I Have a New Shirt (Side B)


June, 1999




“You forgot your toothbrush.”

I hadn’t. It was sitting on the counter, and we both eyed it after she had uttered her false pretense. I was confused. She was nervous. She chortled and said something else as she entered the trailer and approached, but the blood rushing to my head in sudden realization flooded my ear canals. I heard nothing. And then she kissed me.

I wasn’t trying to get kissed. Not consciously, anyway. It was quite the opposite, really. I had my orders and I was sticking to them. But one can only ignore the sunshine in the room for so long. We were a cast and crew of only 10 or 12, so there was no avoiding Kirsten. I liked her instantly, and I knew it. And it wasn’t because Jason had forbidden the men of the crew from trying to hook up with the women of the crew. It was because Kirsten was goofy, funny and beautiful. We all liked her instantly. Even the trees were falling in love with her.

And since I knew I was already smitten, I was making every effort to keep that feeling from getting any stronger. They were stupid, pointless efforts. When I could no longer avoid her, I spoke only in sarcasm. Like a kid in a schoolyard, I was throwing rocks at the girl I liked. But she wasn’t having it, verbally hitting back with the moves of Ali. And–boom– without trying, I’m flirting. We’re flirting. And when I realized it, I pulled back. And suddenly, with no conscious effort, I’m playing hard to get.

“Oh, my/What have I done now?/Oh, my/What have I done now?/You’re mine/What’s come over you?/Am not/Are to/Oh, my”

Did all these backward efforts to quash my crush on Kirsten simply work to get her to pine for me? I’ll never know exactly how it happened, but it happened. And then she kissed me. And it should have been magical. It should have been amazing. It should have led to the greatest night of my life. But I froze. She kissed me, but I didn’t kiss her back. I couldn’t. I didn’t even move my lips or close my eyes. She felt like an idiot and said so. I had ruined it. I had ruined what should have been the greatest forbidden kiss of my life. She backpedalled and I confessed. As much as I had wanted to (and holy shit, did I want to), I had made a promise to a friend not to. And, hey, look at that– I kept it.

I wasn’t going to lie to Jason, and I wasn’t going allow that failed kiss to be the last time my lips touched hers, so the next day, I finagled a little one-on-one time with him and basically asked his permission to make out with his childhood friend. It was all very bizarre, a situation I don’t think any of us ever thought we would find ourselves in. Jason seemed to realize the futility of such a request, especially since he wasn’t about to put the same restriction on Kirsten. And so, with a sigh, there were no more roadblocks. And that night, we kissed. Full on, mutual lip locking. Several times.

“What a beautiful face I have found in this place that is circling all ’round the sun/What a beautiful dream that could flash on the screen in a blink of an eye and be gone”

By this point, we only had a few days left of filming. Soon we would be returning to the reality of our lives. I spent as much time as possible with Kirsten, though not nearly as much as I would have wanted to. There was still a movie to make. But things had been building in such a way between us, that even in those few moments, we were connecting more and more. There was a sudden ease to being with her. I had been holding back before the night she brought me someone else’s toothbrush, and now we could just be.

And of course, as soon as that happened, it all had to end. Our last day of filming took place in Boston. I was back home. Back to my basement apartment in Brighton. Soon back to the 9 to 5 of a daily grind. I had one night in Boston with Kirsten, and we spent it in my bedroom. Talking and not talking. She left for the outskirts of Chicago the next day.

And that was the trip that changed my life.


It still sucks.


  • “Mirror Song” – Live
  • “Tomorrow Will Be Like Today” – Money Mark
  • “Lullabye” – Ben Folds
  • “Love is Better Than a Warm Trombone” – Gomez
  • “Stuck With Me” – Green Day
  • “The Stone” – Dave Matthews Band
  • “And Your Bird Can Sing” – The Beatles
  • “Me, Myself and I” – De La Soul
  • “Monday” – Wilco
  • “Big Star” – Letters to Cleo
  • “Half a Dream Away” – Ocean Colour Scene
  • “Seed” – Sublime
  • “Banned From the End of the World” – Sleater-Kinney
  • “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” – Neutral Milk Hotel
  • “To Be a Millionaire” – Spacehog
  • “My Girlfriend’s Shower Sucks” – Goldfinger

As I wrote earlier, Side A was dragged down by the powerful but plodding “Yellow Ledbetter.” Side B has four more like this.

“Mirror Song” is a terrible track to take with you on a road trip, yet here it is opening the second half of this road trip mix. It’s overly dramatic and underly upbeat. I can’t even imagine what I was going for with this track positioned here, except maybe, “Uh, hey. I haven’t played any tracks by that band Live in a while.”

The tempo doesn’t pick up any as this side continues. Only one track separates “Mirror Song” and Ben Fold’s “Lullabye.” A lullaby, of course, is intended to lull you to sleep.  So, yes, let’s add that here. I’m not saying a mixtape can’t have a variety of styles and tempos– in fact, it should– but when you know you’re packing for an open road, you do not need to find room for the likes of “The Stone.”

It’s just another track that brings everything to a stand still. It’s horror film strings and Dave’s ominous singing make this a darker song than it probably is, save for the sunny sounding chorus that I can’t help but sing along to every time I hear it. Still the general moroseness of the song is not a great fit between Green Day and The Beatles.

And yet another red light comes in the form of “Half a Dream Away.” Dream. Sleep. How I didn’t conk out at the wheel and kill us all will forever be a mystery. I really like this song a lot, but it’s slow groove bass line is not what this tape needed.


But, hey, at least we can say I Have a New Shirt gave us the first appearance of Sleater-Kinney.

True to form, I’m picking up on Sleater-Kinney four albums in. But at least I’m picking up. This mix was mostly made from albums three years old or older. (Only three of these songs were actually released in the year this mix was made.)  This track is proof that I was finally working to branch out a little more. To try new things. To hear more of what the music world had to offer. To make out with women who I had previously never made out with.


Any of the foot-dragging tracks highlighted above could have fit here, but Sublime’s “Seed” stands out the most. Musically, it rocks well enough.  And more than likely, it found its way onto this mix because of its ratatat opening and guitar solo. But  I have outgrown the song, lyrically. Making her bleed and planting one’s seed is no longer what I look for in a song. And it shouldn’t have been then, either.


I had to post this song earlier in this entry because it so perfectly fit. It’s opening lines are simple perfection– see them quoted above. The lyrics are made ever more meaningful accompanied by that gorgeous, uplifting acoustic guitar. And then the song opens up to a horn section, a singing saw, and darker, powerful lyrics. Jeff Mangum’s vocals strain and the drumming hisses, yet the song never falls apart. Its pieces hold together, becoming stronger for their effort. It’s such an amazing track, stuck on the ass end of a crappy tape.

And here’s the Spotify playlist… with some live tracks filling in for album tracks, and The Jam filling in for The Beatles:


One thought on “I Have a New Shirt (Side B)

  1. Pingback: Crap on a Cracker | Super Ultra Mega Mix

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