You remember Will.
You don’t want to – he’s almost too bloody awful to be true – so you keep him locked away in the corner of your brain that’s reserved for massive wankers, and bring him out whenever you want to self-flagellate yourself with the question of what the merciful fuck you ever saw in him. Or you talk about him at parties. Because at least you got some good stories out of it.
“I’ve got one,” you say, as the talk turns to dating stories.“I dated this total douchebag once. How I put up with him for so long, I don’t know. He was three hours late to my birthday meal once, and he didn’t even apologise.”
Breath is drawn simultaneously by your audience. There’s a hot guy (or girl – any dudes reading, substitute Will for Sarah or something) in the corner, brooding into his beer. Is he like Will, you wonder? Would he cheat on you and justify it with something about how you should probably just not be exclusive anyway?
“What happened when he arrived at the meal?” asks hot person.
“He spent the whole evening complaining because someone in the restaurant was vaping. He called them a motherfucker and asked the waiter to kick them out.”
The room gasps as one again. Hot person is laughing.
“So you dumped him then, right?”
“Actually, no. I went to the cinema with him the following week. He stormed out in the middle of the movie and swore at a kid who was kicking his chair.”
“So then you dumped him?”
“No. I didn’t think it could get any worse, but he went and got the worst white-guy cornrows you’ve ever seen.” You pause for effect. “Then I dumped him.”
The thing is, we’ve all dated a Will. He might not have sworn at children or called people who vape motherfuckers, but he’s done some questionable shit. His behaviour probably ranged from wanting his own way all the time, frequently standing you up, and being a dick to your friends, to making promises he can’t keep (like that one time he promised you a holiday but instead took you to a B&B in Felixstowe which was, all things considered, a letdown) and refusing to delete Tinder even though you’re meant to be exclusive.
If he also had white-guy cornrows, then oh boy, do you need to take yourself outside and have a long word with past-you who dated him.
Because you know who else once had bad hair and an inability not to be an arsehole? Who promised us a momentous comeback; a magnum opus called Chinese Democracy, then took bloody ages to give us the B&B-in-Felixstowe of the album world? Axl Rose. Go back to our imaginary party anecdote, and replace ‘birthday meal’ for ‘gig’ and ‘people who were vaping’ with ‘ill-fated fan wearing a T-shirt bearing the face of a person Axl doesn’t like’ and you’ve got a summary of about ten years’ worth of his behaviour. In fact, I’d take a guess that Axl probably hates people who vape as well. God forbid anyone puffing out clouds of synthetic smoke at Coachella.
Ah yes, the reunion. Let’s just imagine that it’s been a really long time since you dumped Will, and you’re at the stage where you can shake your head and roll your eyes at his antics while also finding him a pitiful source of amusement. You stalk his Twitter from time to time, and see that these days, he’s got man boobs and is more into posting pictures of his cat and making weird attempts at political statements than he is being a professional douche (side note: if you haven’t looked at Axl Rose’s Twitter, do it now.). Then one day you get a text…
“I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I think we should go for a coffee,” says Will, brazen as ever. What you don’t know is that he’s also sent the same text to ten other ex-girlfriends, and plans to take you to the most expensive coffee shop in town and make you buy your own drink. Now, here’s where we go all Choose Your Own Adventure. Do you: A) Tell him LOL, you must be joking, or B) Jump at the chance to buy a really expensive coffee, and feel genuinely excited about the prospect of seeing Will and his new expanded waistline try to convince you he’s still sexy?
For everyone who chose option A, there’s at least one person who bought the coffee and drank the Kool Aid – Guns N’ Roses warm-up shows in Vegas (that include a $2500 VIP package where you don’t get to meet the band! Hooray!) have sold out. You wouldn’t let Will treat you like that, because you’re done polishing his ego. Sure, he might have been great at cooking/sex/choosing Christmas presents you actually liked, but when he decided to dedicate himself to full-time asshattery over his actual talents, you knew he was a lost cause.
Here’s the problem. Axl Rose was, once upon a time, a great frontman. Guns N’ Roses – before it became “a guy and some other guys” to coin a James Hetfield quote – were a great band in their heyday. Just like the way that the one time you had a nice evening with Will still sticks in your mind alongside all the bad stuff, the fact that Appetite For Destruction is one of the best rock albums out there almost makes up for Axl Rose’s questionable behaviour over the past two decades. Almost. Not completely. If he’s going to pull off the reunion shows, he must behave. He must not be late. He must not eject fans for spurious T-shirt based reasons.
Under no circumstances whatsoever should he turn up with cornrows, or without trousers. He could even go out on a limb and publicly admit that he’s been a bit of a dick.