Joke (I’m Laughing)

It’s a cassette that I used to listen to when I lived in the North, a long time ago. Eddi Reader’s self titled album. I didn’t have a lot of music with me then, so I listened to this a lot while I was taking the bus from the town where I lived to the town where I worked. I had a lot of time on that bus to think about my life’s journey that had led me to this place.

At the end of the first side of the cassette, comes the song, “Joke (I’m laughing)”

Did you hear the one about
The one you’re now without?
Did it make you smile?
Did you hear the one about
The one you filled with doubt?
Was it worth your while?

The way you kick a life around
Deserving to be undergound
What is this?

Joke, is it some kind of joke?
Joke, I’m laughing, I’m laughing
I’m laughing

This song took me back to a breakup, and the ‘brave face’ I was wearing to show everyone I was fine. See how strong I am, see how little this bothers me, see me getting on with my life and getting over him. See me leaving him behind without looking backwards. But on the inside I was little pieces of broken glass.

Why is it when people break up with you they feel that is the best time to give you some ‘relationship feedback’ about what you did wrong and what you could do better next time. That’s too late. All it does is cause a spiral of negative thoughts and doubt. Could I have done better? Should I not have said that? Should I have been more vapid and adoring and less opinionated? How would I have to change who I am to make you happy?

Did you hear the one about
The one who fell from space
One minute in the stars
The next minute lying on their face?

You don’t always know breakups are coming. I knew this one was coming. I just didn’t know when. I knew it was coming when I stopped talking about “us” in the future tense, because I knew there was no future for us. But when it happened it was still a shock. One minute you’re at a party with a group of friends, happy and laughing, having a great night. The next minute you’re hearing your services as girlfriend are no longer required and – boom – you’ve crash landed. I cried a lot when he said whatever it was he said. Looking back, I wonder if a little bit of this was relief, that the anxious waiting for this to happen was finally over, it was finally ending.

For a tumble and something to do at night
You kick a life around
For a fumble with someone you know at sight
Did you hear the one about the one you’re now without?

Maybe he didn’t expect me to be a girlfriend. Maybe that this relationship limped along for as long as it did is some kind of miracle.

She says I don’t know what to be
And does she look younger than me?
And does my make-up look alright?
Can you tell that I’ve been up all night?

I know his friends didn’t like me, and I know at least one of his close female friends was very jealous and was probably talking me down behind my back. Was that part of it, that my face didn’t fit with their little gang? Was he used to his little cluster of adoring female fans and my independence and indifference was bruising to his precious little ego?


I’m laughing.

Because in my life’s journey that led me to the bus in the North, he was really not much more than a bump in the road.

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