[Originally published September 13, 2010.]

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The recipe says to let the casserole cool for ten minutes before digging in. Ten minutes to go until delicious casserole. I’m absolutely starving right now, though, and this feels like an eternity. What can we do to pass the time? I’ve got an idea: let’s listen to my favorite song together! With me watching you! It’ll be both fun and interesting to see whether you like the song or not. Some losers don’t seem to “get” it.

They say you can tell a lot about a person based on the music they like. You can also tell a lot from the music they don’t like. I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m putting any pressure on you to like what you’re about to hear. Even if it turned out that you didn’t find this song transformative and amazing, I’m mostly certain that we have enough going between us to sustain a friendship. After all, music isn’t everything. And it is subjective. And just because someone doesn’t know what the hell they’re talking about and has garbage-ears doesn’t mean I would just up and abandon that person.

Okay, now just be quiet and experience this with me. Absorb the song. Let it wash over you like a stream. Then let it get inside of your pores and uproot the impurity within, like a Biore Strip. Listen to it all, my friend: the subtleties, the nuances, the keytar solo. Listen closely or you’ll miss something. The lyrics demand total concentration, and then a period of reflection. Every word is important—a DNA strand in the genetic makeup of some greater poetry. It’s very complicated. And it rocks so much ass.

Don’t feel obligated to maintain eye contact with me just because I’m studying your every physical reaction and grading it according to my own secret rubric. If you don’t feel like nodding your head at the same speed as me, just nod at the speed that feels most comfortable. Do not for one moment worry about how your arrhythmic, inconsistent head-nods might adversely affect my opinion of you as a person. If your thoughts are focused on worry and not enjoyment, then you might not experience all the pleasure this song has to offer. But that’s okay—I, for one, would never equate your inability to derive pleasure from this song with that of a person who is unable to climax sexually.

On second thought, I’d prefer it if we did maintain eye contact. That’s much better.

What you are hearing now is the revolutionary technique of metamorphosis through repetition. Every time you hear this beat repeat itself, it’s as though the band is reintroducing it again for the first time. It’s as if the beat is knocking on the door to your headspace and asking if there are any vacancies, then haggling you down to a price you can live with. Once the beat is inside your head, you can’t stop listening until it’s had its way with you. And you’re not a quitter, are you? I should hope not. Because I don’t care for quitters. Besides, if you quit now, you’ll miss the good part. Yes, the good part is coming up. Wait for it. Wait for it. Wait for it. That was it.

I’m just kidding—this entire song is one long good part.

I’ll be honest with you: listening to this song together was a terrific idea. We’ve gotten to know each other better, and we now have a thorough idea of where each of us stands. You should not concern yourself with any judgments I might have made over the last ten minutes, nor whether the plans I’ve suddenly remembered for later tonight include you. These are questions for the ages. And my plans are none of your business. For now, just try not to let my penetrating gaze disturb you as your taste buds luxuriate in the bold flavors of this casserole, while we await your taxi together.