"I like this," I say nakedly. It sounds good, it makes me happy, and I just like it. But clearly, I'm unworthy to have that feeling or make such a bold proclamation. "Well, have you heard this, that, and the other?" you counter, ready to size me up in a competition I didn't enter. Before I've had a chance to answer, you frothily continue: "Do you have the other's side project that he did with they, them, and those? It's going for $30 on eBay, but I have an original cassette that the other gave me when I hung out with him backstage at the Lounge Ax in Chicago. The Lounge Ax was a great club. I hung out there all the time in '91, back when Nirvana used to play there. Too bad it's closed now. The cassette's pretty good, but what's really awesome is the stuff other did with Yahootie. You GOTTA hear Yahootie, they do a cover of... blah, blah, blah."

Fucking blah. Must it always be an obsession, can it not simply be a pleasure? How can you enjoy something that you've vivisected, backed over, and waved around for all to see until it was grizzled and frayed beyond recognition? Some geek is now selling it on eBay in what he claims is excellent condition. He loved it so much he never even played it.

I can't imagine I would ever engage any of my girlfriends in a battle of musical one-up-womanship if one revealed a favorite song to me. If I did, she'd just shrug and change the subject. But it's impossible to change the subject with you, boy, because you have no other competitive interests. You don't engage in physical activities because, why? -- they cut into your listening/bragging time? Or maybe it's because you might get pounded, and it's impossible to feel smug while you're getting pounded. You learned that way back in grade school, I'm sure. So now, what should be a pleasure, a beautiful collection of sounds that make you happy and you enjoy, instead becomes a battlefield in which knowledge of the ultimate obscure project signals a goal. No scratches (unless you count the personal foul you just committed). Yahootie equals touchdown, and he'll sing your victory song to you and you alone, because you're the only one in the game. It's yours; you won it, and you can have it. Alone.