Long-Distance Relationships, the Plain White T’s, and Dates at Wal-Mart

by Kimberly Grams

Ah, June.  It’s wedding season and love is in the air.  Lots of anniversaries in June too.  We attended a 40th party recently, and our own anniversary is June 15th – 17 years!  (A number that makes me a bit light-headed wondering where on earth the time went.)

The topic of long-distance relationships came up in February when it was suggested that I write an article on the Plain White T’s song “Hey There, Delilah.”  Living in a rural area with lousy radio stations, I’m behind on the music curve.  Being unfamiliar with them, I opted not to write a Valentine-y article, but to save it for later – so I’ve had a lot of time to think on it.

If you haven’t heard Plain White T’s, go to YouTube, their MySpace page, or Google them and take a listen.  “Delilah” is the song that made them famous, but I also enjoyed their peppy anthem “Our Time Now”, and I really liked their ironic break-up song “Hate – I Really Don’t Like You” (Chorus: “Hate is a strong word, but I really, really, really don’t like you”; it really, really, really cracked me up).  But, I digress.

“Hey There, Delilah” is about a long-distance relationship.  She’s in school in NYC and he’s written her this song.

    Hey there, Delilah, what’s it like in New York City
    I’m a thousand miles away
    But girl tonight you look so pretty, yes you do
    Time Square can’t shine as bright as you; I swear it’s true
    Hey there, Delilah, don’t you worry about the distance
    I’m right there if you get lonely – give this song another listen
    Close your eyes, listen to my voice it’s my disguise
    I’m by your side

And . . .

    A thousand miles seems pretty far
    But they’ve got planes and trains and cars
    I’d walk to you if I had no other way
    Our friends would all make fun of us
    And we’ll just laugh along because we know   
    That none of them have felt this way

I would have gone GA-GA for this song in college.  I left NJ to go to Valpo in Indiana, leaving behind a boyfriend two years younger.  We had dated for a couple months during my senior year, then broke up.  He was the only boyfriend I ever had, other than my husband.  Even though we weren’t still an item, he was my Prom date, and then our romance revived that summer when we had the romantic leads in “Lil’ Abner.”  In our heads we knew it was totally unrealistic, but in our hearts we felt just like this song.  We were young and thought we could make it work.  That lasted until about Christmas break, when I decided it was just too hard.  At the time, I’m sure I broke his heart, but we kept in touch later.  He’s now married to another girl we went to school with.

The song’s got a wickedly, insidious tune that gets in your head and sticks.  It brought up some fond memories.  We started telling our kids stories about “back in the day” and pulled out the prom pics.  They thought it was hilarious – and not just for the ‘80’s hair.  For both the Christmas dance and Prom, my boyfriend and I double-dated with . . . my husband, Jeff.  We shared a limo, sat together and had great fun. 

But then I realized . . . I’m actually in a long-distance relationship right now.  We have tweens, and school, and activities, and church, and life.  Most of our conversations involve schedules and there’s usually some kind of interruption – a kid, the dog, the doorbell, the phone, his cell, my cell.  It’s a regular thing that often several of those things are ringing/happening at the same time.

So we do what you do at this phase of life – schedule a date night.  We decide (in February) to go to Cheyenne, WY to Olive Garden.  That’s 3 hours of uninterrupted car conversation and pasta, which in our house is scarce due to our daughter’s celiac disease.  We try to plan for a Friday – his day off.  But, our school has some kind of warped schedule from February on where they have so many Fridays off it’s ridiculous.  And the 4th grade musical (for which I’m choreographer and assistant director) rehearses on Fridays, so I can’t be gone when there IS school. 

After the musical in April, we pick the ONE Friday that will work before school lets out.  The Spring Pastor’s Conference is the first part of that week, seven hours away, so it’s not perfect, but it’ll work.  Then a member passes away so he books it back for the Thursday funeral.  By Friday, he’s exhausted, and I’m running behind.  We’re out of most grocery items – enough that I will have trouble pushing the cart and lugging everything with a strained arm.  So guess what we did instead of going to Olive Garden?  We went to Wal-Mart.  And you know what?  THAT’S what real love is.  Giving up what you want to do, and doing what needs to get done for your family to function.  Sacrificial love – the kind Jesus taught us and that we humbly try to emulate.  Who knew I’d get all that from the Plain White T’s?

Shift gears.  The other thing I got from this was finding a band I wouldn’t have heard otherwise.  (Actually, that’s not quite true, because I told my kids that I absolutely HAD to finish this article and they were like, “Oh, that band was on iCarly” – which of course then I HAD to watch before I finished the article).

It made me think what else am I missing – and not just music.  I’ll be 40 (and fabulous) in November, so of course I’m into shows that cater to that;  I am drooling over promos for “She’s Got the Look,” a modeling competition for the over 30’s. And having tweens, I get plenty of “Hannah Montana,” “High School Musical,” etc.

But this is a website for Lutheran Youth right?  So here’s what I need from you.  What stuff do YOU think I should check out this summer?  Music, TV, Movies, Internet: what are your favorites?  I really, really, really want to hear from you if you’re high school/college age.  Email me at KimmerGrams@hotmail.com with your top 3 things you’d like to see for HigherThings.org.  I look forward to hearing from you.


Kimberly Grams is a writer and pastor’s wife who lives in Scottsbluff, NE. A dancer and an avid reality TV viewer, she has also written over a dozen articles featured in the Pop. Culture & the Arts section of HigherThings.org.

Created: June 9th, 2008