Every week we ask everyone who hangs out around here to answer a tough question. This week:
What did you love as a teenager that you can’t stand now?
Rules are simple: what have you grown out of, or at the very least what do you think you’ve grown out of? Everyone is at their dumbest when they’re a teenager, and that’s never clearer than when you consider what you liked as a teen. When you were brooding, moody, and SMARTER THAN ANYONE, what were you, like, into?
I want you to hit me as hard as you can. I was just leaving my teenage years when Facebook became what it is today, but with Facebook’s boom in the mid 2000s we all learned about the most common things people we knew liked. The answers for “favorite movies” on Facebook were eerily consistent: The Big Lebowski, Boondock Saints, and Fight Club. I’m not going to lie to you, I saw Fight Club about ten times as a teenager. I read the book. I considered the deeper implications of the philosophy of Tyler Durden on my life. The Big Lebowski is a pretty good movie and Boondock Saints is a pretty bad movie, but Fight Club alone represents the terrible nature of a teenager best. What better movie is there to sum up the angst and rage of a teen than a movie about pushing the reset button to wake people up, man!? There’s also The Matrix, I guess, but Fight Club is especially horrible because (myself included) people seemed to latch on to the supposed message. I lived in the suburbs and sometimes drove past one version of a fast food place to go to another version of the same shitty restaurant. I was not bringing down the system. Clean it up, kids that like Fight Club too much.
Myself mostly. No, all jokes aside, I used to really love coffee, so much so that I worked at three different coffee shops over the course of ten years, from high school up to grad school. I drank the stuff several times a day, and, when I was on the clock, you better believe that black liquid cocaine rushed freely and sweetly through me. That day I quit working at a coffee shop, though, was the day I gave up coffee. It was like flipping off a switch inside me; I just never craved it from that day forward. Also the smell still makes me think of bitchy people.
Admitting that I ever loved something worthy of hatred would be admitting that I ever made bad choices. I only make good choices, ab aeterno.
I started writing and reading poetry more seriously during my senior year of high school. It was my first foray into contemporary poetry, and pretty soon I came across Billy Collins. My poetry education up to that point had been strictly assigned by English teachers, so compared to Shelley and Dickinson, Collins was off-the-cuff, and spoke with honesty and wit. He was so accessible. The reason I don’t read him anymore isn’t because he’s too accessible or because I think he’s a hack. I think Collins writes honestly and from the heart. I believe that. But he is so boring, in terms of both content and sound. Reading his poems out loud will put you to sleep. And the best of them are like diet drink poems. I think his next collection should be called Epiphany Lite.