Thursday, October 18, 2012

Shit I Loved In High School

In the suburbs of Chicago in the 90s, the word “hipster” wasn’t part of the vernacular.  The cool people in my family were going to Lollapalooza, hiding pot in their bed frames (true story) and having sex.  I was spending eons at the Palatine library reading weird little short stories from Native American authors and getting dropped off at Tower Records to listen to BritPop from the 60s on oversized head phones (The Kinks anyone?).  My parents attempted to make me a normal teenager by driving me ALL THE WAY TO LINCOLN PARK to get cool clothes at Urban Outfitters.  But looking cool was way too fucking oppressive for me.  And besides, I had a secret love of gingham.  So I adorned myself in wool sweaters from J Crew that aged me about 20 years and got horrible red highlights.  Take that, society!

Fast forward to “adulthood” where all of my useless knowledge of writing, music and (recently) food has made me someone that people want to talk while drinking craft beers.  For years, my parents insisted that one day I’d be cool enough to rule the world and it did not matter than no one was trying to finger bang me before prom.  And as long as patient, tortured, awkwardly intellectual teenagers hold out for 12 years, they will one day be cool (as long as you live in Venice Beach).   So to you children, I say REMAIN A SNOB.  Do not waiver on your disgust of your peers who love Britney Spears and think that Stephanie Myers counts as literature.  Hold out a few more years and you will be banging bearded dudes in Portland and waxing poetic about Intelligentsia coffee. Your snobbiness and inability to connect with your peers is a gift I tell you!
And in the spirit of understanding that geeky things you used to love will one day turn cool … I give you the highly edited list of things I loved in high school:

Supergrass “Alright”

This song came on at a french restaurant last week in Omaha, Nebraksa and I about fell off of my chair.  I told the chef “I love this song” to which he replied “It’s Supergrass” like he was dropping some knowledge on me.  Jokes on him when I sang the entire song to him from memory. Also, didn’t Fun. just rip off these lyrics?  Thank god Supergrass was cool before Flight of the Conchords ruined sideburns and long hair.  I forgive them, however, as nothing screams hipster like loving New Zealand comedians. 

Christian Bale

Did you know who Christian Bale was in 1994?  Be honest.  If you saw Newsies, I’ll give you that but then you completely forgot about him when you started crushing Jonathan Taylor Thomas from Home Improvement.  I, however, never doubted that Christian Bale was the greatest thing that ever happened to me because he was (a) British (b) beautiful (c) appeared to have talent and (d) seemed like  if you ever dated him he’d make good on the promise to ruin you completely.  I decided I loved him again in 1994 because “Little Women” came out – which appealed to so many of my synapses I almost exploded.  Well known female author.  Movie Adaptation.  Characters with a fuck load of feelings.  And Gabriel Byrne.  Enter Christian Bale as “Laurie” and you can bet that all of my future romantic fantasies would involve dapper wool coats.

Ben Folds Five

I went to a Ben Folds concert in Los Angeles a few years ago.  I struggled to decide whether or not I should mention that the place next door to that concert venue serves gourmet sausages and craft beers, but why not.  Go knock yourselves out kids.  But back to the story – I looked around at the audience assuming the theater would be full of people my age that loved navy cardigans and went to liberal arts colleges.  But no.  I was shocked to find actual TEENAGERS jamming out to Ben Folds.  Like people half my age, who thought there were actually five members of Ben Folds Five.  I went through the twelve stages of grief upon learning that one of my fave high school bands was relevant and cool.  For the record, if you look at my senior year book you will see that my favorite song was listed as “Kate” from Ben Folds Five.  90% of my high school class wrote “Time of Your Life” by Green Day.  If you really hate me, figure out a way to play that Green Day song at my funeral.

Costa Rica

There was a time and a place when if you told people you were heading to Costa Rica, they assumed you were part of a missionary trip or you were building houses.  My high school hosted a study abroad trip to Costa Rica that my parents paid for me to attend as a graduation present.  So that meant I got to study abroad, with my high school, two weeks after I stopped being a student.  For those of you who haven’t done the math yet, that meant that if I drank and slept my way through Central America, I had absolutely no one to answer to (except my primary care physician).  So imagine my surprise when I arrived, not in the third world wasteland that I was told about, but in fucking paradise, surrounded by monkeys, active volcanoes, pina coladas and famous soccer players.  And tree frogs.  Real poisonous tree frogs.  Not the stuffed ones you buy while eating sliders at The Rain Forest Cafe at Woodfield.  The trip expanded my horizons and opened my eyes and all of that bullshit, but more importantly it gave me the most BADASS STORY of my entire life.  I nearly died on a white water rafting trip, people.  I was knocked off the raft and dragged over boulders for miles as I struggled to stay alive.  THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED.  You cannot remain uncool with this kind of reality.

Wes Anderson

While you were tearin’ up your heart with N’Sync I was watching weird independent movies.  When I was a little girl, my dad would take me to Facets in Chicago for an international childrens film festival where you’d see women breast feeding 9 year olds on screen.  This to me felt like a normal day at the movies.  Subsequently, I missed the boat on the movies you are supposed to love as a 14 year old girl … basically anything that involves Meg Ryan.  Romantic comedies confuse and anger me.  And I call them comedies out of midwestern politeness, not because I believe that they are funny in any way (next up: my hatred of Tosh.O).  Do you know what is hilarious?  Wes Anderson’s 1994 film “Bottle Rocket.”  It’s the first time audiences saw the powerhouse trio of The Wilsons + Wes Anderson.  It’s fucking hilarious.  It’s so amazing, even Martin Scorsese named it one of his top 10 films of the 90s.  It left such an impression on me, that I forced my dad to take me to see Rushmore the day it came out.  That puts me in the same league as Portlanders who wear smoking jackets and eat macaroons.  And to think – you were watching City of Angels, trying to cop a feel on Tracy from remedial math.