story

Modest Mouse

A brief history of my dating life
Isaac Brock busting out a slug solo
Remember these? The John Mayer one is great. I wish these would be popular again.

There’s a new Modest Mouse album! Strangers to Ourselves is their first full release in 7 years. It’s cool and worth checking out if you like them. Listening for the month or so that it’s been out has given me occasion to reflect on the strangely interwoven role that Modest Mouse has played in my dating life.


At some point in 2009 I had a conversation on a friend’s Facebook status with a cute girl on a topic I can’t recall. Whatever the conversation was about, it was sufficiently interesting, so we moved to private messages. Perusing her profile, it was pretty clear she was a fan of a band called Modest Mouse. I’d heard Float On but was otherwise generally unaware of them. I remember seeing her last.fm page and noting that the song Heart Cooks Brain had a lot more plays than anything else (the next four songs were MGMT, I think). We messaged back and forth for awhile, and at some point I picked up a MM album from Best Buy. To not-so-subtly show my desperation interest, I put some lyrics from Float On in the little text area that used to be underneath profile pictures on Facebook.

She was into it; we decided to get ice cream and see a movie. (I think it might’ve been the Star Trek that came out that year. Chris Pine… *swoon*.) My main memory of the date was showing up at Dairy Queen. I walked in, and was mildly annoyed at the large youth baseball team that was there. Being the only two people over 5’ there, I saw her over the top of the kids’ heads near the opposite entrance. I started making my way through the crowd, continually excusing myself as I bumped into people. Now, the building is only about 15 feet across, but there were a lot of children between us. I was looking in her direction as I made my way over, half-smiling and ready to say hello. I could tell that she had seen me in the corner of her eye, but was pretending not to notice me navigating the labyrinth of humans. When I got to her, she finally acknowledged my presence and we exchanged hellos. For the next 15 minutes, we stood silently in line, jammed much too close together because of the packed building. It was an awkward start, to say the least. I don’t remember much about the rest of the date, other than the fact that it didn’t really improve.

A couple years later, I’d started listening to more Modest Mouse, and had come to genuinely like them. On Wikipedia, I noticed that a certain guitarist called Johnny Mar had been in the band for a stint. I’d first heard of Mr. Marr and The Smiths a number of years earlier, on a Third Eye Blind fan forum that I spent an embarrassing amount of time on. A line from The Smiths’ song There is a Light that Never Goes Out was in somebody’s signature on the forum. I had taken a short dive into The Smiths, and took a liking to them. But it wasn’t until years later - scanning the Modest Mouse Wikipedia page - that I ran into Johnny Marr’s name again, and really dug into The Smiths’ catalog.

This happened to coincide with my second profile (of three, so far) that I had on the dating site OkCupid. In the “favorite music” section on my profile, I’d decided it’d be a good idea to list The Smiths, since I was interested in dating other generally mopey and joyless people. Within a couple days of this addition, I received the message “the smiths fucking suck.” Surprisingly, this turned into a fun conversation about English bands and, eventually, plans for a coffee date. The day of the date, I showed up a few minutes early, and got a table before she was there. I waited about 45 minutes before I concluded she wasn’t coming. She must’ve really hated The Smiths.

Another couple years later, on the fourth of July, I’d decided to take a relaxing walk along the Mississippi River and watch fireworks wherever I ended up seeing them. By some cosmic dictation, I was listening to Modest Mouse - I’d made it through Building Nothing Out of Something and was two songs into Good News For People Who Love Bad News. Walking through a park where people had gathered to watch the show, I saw someone waving at me; it was my ex-girlfriend. She’d also come to relax and watch the fireworks, so we decided to hang out and catch up. Thus kicked off a brief and forced re-romance that fizzled pretty shortly thereafter. Damn you, Isaac Brock.


Despite the seeming curse they have on my dating life, I can’t help but love Isaac Brock and gang. I’m still trying to decide if I want to shell out the money to see them at Rock the Garden next month. The new album is more of the same, which is fine by me. If you like their old stuff there’s no reason you won’t like Strangers to Ourselves.

In other news, my devout readers may have noticed the new site design. Certain co-workers who will go unnamed ragged on me for my 1998-inspired design. I liked it but I admit it was a little old-timey and unintuitive. So I bumped it forward about 5 years. I like this one more.