1. The first CD we purchased.
Tell me your first CD was David Bowie’s “Changes” all you want — there’s no fooling me. I know it was Aqua. You can’t bullshit a bullshitter.
For as long as I can remember I’ve been telling people that the first CD I purchased was Salt-n-Pepa’s Very Necessary. It was more of an indignant purchase than anything else; at the time, my sister was into blocking out my voice with her music and when I asked her what she was listening to, she told me I was too young to listen to them. Of course this only added fuel to my burning desire, prompting me to sneak a peek at her music, go to HMV by myself, and pick up a copy. “Yeah…Salt-n-Pepa’s Very Necessary, what’s it to you?” I’d unabashedly announce, unafraid to admit my hip proclivities at such a young age. “Sorry I’m not sorry” I’d seem to imply, “that I was born cool, y’know?” but then something happened that turned my entire life upside down.
My parents are getting ready to move and, while going through my old stuff, I found the famed Very Necessary album – the token, if you will, of my premature coolness. Except it wasn’t a CD at all — it was a cassette tape. Which brings me to the distressing point at hand: Carlos Santana. “But what does Carlos Santana have to do with all of this?” you’re probably asking yourself. Everything, I tell you. Unfortunately, everything…Because, you see, immediately after finding that cassette tape I then found my collection of CDs. And what was at the top of that pile, but Carlos Santana’s Supernatural. It wasn’t that this was just an ugly reminder of some of my odd tendencies as a kid, it was more of a shocking discovery. The mere sight of the album cover was enough to open the floodgates of a lame childhood long repressed; clearly I had buried this memory deep into the recesses of my unconscious. Come to think of it, it was probably the strum of his Spanish guitar that first wooed me. It was ’99, and Carlos was one of the world’s most talented guitarists. He paired up with Rob Thomas, with whom he made an unsettlingly catchy song, and I knew I had to have it.
2. Our first love.
Mine was awfully hair, had the sense of humor of a toad, and was about as faithful to me as Wilt Chamberlain has been to all of his girlfriends. What was yours like?
3. High school desperation.
Life is often one long battle with yourself to try and extricate the memories of high school from your mind. I try hard to forget my high school years, rife as they were with poor decisions, standards, and levels of self-worth. Such concerted efforts have certainly been detrimental to my knowledge of American history, geometry and Sylvia Plath, but I find it’s well worth it. Perhaps the best representation of my high school stupidity can be gleaned from the outfits I wore. Visible markers of my particular ilk of high school desperation? A French maid costume, Playboy bunny ears, an invisible skirt, and an exposed nipple. I never said this would be fun to read.
4. Weird phases.
We’ve all had them and we’ve all tried to repress them, but they just couldn’t budge from our consciousness, could they? Try as we might to forget our flirtations with tap dancing, we can’t, and so we may as well share these stories if, for nothing else, than to entertain those around us. In one of my innumerable weird-as-shit stages, my snapping figured prominently. It was around ’94. I was 6 years old and I had recently learned how to snap. And who was I to deprive those around me of the quick, staccato-like sound I honed to perfection? Long story short — I was hooked. I also spent a lot of time at the barn around that age as my sister, mother and I all rode horses. I can even remember the time of day — dusk. My mom and I were driving home from the barn and she told me to cool it with the snapping — Have you noticed you do it all the time? Like, everywhere? — because everyone was beginning to make fun of me.
5. All-consuming crushes.
Another thing that’s rarely fun to recall are our high school crushes and the Swimfan-like ways we pursued them. It’s taken awhile to achieve the unreachably high standards I currently have. One could even say it started in 2002. I was in 7th grade and my gaze fell on Julian Schnabel’s son in St. Barts while on a family vacation. Upon returning home I made it my mission to marry him (or, at the very least, talk to him). I found out which high school he attended and called the school every day asking for him. What can I say? I was a smooth operator. Cut-to: 12 years later and he still doesn’t know who I am. Oh, and I should probably mention he’s now dating Heidi Klum. Just the sight of him in tabloids makes me squirm with shame.
6. Uncomfortable, vaguely sexual encounters with adults.
I asked my lovely co-workers if they could provide me with any traumatic memories they’ve tried to repress, to which Michael responded, “An old man wanted to have sex with me and offered me money to do it — I said no and ran away.” And that got me thinking. While pedophilia is certainly not a laughing matter (unless it is), I’m sure we’ve all had one or more brushes with vague sexual harassment as a kid — instances that felt relatively normal to us back then, but seem exceedingly creepy and therefore kind of funny in hindsight. One particular moment stands out to me, which I was able to recall only after Michael’s comment. I was 4 years old, at a friend’s birthday party, and spent 80% of the party waiting on line to sit on the entertainer’s lap…Whew! I’m glad I got that off of my chest.
***Folders memory in the back of brain. Burns folder.***
7. Lamentable makeup choices.
As a child, the choices were endless. There was the blue and green lipstick from Ricky’s, the pronounced lip liner, or, if I was feeling extra fancy, the caked-on-foundation look. It seems my entire childhood was just a number of bad beauty choices, all strung together. When I first discovered the POP that black eyeliner gives to my blue-green eyes (age 8), I went nuts. I would constantly sneak into my mom’s bathroom and scribble her black eyeliner all over my lids. Then I’d emerge, sit back down for family dinner looking like an abuse victim, and would try to pretend like everything was normal. Then came my steadfast devotion to Rachel, my former eyebrow waxer. I followed her to three different salons, with my pencil-thin eyebrows trudging along right behind me. Another time I was all about this drag queen look:
8. Walking in on our parents.
As far as I’m concerned, my parents are celibate. They also don’t have genitals and aren’t human, but that’s a story for another time. But anyway…celibate — thats the way it is and the way it will always be…or at least that was my life plan until I walked in on them having sex. We were on a family vacation and I — I should have known better! After that fatal incident, I walked somberly back into the room I was sharing with my sister. I told her what happened, trying to get the words out through cries of “WHYYYYYYYYYY?????” My sister held me that night — she held me in her arms and cradled me until my hyperventilating slowed down to a dull weep and I was finally able to fall asleep.