The second time I fell in love it was with a bossy, glamorous law school student who has opinions about everything under the sun, all of which she delivers in a loud voice given the most minimal provocation. She was a jock in high school, and she could almost certainly beat me up with one hand held behind her back. Most of the songs that she adores are from what one might call the Sweatband School of ‘80s pop-rock. She has been known to dance around our living room for the full duration of Pat Benetar’s “Invincible” while mouthing the lyrics into a bottle of salad dressing. I endure such spectacles with a peculiar mixture of awe and detachment.

The first time I fell in love it was with a woman who was… well, how to describe her? She’s kind of like a movie that everyone rushes to see, but no one understands it sitting in their seats. And she’s kind of like an artist sittin’ on the floor. Never finishes, she abandons — never shows a soul. She closes her mouth to speak and closes her eyes to see. Thought about and only loved, she’s achin’ to be. Just like me.

Of course, the character described in the second paragraph above never actually bothered to materialize out of the lyrics of the Replacements’ song. This is probably for the best — one suspects that a fierce temper probably lurked behind all of that waifish introversion. It also seems far too likely that after a couple of weeks of enduring my doting looks and earnest solicitations for her psychic well-being, I would have eventually had to endure the sight of her receding slowly toward the horizon behind some dude on a Harley Davidson.

I once read somewhere that in cultures with low literacy rates, hyper-sentimental love songs provide an outlet for adult males to communicate all of their innermost longings without the loss of machismo that would result from bringing up such topics in regular conversation. So I guess in ink-stained, gossipy cultures like ours their function must be to give us a brief glimpse of the pleasures of polyamory without our having to flee our domestic bliss to head over to the fleshpots.