Back in the Day, It Just Went Without Saying at All

Sometimes, New York knows I’m falling out of love, and then she pulls out all the stops.

Tonight, I went to a show, which I never do, and then I went out for drinks, which I do too often. A boy talked to me. He was much too young. I made him play a game. It’s called, Guess My Age? I do this with every boy who admits to being in his early 20s.

“27!” he said.


Now, you can say – and you wouldn’t be wrong – that it would behoove him to guess low. The point is, I could clean up if I wanted younguns. I am so not sure why that is, and don’t care to speculate, as it’s honestly somewhat disturbing.

At 4 a.m. plus, I got off the train to an empty neighborhood. I passed the lone guy outside the bodega, and walked toward Methodist and home, listening to the Dresden Dolls as I often do. My favorite song right now is “Sing,” and because we’re unofficially sponsoring way post-teen angst tonight, I’ll give you a lyric or two:

There is this thing that’s like fucking except you don’t fuck
Back in the day it just went without saying at all
All the world’s history gradually dying of shock
There is this thing it’s like talking except you don’t talk
You sing
You sing

All of a sudden, the street opened up for me. There were no cars moving through the lights. No one lingered on the corners. I passed Methodist, and saw a long tiled ramp through the doors, leading to chemical smells and sadness and efficiency. There was no one around at all. It felt like being the last living person, or maybe the first.

Sing for the bartender sing for the janitor sing
Sing for the cameras sing for the animals sing
Sing for the children shooting the children sing
Sing for the teachers who told you that you couldn’t sing
Just sing

And then thing is, and this is good to know for background, things have lately been slow and blue. The kind of thing where you’re disgusted with yourself for ignoring your blessings, but still can’t get out of bed on time.

There is thing keeping everyone’s lungs and lips locked
It is called fear and it’s seeing a great renaissance
After the show you can not sing wherever you want
But for now let’s just pretend we’re all gonna get bombed
So sing

I thought about the signs I’d seen: Jewish Children’s Museum. So-and-so is the Superintendent of this Station. I thought about how there are flowers here, even at four in the morning, spilling out of their containers in front of the bodegas, and how it feels like cheating to see the Purity Diner closed, with chairs upended on tables.

Sing cause its obvious sing for the astronauts sing
Sing for the president sing for the terrorists sing
Sing for the soccer team sing for the janjaweed sing
Sing for the kid with the phone who refuses to sing
Just sing

When I turned down my music, I could hear birds, but also a guy talking to his friend in a parked car. And up ahead, I saw a women walking in a brightly colored quilt, not fast, and realized of course that I’d never been alone all this time.

When I caught up with her, she said, “Excuse me. Do you have a cigarette. I ain’t a mugger. I just got out the hospital.” She held out her sad thin wrist with the bracelet.

“I know you’re not,” I said. “Here. You OK?”

“I’m just going home,” she said. The quilt looked handmade and was very clean. She looked off her meds, but nice enough.

She went down the slope and I went across it, toward home.

Published by Jen Hubley Luckwaldt

I'm a freelance writer and editor.

9 thoughts on “Back in the Day, It Just Went Without Saying at All

  1. I had never heard this song before, and I’m only an occasional visitor to your site.

    You can understand, then, why I think stumbling across this at just the right time in my life is like magic to me. Thank you.

  2. Nice evocative picture of your walk home.

    Did not know this band, went to check them out…


    Dark, yet optimistic at the same time.

    A definite keeper…

    Going to have to get this band’s releases. Have you seen them live?

  3. The new readers don’t know that the Smash ahs wonderful “eyes” and a risque mouth…that’s what brinks the boys all up in her yard.


    (PS: Nicely written, Jenn-nay).

  4. Aw, you guys. Thanks.

    I *have* seen the Dresden Dolls live, many, many times. I’m completely gay for Amanda Palmer.

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