Hey Jealousy" in 1989, and a re-recorded version was released in 1992. I try to exclude any songs that aren't released in 1993 - but "Hey Jealousy" charted in 1993 - and again I'm running out of songs that I like from that year.

I didn't know the backstory behind this song - or all the lyrics, really - until I heard it featured on Rob Harvilla's Podcast "60 Songs That Explain The '90s". I'm not sure if the order of selection has any meaning, but it struck me that this was the second song he discussed. It feels important to him in a way that it doesn't to me. I have one memory of this song, which will jump to the forefront of my mind whenever I hear "Hey Jealousy" anywhere, for the rest of my life.

In 1993 I was experiencing my first real, serious crush on a girl. Her name was Jessica, but everyone called her Jesse. Whenever "Hey Jealousy" would come on the radio I would immediately think (or sing) "Hey Jesse".

That's it. That's the memory. Never mind the fact that the story of the song is more mature than a seventh grade crush. This song will always be "hey, Jesse" to me.

Lately I've been feeling almost all of the emotions listed in the 'jealousy' cloud at the top of this post except for 'phenomenon' If you'd told me in 1993 that I'd still have unrequited crushes when I'm forty I'd ask you what "unrequited" means... and then I'd find the nearest exit off of this planet.

It has been an eventful eight days. I'm finally in a good place with Office Girl but boy was it a struggle getting there. She's too young and sweet and naive to know why I would purposely avoid talking to her.

It's been a strategy that I've deployed on and off for at least four months, but this particular string started one day when the bosses had all left for the day and she entered our back office. She said "Hi guys", I spun around, gave her an enthusiastic "Hey!" and turned my chair back to the desk. I let the young guy talk to her, since she'd told him "I haven't seen you in a while. I miss you!" the last time they spoke.

Then they chatted for more than thirty minutes. It's a goddamn miracle when she's able to talk for three minutes. And even though I had the opportunity - and passed - I was jealous of my co-worker because he has more in common with her and he has interesting stories and a hot car and he makes her laugh and and and..

whoops, wrong song lol

Inadequacy. After that they talked and laughed and he helped her with tech support stuff -- for three straight days -- and they were at her desk for so long that I asked my manager "Is something going on between those two?" even though I knew it kinda gave me away.  (She dismissed that thought, he was just fixing her printer.)

Which brings us to last Thursday. Manager and I were hungry. I offered to walk down the street and grab lunch because Door Dash fees are ridiculous. Walked by whatsername's desk. She wasn't there. It was hot and humid outside. I returned covered in sweat, carrying an armful of food. She was back.

"Hey!" She said cheerfully. I replied with the weakest little grunt of a "hey" and continued past her. Disgust.

Have you ever seen the end of Rollerball? If not, think of any dramatic scene where a crowd is hyped at what just happened - and gets more and more hyped until they suddenly realize this has gone too far. That was me.

But what could I do? I had been dodging her for so long that it had become second nature. My behavior was beyond explanation at this point. Helplessness.

The next day - last Friday - I thought I'd dodged her again. I entered the kitchen and... "Hey"

This time I actually replied like a functional human. We talked for a bit. I blamed a crazy amount of work for my mood. She said that she'd noticed I wasn't myself and wondered if I was just really busy, or if I was mad, or if I was going through something. ("All of that" I replied.) The chat continued via text:

hey, i just wanted you to know that it means a lot that you noticed my mood & how we dont talk much and all of that. wish i could explain but I dont like talking about myself & talking in front of everyone in the office.

Aw no problem at all! I'm so glad we were able to slightly catch up today even if it was only for 2 mins! Yes I noticed it a lot recently and I wanted to check in but I didn't want you to feel like I was in your business at all. So I kept it to myself but its nice to see you in a cheerful mood :)

Sometimes when you were up here I'd ask how you are and if I get "I'm good" then I dont push. But I completely get it to keep your personal business to yourself

Yesterday I was sweaty and hungry and had nothing interesting to say. But I did walk away feeling like a jerk once I thought about it.

I do wish we could talk more though. Maybe I'll come up there for a minute if you're not too too busy. let me know.

Aw no worries at all! Okie I'm busy right now but around 5p is cool :)

[It is at this point that I text my wife that I will be a few minutes late because we are really swamped and the bosses have all left and it's just me and Office Girl. And most of that is true.] 

In that ten minutes of extra time her attention was divided between taking phone calls and talking to me. We talked about how we never get to talk, since I'm not a supervisor and I rarely need to come up front. I told her that I'd had something to say to her but when I went up to see her, she wasn't there. I assumed that the universe was trying to tell me something. "Something good? Or something bad?" She asked, before realizing it meant "Don't be friends with that girl!" Hold this thought.

She kept asking me to wait while she takes this call, and with a customer on the line she'd mouth the words "I'm sorry" as I sat there waiting. I reassured her it was fine but after a while I couldn't wait any more.

I found a sticky note on someone else's desk, scribbled "You need a raise! Have a great weekend :)" on it, and stuck it to her desk while she was on the phone. She smiled and waved. I went home happy. 

Monday was another nice day and I went out to eat again. This time I stopped at the Cuban place on the corner. Realizing that a) OG was working Friday afternoon-evening when no one else was, and b) she was on call during Saturday's flash flood, I decided to ask her if she wanted anything. She... wasn't at her desk.

I remembered she liked their yucca fries and figured I'd get them for her (they're only $3 and if she didn't want them I'd eat them.) When I returned with the food she... wasn't at her desk. Hello again, universe. I left them on her desk, and I kept circling back until she returned. She... wasn't hungry.

It is Tuesday now. I'm not going to go out for lunch again, but I want to enjoy the nice weather. The garage door is open, so I sit on the dock and stretch out like I'm having a picnic. The side door opens.

