Marr (left) and Morrissey from The Smiths pose together in the store room of Rough Trade records in London, January 1983.

The Smiths

We were having a perfectly fine conversation until she said, “I love this song!”

She tugged my arm, not the one holding the drink, the other one, towards the center of the club, where folks sloppily danced.

I looked up at the rafters, like an animal sniffing out its prey. I recognized the jangly guitar riff, but couldn’t place the song. I lowered my eyes and swirled the ice in my drink, figuring I’d rather not try to dance an unfamiliar song.

“I don’t know it,” I said.

“It’s the Smiths!” she said, rolling her eyes, but still smiling. “I have so much to teach you.”

She kissed me on the cheek and, keeping her eyes on me, danced to the center of the room.

The singer crooned:

Take me out tonight
Where there’s music and there’s people
And they’re young and alive

All through the song she danced looking at me, not diverting her eyes once.

My ego and her cynicism got on really well
And we would say,
“What would you do in case I die?”
Or, “What if I had AIDS?”
Or, “Don’t you like the Smiths?”
Or, “Let’s shag now.”

Gurb Song by Migala

We were lying on the bed as the laptop shuffled through an indie playlist. The current song faded out and was followed by a familiar jangle of guitars. Take me out tonight…

“This is a really good song,” I said.

“What is it?” she asked.

“You don’t know it?” I arched my eyebrow, pointlessly, since she couldn’t see my face. “It’s the Smiths.”

Memories galloped through my head. Nights of dancing, or not dancing. Walking out of a darkened campus, feeling terribly alone, and murmuring the opening verses over and over. Helping a friend who wanted to write the next hit Balkan pop song by loosely translating this song into Greek – and laughing so hard when he sang it that I fell off my chair and injured myself.

Sleepily, she said, “The who?”

Looking up at the inscrutable geography of the ceiling, I recalled a song by Migala where a couple ask each other life and death questions. The final question, the most important one, is if the lover likes the Smiths.

Why are we obssessed with sharing what we like with others? What if they don’t like what we like? What if they do?

“It’s just a song I like,” I said and rolled out of bed. I shut the lid of the laptop, silencing Morrissey mid-croon.

“It’s nice,” she said, eyes closed.

I placed my finger on the light switch and hesitated, taking a few moments to just watch her. Then I turned off the light and lay back on the bed. She nestled her head on my chest and we slept.

Image credits.
  • Photo: Clare Muller/Redferns

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