The first time I dropped an f-bomb in front of my mother, I was seven. My brother had physically removed me from the computer game I was playing by pushing the chair I was sitting on to the opposite side of the room. “You’re a f-cking jerk!” I yelled. (Seems like an overreaction, but like… you don’t remove me from a computer. That game of Oregon Trail wasn’t going to finish itself.) My mother, who was in the room (I know, party foul) dragged me by the arm into the bathroom while my dad was showering and stuck a bar of soap in my mouth. The bar of soap with which we washed our hands before dinner. This is an actual parenting method, soap in the mouth. It is not a threat, it is a thing that parents actually do. And I mean, it’s effective, because even now when I curse in front of my parents (tastefully, mind you, and I have earned that right after years of neutering), I immediately flinch like a dog getting shock treatment from Cesar Milan.
God, it killed me to see my classmates come to school with orange rubberbands on Halloween, and like, rainbow ones just because, and black ones because they were really feeling the new KoRn album… everyone pretended to hate it, the whole ‘metal-mouth, I-sleep-with-a-retainer’ thing, but I was obsessed with their tooth-jewelry. The tragic thing is, as it turns out, I probably could’ve benefitted from braces back then (I’m too proud/old/uninsured to bother with them now).
You know the old MTV slogan, “I want my MTV”? Well I really, really wanted my MTV. I don’t know if you remember how difficult it was to fake seeing a television show or hearing a song before the internet blew up, but it was pretty damn hard. And obviously I had to lie about these things, obviously, because I grew up in a metropolitan area in the 90s and what kind of kid like that didn’t have cable? (This kind of kid.) Instead of having my MTV and eating it, too, I had The Box. I usually found it on channel 60-69 (The Box was like, really indie? And didn’t do things the way other channels did things? Like, stay in one place?) and I’d have to duct tape the antenna to get clear reception — where the duct tape was most effective depended on the day — and The Box essentially played the same 10 videos over and over. (“Tonight, Tonight” by Smashing Pumpkins; “Thin Line Between Love and Hate” by H-Town; “Down Low” by R. Kelly; “Peaches” by the Presidents of the United States of America; “Ironic” by Alanis Morissette; “In My Bed (Remix)” by Dru Hill; “California Love” by Tupac; “1979” by Smashing Pumpkins; “Red Light Special” by TLC; “They Don’t Care About Us” by Michael Jackson.)
My impression of magazines, for a long time, was that they were totally crappy. (If your mother’s reading habits were similar to my mother’s — TV Guide, Family Circle, and Jet, to name a few — you probably feel the same way.) Magazines continued to lack a certain romanticism as I grew older; my dad began to let me read his old MAD magazines (which I loved, but they mostly smelled like a funeral home and were often missing their covers and most of the pages). So imagine my surprise when, in 4th grade, I was introduced to Nickelodeon magazine, a glossy for people my age and living in my era! Of course, I wasn’t allowed to have a subscription to that or to any other age-appropriate magazine because, I don’t know, my parents said so and that was pretty much the end of that. Oh, but Nickelodeon… it was like everything I couldn’t have in a shiny little nutshell.
A Broken Arm
Um, who didn’t want a broken arm? You didn’t have to take notes in class, people carried your things around for you, you got to tell a cool I-broke-my-arm story, and you got a CAST. That people could SIGN. Even your crush! Your crush could draw a sad kitty with a speech bubble saying, “Get well soon!” and then it’d be clear that you were meant to be together, and how would you know that unless you broke your arm? I rest my case.