Date a girl who listens to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Date a girl who spends her money on old Japanese 12 inch singles instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many Tom Petty tour t-shirts. Date a girl who has a list of Tom Petty concerts she wants to attend, who has had his eponymous debut album since she was twelve.
Find a girl who listens to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. You’ll know that she does because she will always be humming Mary Jane’s Last Dance. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the record store, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the rare UK import of Anything That’s Rock n Roll she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the vinyl of an old record in a second hand music shop? That’s the Tom Petty fan. They can never resist smelling the vinyl, especially when they are imports.
She’s the girl reading Conversations with Tom Petty by Paul Zollo while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of Mike Campbell’s guitar prowess and George Harrison collaborations. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who like Tom Petty do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.
Buy her another cup of coffee.
Let her know what you really think of Wildflowers. See if she got through the first half of The Last DJ. Understand that if she says she prefers the demo version of Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around without Stevie Nicks’ vocals she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves the American Girl or she would like to be the American Girl, raised on promises.
It’s easy to date a girl who listens to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Give her CDs for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of Tom Petty, in live DVD, in song. Give her Damn the Torpedoes, Let me up (I’ve had Enough), Into the Great Wide Open, She’s the One. Let her know that you understand that the words to Breakdown are love. Understand that she knows the difference between Tom Petty lyrics and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite song. It will never be your fault if she does.
She has to give it a shot somehow.
Lie to her. If she understands the lyrics to Lie to Me, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: Free Fallin’, Not Backing Down, Not having to be a Refugee, Not Coming ‘Round Here no More. It will not be the end of the world.
Fail her. Because a girl who listens to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a b-side. That you can begin again and again and still be Eddie Rebel, who went to Hollywood and got a tattoo. That life is meant to have a Hard Promise or two.
Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who listen to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers understand that people, like the characters in the song Into the Great Wide Open, develop. Except in the song Mary’s Brand New Car.
If you find a girl who listens to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM listening to Southern Accents and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the song are real, because for a while, they always are.
You will propose on a tour of Gainsville, Florida. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.
You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the song of your lives, and have kids with strange names like Benmont and Howie. She will introduce your children to Mojo and You’re Gonna Get it, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Petty under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.
Date a girl who listens to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her subpar rock music, and stale riffs and half-baked chord progressions, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who listens to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
Or better yet, date a girl who plays Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on her guitar.
Me: Why are we going on (The Storybook Land Canal Boats), again? Nicky: I love this ride. I love miniature things. Me: Miniature levels of excitement, you mean. Nicky: That’s true. It’s all I can handle. Me: You’re the fainting goat of Disneyland.