An Odd Juncture
The last few posts here on the blog, as sparse as they may be, make it pretty clear that I’ve been dwelling a bit on the past lately. The distant past at that. Maybe it’s because for the first time my history is starting to feel much more out of reach and even a bit alien relative to my current reality than it ever has before. Much like the Voyager space probe steadily drifting away from our pale blue dot. Looking back at the faint light that still shines of where I came from. A speck that holds all my history, but grows more distant every moment, and a place in which will be impossible to ever return.
That’s a bit of a bleak and unfair metaphor of course, because it suggests that nothing worth talking about lies ahead, which is certainly not true. Andrea and I both have hopes and dreams, things we are looking forward to and things we are working on every day to get closer to those dreams. I have a lot of things in the future I look forward to. So don’t think that I feel like my best days are behind me. They’re just a lot easier to write about, and comforting to think about.
I feel like I had to get that out of the way… because for some reason I feel like I have to make a lot of excuses for what I’ve been doing recently. It’s not immoral. It’s not gross. It’s just weird. Weird in a way that I feel people would make an immediate judgement when I tell them what I’ve been spending my time doing. So for the past week or so I’ve kinda kept it as a bit of a guilty pleasure.
Take a look around the game room and you’ll see a lot of old relics. Nothing of particular value, but everything that at some point in the past was exciting and new. Things you’d be excited to tell your friends about. In my generation, it was the excitement of being the first one to tell a friend where to place a bomb to open a secret door in the Legend of Zelda. Or who were the first people in your class to go see Jurassic Park, and who could remember the names of all the different kinds of dinosaurs.
As a young person, there’s always a struggle to maintain your level of “coolness”. Coolness is the real functioning currency of the 7 to 13 year old. It’s what powers the social economy of what is elementary school. The more coolness you have, the more power you exert on the people around you. Coolness is what allows the mean kids to be mean, and usually get away with it. Not cool enough? Get more cool points. Sometimes if you’re starting to run low, you’ll do things you’re completely uncomfortable with in order to score a few cool points. Because the worst thing you can do is run low on coolness. Get too low… prepare for jokes, wedgies and getting ganged up on at the playground.
You don’t spend cool points like the rest of the world spends money. Cool points have their value simply by possessing them. Problem is they have an expiration date. So you have to always be working on being more cool. Lay low long enough, and eventually you won’t be cool at all! You’ll be a weirdo.
How to obtain cool points for 5th graders in 1994:
Watch Beavis & Butthead ^^^^^^^^^^
Own a Super Nintendo: ^^^^^^^^^
Have Ace of Base on CD: ^^^^^^
Have facial hair (boys): ^^^^^
Sweet Trapper Keeper: ^^^^
Watch Clarissa (girls): ^^^
Ace of Base on Cassette: ^^
Have a bike: ^
Dirty Shoes: v
No Trapper Keeper: vv
Can’t skate backwards: vvvv
Plays Pokemon: vvvvvv
Watch Clarissa (boys): vvvvvvvv
Have facial hair (girls): vvvvvvvvvvv
My goal was never to be the coolest kid in my class. That would have been nice, but my efforts were just to maintain a level above the wedgie and getting beat up level.
A long road… a long road to get here. Maybe I’m still ashamed to admit it after all these years I’m scoring points that will make me “uncool” as a 5th grader in 1994, let alone a 33 year old in 2016. So might as well get it out.
I’ve really been enjoying two things recently. Pokemon and Clarissa Explains it All.
So it’s out in the open now. Pokemon was a thing that was for “little kids” when I was growing up. I know it wasn’t out in 1994 but it just made for a nice chart. What I remember about Pokemon at the time was it was about little cartoon creatures. How dumb… It had different trading cards with rules that I didn’t understand. I had pretty much resigned myself that I’d never need to know anything about Pokemon.
Now after familiarizing myself with RPGs like Final Fantasy, and solidifying my love for Nintendo, Pokemon has grown to fascinate me. They’re still making new ones, and there are plenty of people my age who love the series. I started playing through one of the first games, “Pokemon Blue”. It’s so far a pretty rudimentary RPG. Not a super involved story, which is usually what draws me into these. The hook on this one really is seeing and catching the new Pokemon. At first I didn’t really care about that, but the more I play, the more I want to find new ones.
And Clarissa… this one is even harder to… well… explain… and even I don’t quite understand why I’ve been smitten with it. It started as I was looking up old Nickelodeon shows that I remembered, like Nick Arcade, Double Dare and Guts. I think I looked it up just looking for the theme song. I ended up watching the first episode. It’s far less “girly” than I always judged it as. It’s more like the family dynamics of a young teenager and some TV friendly hijinks. It’s quirky. It’s catchy. And for me, just like Pokemon, it’s new.
With my favorite games, I always wish I could go back and experience them all over again for the first time. I think that’s part of the draw of these two 90’s adolecent staples. For me, I really am experiencing them all over again for the first time. I had my 20 year old preconceptions about them, but as far as actually experiencing them… this is a first.
Another comforting feeling, and this more Clarissa than Pokemon, is the contrast to the stresses of childhood compared to the stresses of adulthood. Some days I leave work and just feel completly tapped by grown up things like getting radio stations back on the air, missing sales goals, creating a show worth listening to. And coming home to deal with adult problems like catorigizing expenses and repairing our cars. It’s so nice to soak up stories about problems like not having TV, having annoying relatives over, or how to convince your parents to let you do the things you want to do.
If I have one thing going for me now, it’s that now Cool Points aren’t worth much any more.