“Waltz #2” – Elliott Smith

So there’s this girl. No, not like that. We’re just friends. Very platonic friends. Not that I don’t think she’s attractive. I definitely do. She’s gorgeous. It would be criminal to assert otherwise. That and the fact she’s smart, funny, interesting and a million other brilliant things as well make her my friend. Plus, I mean come on, if she went out with me she’d be arrested in like six states for bestiality.

I know that the song is likely really about Elliott Smith’s tenuous relationship with his mother, but recently, for some reason, I’ve been connecting the song to thoughts I’ve had about my platonic relationship with this girl. I’ve attempted to articulate these connections through stream-of-consciousness blather, and this is the result:

First the mic, then a half cigarette
Singing “Cathy’s Clown”
That’s the man that she’s married to now
That’s the girl that he takes around town

She was going out with a jackass. Long after we had first met (like you care when we met), she approached me to work on a project. Either when we were working, or before, I’m not exactly sure, she vented to me about her #firstworldproblems involving the jackass and some other interested guy–I hear there’s a club of her jilted men, I’d love to witness a meeting. She really liked the jackass. She has a tendency to do that, to really like jackass boys. Even though he keeps turning their on-off relationship off, she keeps liking him and he keeps using her for drunken makeouts. He’s the asshole with a half-cigarette singing “Cathy’s Clown”. She’s married to him, though to him she’s nothing. There’s the first connection.

She appears composed, so she is, I suppose
Who can really tell?
She shows no emotion at all
Stares into space like a dead china doll

There’s an air of mystery about her. She’s guarded, calculated. Loose, wild, fascinating on the outside–but she knows what she’s doing. She has complete control of her actions that can be seen by the outside world, but not her emotions, which she acknowledges can disrupt her veneer of smooth confidence, if only on the inside. There’s a picture of her that reflects this sentiment perfectly, encompasses her character in a single image: she stares into space like a dead china doll. Not that I would post the photo or anything like that. (I know, I’m such a tease.)

I’m never going to know you now
But I’m going to love you anyhow

It is perhaps due to her guarded nature that I have become intrigued by her. I don’t know her, not really. She’s only shown me the parts of herself she wants me to see, and that’s okay–I guess I’ll just have to love her anyway.

The instrumental that repeats, the waltz, reflects the natural dance of our friendship. The piano, like me, is just one step behind, but it works just as well with the melody of the song.

Now she’s done and they’re calling someone
Such a familiar name
I’m so glad that my memory’s remote
Because I’m doing just fine hour to hour, note to note
Here it is, the revenge to the tune
“You’re no good,
You’re no good, you’re no good, you’re no good”
Can’t you tell that it’s well understood?

Recently, we went for a night out on the town with a bunch of friends together. It was fun. We both had a great time. I was nervous the whole night, though. I worried. For what reason, I’m not exactly sure. Maybe I had liked her romantically and wouldn’t admit it to myself that I did. Whether or not that was the case, it wouldn’t stop. But despite the nervousness, we had a great time. “You’re no good”, the voice in my head kept repeating, but due to the high of the happiness of the evening, my memory became remote. I did just fine hour to hour, note to note, and that night, I felt like we became a bit closer.

I’m never going to know you now
But I’m going to love you anyhow

I’m here today and expected to stay on and on and on
I’m tired
I’m tired

This is where it gets a little more general. We’re good friends. And we’re expected to stay that way, perfectly platonic. I’ve never expected otherwise, or really wanted it. But all the same, I tire of the same ritual, the pattern of platonic stasis that seems to emerge in my friendships with members of the opposite sex… but then, I don’t really desire romantic fulfillment from her, or from any of my platonic girl friends really. So what is it then that has my brain in knots?

Looking out on the substitute scene
Still going strong
XO, Mom
It’s ok, it’s all right, nothing’s wrong

We had a conversation recently about mothers. Of course we did–with the proximity to the holiday it’s been a recurring theme in the past few days. (Author’s Note: This post was written a little while ago.)

Nothing’s wrong with my life or our friendship, the voice in my head reassures, but I feel, subconsciously, that that’s not the case. I think I’m being paranoid, but more often than not, my instincts prove right. I’m thinking just now that it’s possible I want to be her friend more than she wants to be mine–the balance of whatever is off in the friendship and I think I’m sensing that.

There it is. That’s the catharsis I’ve been looking for.

That’s not too bad at all. The friendship just needs time to grow naturally. No need to worry.

Tell Mr. Man with impossible plans to just leave me alone
In the place where I make no mistakes
In the place where I have what it takes

Of course, as a screenwriter, this part applies to me in the most general sense possible. Since finishing my freshman year and moving back home a few days ago, I’ve experienced a minor outbreak of writers’ block. Typing out this post will, I hope, break the stretch of seemingly interminable laziness. The voice in my head is “Mr. Man”, and the place where I make no mistakes is right here, on these pages, with these words. Not to say that my writing is flawless, but that my writing is at least distinctly mine. These words are my stomping ground, and I live here, in the abyss of an endless blank page. Did that sound haughty and pretentious? Because I was totally going for haughty and pretentious.

I’m never going to know you now
But I’m going to love you anyhow
I’m never going to know you now
But I’m going to love you anyhow
I’m never going to know you now
But I’m going to love you anyhow

I won’t know her as well as she knows me, but I’m okay with that… I’ll accept her anyway. So be it if the bittersweet waltz is the dance of our relationship… I suppose that’s what I signed up for. I can’t push it. The friendship has to evolve naturally. That’s the way it has to go. And I’m… perfectly, normally okay with that. Is that weird?

The strings in the song’s final build sound like a twisted version of the string slides in the chorus and bridge of “Call Me Maybe”. I could interpret that, but I suppose that’s going a little too far overboard with this thing, don’t you?

About Dylan Visvikis

Dylan Visvikis is a working screenwriter and director in Los Angeles. View all posts by Dylan Visvikis

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