I was introduced to Chris in the summer of '95. In turn, Chris would eventually introduce me to Thai food, Black Adder, sex and a band called Belly. I still love sticky rice and papaya salad. I have a deep appreciation for British comedy. You know how I feel about sex and I have physically absorbed every song performed by Belly. I would listen to them over and over. I have all of the songs memorized. I have the order the songs are listed on the CD memorized. I fell hard for this band. They were my long flowy Gypsy skirt, my oversized flannel. This was my '90s band and after I fully carved the songs from Star into a layer of skin, I went hunting for more. I scrounged every used CD store for every single album I could get my hands on, which were only three. Three albums. I clearly remember asking "but why aren't there any more albums." Chris and Traci, who probably introduced Chris to Belly, looked at me and shook their heads. Traci placed a hand on my shoulder and replied "because they don't exist anymore."
The band broke up in the Fall of '95, right after the release of King.
This is the second time I've discovered a band and fallen in love only to have that band break up months after my discovery. The first band was the Police. Though they have not released new music together, I have at least been able to see them live twice in reunion tours. Belly reunited in 2016, but they have yet to make it KCMO or any where close. I am okay with that. I'm just happy they decided to get back together because it inspired a new album, Dove, that was released this year. They have the same swirly sound and cryptic lyrics with the exception that now those lyrics refer to more grown up issues like settled relationships and raising children. I am now in the process of absorbing and adding this album to my other carvings in that same layer of skin. My first listening round made me feel like I was creeping into my twenties again.
I met Chris when I was nineteen and a little shocked to discover that he was five years older than me. "Is that a problem?" he asked as we sat at a table crowded with our friends. I tried to sound confident as I replied "no" but there was something about Chris that was intimidating. I was not old enough to drink or even get into a bar. Meanwhile, he had lived a whole life while I was still in high school, serving in the national guard (proudly, unsuccessfully) as a medic and working a security gig at the Habana Inn. He knew things. He was experienced. The next few years felt like I was in some accelerated course for life experience just trying to catch up. But I would catch up. Then I would be the one introducing him to new music, dragging him into new experiences. Listening to Belly's new album makes me think that I never finished that accelerated course. Or at least it turned out to be not so accelerated. There's not any real perceived graduation day unless I can predict the day of my own death.
There's one song on the new album that reminds me of dating after Chris. Suffer the Fools. The song is more about settled relationships than dating. It's about what happens as we age into a relationship, how we put up with things. "I'd rather suffer you, than suffer the fools." I put up with things with Chris. I won't deny it or sugarcoat it. Same way I put up with various things with Michael. I'm sure I'm not all rainbows and lollipops to live with at times either. I suffered a number of fools during the online dating years. Eventually there comes along someone you'd rather suffer through life with than suffering with fools. There's something romantic about it in a Daria at age fourty kind of way.