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Social Competency Lesson the Third: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do (If You’re A Loser)

July 13, 2009

Note to readers:  Let me apologize for not making one single Paul Simon reference during this entire post.  It would be easy to assume that I aped this idea from Rhymin’ Simon’s classic “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover”, but such an assumption would be entirely wrong.  In fact, the idea for this post came from Kool Moe Dee’s classic song “50 Ways”, which in my opinion is a much richer exploration of the art of  association dissolution.  Actually, I learned all I know about relationships from Kool Moe Dee, which explains my phenomenal success at all things relational.

Greetings acolytes, young and old alike!  Here we are again at another Monday and I know that many of you are dying for our next lesson in social competence.  Well die no more!  I am here, hung and ready to provide more knowledge to cram in your craniums.  Today, we’re going to explore the various ways to end a relationship with a significant other.  We’ll assume for the purposes of the lesson that the significant other doesn’t want the relationship to end, otherwise you’ll need ot refer to the forthcoming Social Competency Lesson the Twentieth:  Pre-emptive Dissolution of Affiliations.

The first thing to understand before we begin is that breaking up, or “suspension of diplomatic relations” to borrow a term from political science, should not be your first and only option.  You need to analyze the reasons for dissolution and understand your motivations for severing ties.  If the relationship is a relatively superficial one that is based on mere physical attraction or the fact that they’ll open the door at 2am, then there probably isn’t a need to break it off.  You’ve not signed any social contract that obligates you to anything, just simply forego contact.  When the inevitable phone call wondering what’s going on occurs, simply tell them you’ve been in the hospital for the past X number of days/weeks/months with a rare form of intestinal virus.  The other person automatically changes from vexed and annoyed to slightly guilty for assuming that you were being a jerk by not calling.  This technique is called “sympathetic conversion” and is a useful little tool to use in anytime you are being accused of something.  Bear in mind, this technique is not to be used if the other party works at a hospital or in any way has access to your medical records.  The success of sympathetic conversion relies on the 1996 Health Insurance Portablility and Accountability Act making your story impossible to either verify or disprove, but employment in the medical field is this particular Superman’s Kryptonite.

But despite your best efforts, sometimes giving the other person the boot is the only option.  Today, we’ll use the folk-rock stylings of Ben Harper and the soul-rock music of the Austin band Spoon to illustrate how we can “Kick Out The Jams” and retain our freedom to maneuver.

Ben Harper

Claremont, California’s Ben Harper has been in the indie rock world for quite some time, mostly in the folk-rock category.  Harper started his career playing with blues artists like Taj Mahal and built his career during the nineties through extensive touring.  More popular overseas than he is here in the U.S., Harper finds himself in what some would consider the enviable position of being a widely respected musician without being superstar famous.

Harper’s most recognizable single is 1999’s “Steal My Kisses”, which got a ton of top-40 radio and MTV airplay.  His most successful album is 2003’s Diamonds on the Inside, which we will utilize in a moment.  For many years, Harper played with his back-up band The Innocent Criminals, but recently has collaborated with the Blind Boys of Alabama and Brazilian singer Vanessa Da Mata.  In 2009, he released White Lies for Dark Times with his new band Relentless 7.  Harper also has contributed songs to compilations celebrating Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska and Amnesty International.

Ben Harper’s music is a must for break-up situations.  The best utilization is to have the music playing softly in the background while you break the news to the aggrieved party.  If the other person begins the inevitable “Why?” questions, deflect the question by acting like you are seriously grooving to the Diamonds on the Inside album and say “Just listen to this song and you’ll understand.”  The other person will listen intently, hoping to discover the reason behind the discontinuation.  Soon, they will become entranced by Harper’s silky smooth voice, which provides you the opportunity to sneak out the back door.  If you happen to be in your apartment and find yourself not wanting to leave your jilted lover alone with your breakables…well it’s your own fault for staging a break up in your pad, that’s just plain stupid.


The Austin band Spoon is the brainchild of Britt Daniel, who grew up in and around Austin Texas.  Spoon began releasing albums since 1996, but it was 2002’s Kill the Moonlight that broke the band into the mainstream with the single “The Way We Get By” featured on the TV show The O.C. It was 2007’s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga that made them a top 10 band and the lead single “The Underdog” was a radio hit and found its way to the soundtrack for the movie Cloverfield.

Spoon combines straight-up rock and roll with splashes of R&B, which makes them an incredible live band.  Think the Stones meets early 80’s Billy Joel meets The Jackson 5.  At their best, Spoon has the uncanny ability to surround an R&B hook in a straight up rock package that makes you want to listen over and over again.  At the end of June, the band psyched out the media by releasing the EP Got Nuffin with no advance notice or media fanfare.  This EP serves as a preview of Spoon’s next album, expected out 2010.

At first glance, Spoon may seem like an odd choice for breakup music.  The best Spoon tunes are high-energy, peppy affairs that make you want to dance.  Actually, the dance floor is a great place for a break up (see Madonna, Confessions on a Dance Floor), but I digress.  The most effective usage of Spoon is to make a “Last Date Mixtape” with the following tracks (in order):

1.  Take A Walk

2.  Shake It Off

3. You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb

4. Don’t Make Me A Target

Attach to the tape or CD a note that reads as follows:  “Look, I wanted to tell you this in person but I had to catch a plane.  I’m traveling to Tibet to become a monk and I’m sorry you can’t follow.  I’ve left these songs for you as a way to say goodbye, I’m not always good at expressing my feelings.  If you see someone around town that looks like me, just know that it’s not me.  You must be losing your mind, I suggest you seek professional help.  If you speak to your spectral animation of me, I’m letting you know up front that it will scream for help like a scared little girl.  Is that what you want?  I didn’t think so.”  On second thought, maybe the note should just read: “Goodbye”.

Well, there you have it ladies and gents, all you needed to know about breaking up but were afraid to ask.  After our last couple of posts on social competency, the fellows over in Legal have advised me to end my posts with a little “legalese”.  Don’t worry it’s nothing, you don’t even have to read it if you don’t want to.  Trust me, everything is just fine.

Due to pending litigation, The Brown Tweed Society must advise all readers that this post is provided for informational purposes only and the reader follows the advice of one “Caleb Asbridge” at their own risk.  This information has been known to cause the user bodily harm in the form of slapping, hitting and in one case near castration.  The Brown Tweed Society encourages all users of it’s blogging services to stop and think for a minute:  “Am I really getting social interaction advice from a blog?  Is that really the smartest thing to do?”  Thank you for your time and patience.

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