Shoulda Woulda Coulda

Ben Kweller

Ben Kweller

Today I was cleaning the Dreamatorium (The music and art room) and I found a stack of old CDs I hadn’t listened to in years. I popped in Ben Kweller’s Sha Sha album and I had a teenage-repressed memory pop into mind.

The year that this album came out, I didn’t have a home computer; my boyfriend at the time did. I had asked him to make a burnt a CD of all his un-named MP3s for me; so I could get to know him better. I went home and amid the Tool, Korn and Blink 182, I fell in love with one track… It was only 149 seconds long. Those 149 seconds were enough to make me want more.

It took me ages to find the name of this singer. If I recall, I had to play him the song on my MP3/CD player and he admitted that the track was something his little sister had downloaded. Clearly this dude wasn’t meant to be mine. I waited for her to come home from Gymnastics, and she told me it was some guy named Ben Kweller.

The next day I went into Cheeky Monkey, the local music store. I asked for his CD to be custom ordered for me…
Then I waited.
I listened to the one 149 second-long track on my burnt MP3/CD over and over again.
I waited weeks.

(I can’t believe the amount of hooey I use to go through to get a new album…)

Then one day I went into Cheeky Monkey on my lunch. Instead of a chatty conversation I usually got to have with Mary Anne, the proprietor and clerk, she was busy with a group of customers. They were clearly not from my home town. They looked like a bunch of sleep deprived musicians, and I listened as they talked about their show that night in Detroit. They had never been to Canada before, and they were on the last leg of their tour. One had a maroon coloured corduroy jacket with a yellow t shirt with a rainbow on it… They were cute. I was intrigued… I waited; patiently for my turn at the register… fully expecting the CD not to have arrived in yet.

The musicians made their purchases. Goodbyes were said (and I think directions on how to get to the highway).
They left.
As the last one walked out the door I turned to Mary Anne, and asked her what the name of their band was. She said she had no idea. “Never heard of them before.” Then I asked “Did my Ben Kweller CD come in yet?
She just pointed out the door; “That was Ben Kweller”.
I ran.

I ran out the store, down the street, looking in all directions, and didn’t see them anywhere. Then I saw a small van with US plates driving away.
I felt like crying.
My teenage self was devastated.

I went back into the store. Marianne said the CD had come in, it was under the counter. (The band apparently also left behind a giant bag of chocolate chip cookies they had just got from the local coffee shop… THE coffee shop I spent hours in on a weekly basis… I had missed them there too.)
I paid for my album.
I went home.
I listened to Sha Sha on repeat (eating cookies and crying what-if tears).
(What-if tears are some of the bitterest tears a teenager can shed; for weeks I was mourning that missed opportunity.)

Following up on those 149 seconds was well worth it.
I love this album.
I know every lyric. And I get all warm and fuzzy when I listen to it.
Listening to it right now makes me realize that I don’t have too many regrets when it comes to weird opportunities that have popped up in my life.

The incident that will forever be known as the Ben-Kweller-Shoulda-Woulda-Coulda, is one of the last times I’ve felt like I’ve missed out on something big…
After the BKSWC, Carpe Diem (or YOLO in today’s lingo) was something I wasn’t willing to live without. It started being my mantra. It helped me stop being shy and start putting myself out there.
It also taught me something about myself. When I do miss out on something, I always run after it… And if it’s not meant to be, I always find some sort of consolation cookies.