All the Things I Got from You that I Didn’t Ask For

If you’ve watched Crazy Ex-Girlfriend you might recognize the title of this post as a reference to one of Paula’s breakout numbers, “After Everything I’ve Done for You (That You Didn’t Ask For)”. If you haven’t, you should. Basically, Paula, played by Donna Lynn Champlin, sings to the main character Rebecca about all the things she did, unbeknownst to Rebecca, behind the scenes. Following a similar format, I thought I’d write a post about all the things the boys I’ve dated have “given” me that I didn’t ask for. I’ve always loved writing thank you notes so think of this as my thank you note to those boys.

First, actually, on this list is Crazy Ex-Girlfriend itself. I can’t remember the exact timing. Maybe we’d gone on a date or maybe it was none. All I know is wanted to impress a boy and he mentioned this was his favorite show. So, as you do, I binged season one the next day. Needless, to say, I should thank him for that. As with all of the relationships/moments/things/whatchamacallits detailed on this blog, that didn’t last long. But we did bond over Rebecca and her ridiculous hijinks. I’m thankful for that and for this show with its surprisingly frank takes on mental health issues (delivered through a variety of musical styles, of course). It’s become one of two shows I try to regularly watch and keep up with.

The other show I try to keep up with was also the gift of a boy. Actually, this boy gave me two things. But first things first: RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 3. I’d been pretty resistant to drag and RuPaul prior to this boy, largely because of, well, another boy who makes an appearance later. I’m still not convinced on Ru (see latest garbage fire takes on Twitter). I thought it was all “reads”, cutting often cruel remarks meant to belittle the other queens. And while “reads” make their appearance, it’s so much more than that. Drag as an form of art and self expression has charmed me. It is warm and joyful and has expanded my knowledge of “herstory”. And Drag Race is the 1 hour a week I can freely express my campier and queer quirks. For this, I am thankful to the show and indebted to this boy for making me want to watch it.

While we’re talking about this boy, we should cover the other thing he “gave” me. This one I actually already had –  an interest in classical music and music theory – but he revived it. We bonded over classical music: playing it, listening to it, analyzing it, enjoying it. He gave me Breaking Down the Riffs videos, classical music on vinyl, Deconstructing Broadway songs, and probably more. The sheer joy of talking to a musician about their music is something I recommend to everyone.

Speaking of music, which is a great segue: music. Music is the theme that runs throughout all of these “gifts” so far. The next thing I’m thankful for from a boy (the aforementioned Drag Race detractor) is unsurprisingly an introduction to a new genre. That genre is girl punk pop grunge and is one that I have passed on to others since. While this is maybe more a collection of descriptors than a genre, it encapsulates the music we bonded over, and somehow, it also encapsulates him for me.

Finally, but maybe most importantly, the last thing a boy “gave” me was this blog or maybe more abstractly “words”. I haven’t written as much just for myself as I would have liked.  It can be hard when I’m stuck writing academic prose for my livelihood. But I’m thankful for the outlet. To use words to describe myself, meeting new bits, being reintroduced to old friends.

I saw a quote today: “Boys take what they want and leave when they’re finished.” Maybe the author of this is right. Maybe we do. Boys are rough and selfish. The less fair sex has its fair share of work to do to make the world right. But, maybe, just maybe, boys don’t only take. Or maybe they don’t always take. Maybe when we aren’t even expecting it they give just a little bit. A little bit of themselves that becomes a little bit of ourselves that is no less ourselves than the rest of us. Maybe that’s all we really are at the end of the day anyway. Just the accumulation of little bits of ourselves and little bits of others put together in an ill-fitting but nonetheless beautiful puzzle. How can I not, then, be thankful for these little bits of myself?

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