From The Desk Of We Are Scientists: Getting Over A Girl

We Are Scientists—the duo of vocalist/guitarist Keith Murray and bassist/vocalist Chris Cain—are known for the oblique humor and intelligence that they bring to their music, but a question about their sharp mental acuity produces gales of laughter. “I don’t believe brains or wit are particularly helpful, or necessary, in pop music,” Murray says, still chuckling. “If we intended our appeal to be narrow and excessively insular, those qualities might be good for us, but nobody likes a smartass.” Despite this protestation, the songs on the band’s new LP, TV En Français (Dine Alone), are brimming over with wry humor and skewed insights into the state of modern romance. TV En Français was recorded with the help of producer Chris Coady (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, TV On The Radio), who helped give the album a polished, expansive sound. Cain will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our brand new feature on the band.

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Cain: Every breakup is its own animal, but they all have a few things in common: rabies, a bad temper and blood thirst. Speaking less metaphorically, if you look at a thousand different breakups, you’ll see two thousand different sets of problems, but over our many combined years of romantic involvements, we’ve been able to ferret out four very general rules that apply to 99{e5d2c082e45b5ce38ac2ea5f0bdedb3901cc97dfa4ea5e625fd79a7c2dc9f191} of the brokenhearted, and we want to take this opportunity to get them out to a wide audience. Adhere to them strictly, and these rules will help you ferret out harmful behaviors that retard healing; they’ll put you on the path to a mended heart, ready to go out there and take another swipe at happiness. (Note: We phrased these rules as advice to a guy getting over a girl, simply because that’s been our specific experience. These suggestions are so general and all-encompassing, though, that they readily apply to anybody who’s sifting through the wreckage of a broken relationship.)

1. You must wean yourself from the addictive practice of peering in through a window from some night-clothed hedge or tree limb as your former beloved performs amoral acts of carnal assimilation on her new crush atop the expensive new sheets she must have bought between now and the last time you were with her, last Tuesday. You must also not review the tapes you made of them coupling on other occasions. Or at least, don’t watch them over and over—if you find yourself immediately rewinding a tape as soon as it finishes, not even pausing to pop some corn, then you are unhealthily obsessed with what’s on the tape. If you have transferred the tape to DVD so you can skip rewinding altogether and seamlessly loop the video, you are unhealthily obsessed with the tape. If you have made a collage of particularly juicy moments from each of your dozens of tapes and tried to work some sort of narrative into the visual quilt through the use of voiceovers and CGI, then you are unhealthily obsessed with these sex tapes, but you are also a budding and potentially very gifted pornographer who should by all means follow his muse.
2. You have to stop calling her. Not completely; that’s not what we mean, and you know it. It’s the late night calls, the ones where you fail to identify yourself and then sit in silence listening as she gently reminds you—though compassion gives way further each day to frustration—of all the reasons it wasn’t working and had to end, and that besides she’s really into this new guy because they connect on a level the two of you never did (you’ve seen it happen) and don’t you want her to be happy?—those calls you need to stop making.

3. You need to quit the thing with the hooker, whatever her name is. At first it may have been palliative, sure, but it has become very destructive and it must stop. We know what you’re thinking (we’ve been there too, remember?). You’re thinking, at least subconsciously, that for you while strolling Sunset Strip late one night on your way to get donuts to just happen upon a hooker who looks a lot like your ex … well, that’s fate stepping in and offering you a helping hand. And that this hooker, from behind, could be your ex’s twin-slightly-older-sister … sure, fate is good, fate is kind. But at this stage you’re malingering. You’re using the crutch well after your foot should have healed. You even told your ex that you’d met someone that reminds you of her, which is a sick thing to say considering the facts, and only ended up biting you in the ass when she congratulated you with heartfelt sincerity. Besides all that, we might as well tell you that a blood test will reveal that your hooker friend has been giving you a veritable cornucopia of added value for your $60.

4. If you’re ever going to get on with your life, you’ve got to start seeing new people. We know how hard this can be, but once you’re over the hump, you’ll really appreciate what a difference it can make, how much it can make you feel that you’ve moved on. Now look, we know you’re bad at this, and that’s why we’re going to go ahead and advocate your mild inclination to pursue things with that girl, the friend of a friend, whom you had sex with that weekend last October when your (now-)ex was out of town. So you called her last week, the two of you got together and had a few drinks, and you excused yourself early in the evening, citing an early morning the next day. In fact, of course, you were sighing big relief as you strolled home; this girl was every bit as unappetizing as you remembered, every bit the “fuck only when plastered” type, and you’d be damned if you were going to sink that low just because you were going through a tough time—the fact is, you suspected that taking such a nose-dive in quality from your ex to a new girl would almost certainly do your sense of self-worth more damage than good. You’d be surprised. First of all, you’re paying for sex right now, OK smart guy? Think about that for a second, digest it. You are paying. For sex right now. So just relax, get down off your high horse, and think practically for five minutes. Now: You’re going to be 27 in September—27! It’s time to act a little more grown up, a little more French, about all things sexual and romantic. Looks aren’t everything, you know this. Did you also know that personality and likeability aren’t everything? Well they aren’t. A lot of the time, “everything” is just having someone to share a taxi home with at the end of the night so you don’t have to think about what’s missing. Because technically, nothing’s missing—there’s a warm body beside you, night after night, and you can go to brunch with her on weekends, and you don’t have to see her during most of your waking hours because you’re at work, so who cares if she’s not beautiful and witty, or even sexually attractive and nice? You wanna move on with your life? Here’s the prescription: Call that girl back, the ugly one you cheated on your ex with. Go out with her this weekend. Get drunk and go home together. In a month, move in together. Two years from now, start over. And repeat. And repeat. When you find someone you’re not absolutely itching to leave after two years, and she feels the same, check each other’s pulse. Still alive? Get married, buy a house in Azusa, have kids, some pets, some cars—boom, you’ve moved on. You’re done. And late, late at night, when your family slumbers and snores in carpeted rooms around you, and all the grinding distractions of your midlife days are terrifyingly absent, and you feel your heart’s as empty as the streets outside … well, you’ve always got those tapes.