"Hey you!" She sounds pleasantly surprised to see me sitting up on the dock. I'm wearing black clothes and an emo boy frown. I am in no mood to talk to her. The universe has spoken.

She asks me a couple questions as if everything is normal and explains that she's going out to 7-11 for a hot chocolate (in the middle of July?) "That's your lunch?" is the most I can muster in response. And this time I know that she knows that I'm blowing her off. And I know I'm acting like an asshole. But we're just not in sync anymore. She doesn't get what I'm going through, and it's impossible to explain. Resentment

I return to my desk. I do some work, have some fruit, do some more work. And I start to feel sick to my stomach. Physically ill, like I'm on the verge of throwing up. Anxiety. It continues through the rest of the day. I even tell my wife that if I don't feel better in the morning that I might have to stay home. 

I do not stay home on Wednesday. I feel okay when I wake up but by the time I'm settled into work the feeling returns. I am sick to my stomach again. I pass OG in the hallway. I say nothing. Not ready yet.

Finally, around 3pm, my manager leaves for the day. I get up, I start pacing the hallway, I come back.

Eventually Office Girl enters the kitchen. She makes herself a cup of tea. "Hey, I need to talk to you." I say to her.

I have spent the past hour rehearsing this in my head. There are things that need to be said, things that are too heavy to say, and some "remember when.." stories in between. I have no idea what will jump out of my mouth, but here goes...

"Uh-oh. I'm scared." She replies. That's when I realize that a) I'm a foot taller than her, b) I'm blocking the doorway, and c) I was fairly hostile the last time she talked to me. "No, no don't be scared. It's fine." I begin.

The next three minutes is... kind of a blur. I know I told her that I almost said something to her one day that freaked me out a little bit. [We were discussing a customer and she said "gorgeous!" when she meant to say "beautiful!" I had planned on jokingly telling her that "I can't talk to you anymore. You're going to get me in trouble!"...but she wasn't at her desk.] Reminding her of this moment, I told her that I nearly said - and I mouthed these words - "Yeah you are." She awww-ed.

Realizing that she was making her tea, and that she'd have to answer the phone if it rang, I talked fast. I apologized for the day before and told her I felt sick to my stomach that I didn't talk to her on the dock. "Why did I do that?" I said to myself - and her. I mentioned the yucca fries, why I got them for her, and how I felt embarrassed that she didn't want them. I think I told her that I was feeling like a 15 year-old. She thought this was all very sweet, and she understood what I was trying to say.

It wasn't my finest hour, but I got my point across without saying anything too heavy. She knew I was struggling to balance being friendly to her and feeling... something.. without getting myself into trouble. We ended the day as we had on Friday. All good. We'll talk again soon. I made a promise not to be scary emo guy anymore - more for my own benefit than hers.

Thursday afternoon I opened the office fridge and found a box from Edible Arrangements. Instantly I knew who it belonged to. When I left for the day there was a tall box of roses standing next to OG's desk. Her favorite. [she has a rose tattoo on her left arm and I think Rose is her middle name, or her daughter's, or both] "Look at you getting flowers!" I said as I turned to face her. She was enjoying a chocolate-covered strawberry.

Universe, you bastard.

"He's just a friend." She said before I could finish my thought.

"Yeah, that's what they all say at first." Our project manager scoffed. When I clocked out our girl was still enjoying her edibles. "He's got good taste." I said. "Tell him that."

I wasn't talking about the flowers.

When I got home I went for a walk. There was a deer in my park - two actually - so I decided to walk down the road to another park. I kept walking and walking. If I were ten years younger and single, I thought to myself, those flowers would have been from me. And she would have got them six months ago.

I stopped at a basketball court. Picked up a ball and tried taking a shot. My arms felt like I hadn't moved them in years. Goddamn I'm old. I bet this guy is young and handsome and lifts weights. Fuckin' hell. Inadequacy.

I continued walking for over an hour. And then I stopped for ice cream.

The next day - yesterday - I planned to ask Office Girl about Mr. Chocolate Covered Strawberry Guy. She was at her desk. And she wasn't busy. "What's up with this guy?" I asked, as a friend would.

She insisted that her friends put her up to this, and they said he'd send her something so she gave them the office address - and she was really embarrassed. "I barely know him."

Was I jealous? Maybe a tiny bit. But honestly, I felt bad for the guy. He took his best shot and she appreciated it ("I love roses." She said again.) Didn't seem like it worked though.

Assuming she's not lying to me to spare my feelings (and why would she?) I'm just thrilled that she considers me enough of a friend that she wouldn't mind discussing her personal life. I can't play the game anymore, but I can still cheer for my favorites to succeed.

Anyway... what do you all think of the Gin Blossoms track "Hey Jealousy"? Have you felt jealous of anyone lately?

Thanks for reading!





  1. That was some read! And sorry, I wasn't a Gin Blossoms fan, and still let out an audible groan every time this song comes on the radio.

    1. Ha, called it. You're not gonna like the next one either.

  2. In case you haven't been told this lately - you're a very talented writer. It's not easy to bear oneself publicly, and I hope all these emotions lead to something you can be at peace at. (As far as the Gin Blossoms go, I'll admit I liked the song when it first came out (even bought the CD) but it got so overplayed that I was wasn't sorry to hear the band broke up a few years afterwards.)

    1. Thank you so much Matt! I really appreciate this.

  3. It's not a bad song. Reminds me of college. As for being jealous, my buddy found some Vladimir Guerrero and Fernando Tatis Jr. rookie cards sitting in a quarter bin at the show this weekend. It's been a long time since I've been jealous of someone because of a girl. Maybe college... when I was listening to this song.