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the original riot grrls

When you’re desperate you’ll do anything.

No, I don’t mean like that, though that’s a good example.

What I mean is, it isn’t shocking that I would agree to write for a snowboarding apparel company that is basically the equivalent of every slacker male lab partner I had in high-school. I’ll repeat myself solely for the sake of driving the point home and to beat the horse skeleton while I’m at it: I will write anything for money. Just give me a chance to.

Anyway, writing for this snowboarding company has forced me to recognize that
a) I am old
b) I am still not cool, and
c) I have become one of those adults who tries way too hard to be hip to the kids.

When I was a wee lass, playing bass guitar in my room, obsessing over Maynard James Keenan of Tool and dying my hair sea foam green with Manic Panic, I used to read magazines like Hit Parader, Circus, RIP and Spin, back when Spin was cool. Every time I tuned into Headbangers Ball on MTV (this was eons ago, when it showed actual music videos and wasn’t just an extended commercial for what appears to be either a very expensive and blonde STD or a sneaker that is also a cellphone) I would scrutinize every grown-up who came on to saucily introduce the next three minute screamfest. Did he have tattoos? Did he look metal? Did he do the ‘horns’ symbol with his hand and, if he did, did he stick his tongue out too? Was Kennedy wearing a skirt?

Maynard of Tool
All of these questions seemed imperative to the perceived depth of badassery. Any adult who had transcended the inner sanctum of rawk needed to prove themselves to me in some way, they couldn’t stumble over Sean Yseult of White Zombie’s name (it’s just Sean if you don’t know, dickheads) and they shouldn’t look Rob Halford in the eye. The sort of a fuck all attitude I aspired to attain was eagerly and carefully marketed to me as a suburban preteen. I shoved a safety pin through my right nostril, flipped the popular girls the bird, and practiced the baseline to countless Helmet songs in my room. The fact that I was also doing the chemistry lab homework for both me and my stoner partner, and that I was hoping to be a psychologist if the goth-metal bassist gig didn’t work out, didn’t matter.
Riki Rachtman is a dreamboat

I’m sharing this because I never lost sight of how authentic my cool was. I am still hip, even if the poster in my room is a vintage 1995 Nine Inch Nails tour promo. (No joke.) I am still cool even though I can’t tell you the difference between My Chemical Romance, My Bloody Valentine, or My Morning Jacket. I don’t know what the hell that kid behind the counter at the grocery store means when he says “rut ro” as my plastic bag rips. But I’m still relevant. Dammit.

snow fun

Then we scored this gig writing site copy for this snowboarding apparel enterprise that’s run by some Olympic medalist who is barely old enough to legally drink. I thought that this job would be awesome, it was young (like me!), hip (like me!), and active (like…okay, so I really don’t do much other than skateboard and ride my bike to the grocery store.)

Suddenly I’ve learned that I’m not so spry anymore, both in corpus and in characters. I’m not going to cite examples ‘cause I have this condition known as woeful pride and wouldn’t dare humiliate myself to that degree, but I’ll share that not only am I out of touch with youth vernacular, I’m also kind of lame.

For example, when listening to some of the glazed eyed ‘boarders who lolled about the offices when we went for our meeting I overheard some kids who were barely out of childhood’s pissing distance talk about a party where this alcohoe (my spell-check even tried to correct that one) took some skittles (apparently not the candy), got b-wasted, and proceeded to have a Technicolor yawn. Sad. But I have no idea what this actually means.

Spicoli

I took mental notes of half of the conversation that didn’t pertain to my paycheck, and when I went home and looked up “are doub,” which, to me, meant “are doubles” or something. I learned that it’s actually a noun meaning “slut.”

Because it means slut I really should learn it. In fact, when they come out with an Urban Dictionary that is simply catchwords for slut I’ll preorder it from Amazon. ‘Cause that’s how punk rock I am, I have a motherfuckin’ Amazon account, yo!? Questionable use of interrobang at the end of that sentence.

My projects for this company have made my brain turn to spaghetti. I have no idea how to reach our target demographic in a way that isn’t patronizing or trying too hard. And there is nothing — nothing — worse than trying too hard when you’re too old to know better. (Take note, thirty-five year old residents of southeast who wear bandanas and Ray Bans at night.)

The upswing of this is that there’s a distinct overlap between skateboarding and snowboarding, and my partner in crime used to grind pretty fierce back in the day. In fact, when we met in 1999, he was rarely seen without his four wheeled ride. Years of reading magazines like Thrasher make him much, much more capable of reaching the audience that we need to. I can edit. And brainstorm. And watch as he tries to do ollies off of the curb, still. (Yes, he’s still skateboarding. I’ve recently tried to take it up, but bruises and a general recognition that I’m gravity’s bitch has left me using the damn thing as little more than an installation art piece or an accessory.)

So when we get that sweet gig writing a bio, album promo, and press release for an aggro rock group with a female bassist, I am all over it. I know that my history can be applied to an assignment like that nearly effortlessly. But this twenty-six year old knows that thirty is a helluva lot closer than fifteen. I’m not even going to pretend that I know what tweakin’ crazy smooth on the rails means. Sorry. My guess is that it has something to do with making butterscotch in the sleeper car of a train.

Lastly, the sinking realization that I’m not invincible, which began when I ate it pretty intensely a few weeks ago on my bike, reached a crechendo this morning when, somehow, I managed to sleep my way to a seriously cracked rib. It hurts to breathe, I want to cry like a little bitch when I move, and all I can do is type and listen to The Knife in order to stop myself from entirely losing my shit. Rut ro, indeed.

snow elephant
—-

[Editor’s Note: Thank you so much, each and every one of ya who read this. The comments are better than multiples and every email makes me gush. I never thought it was possible to love strangers, and I know that sounds creepy, but it is both true and creepy. I love y’all. It’s enough to make me stop being a cynic. Just kidding.

Also, I know a lot more can be done with this site than the standard, boring WordPress stuff. I’m working on it. Please keep reading and reaching out. Stay awesome.

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16 Comments

  1. Rather than admit my idiocy in slang, I rely VERY heavily on urbandictionary.com – Thank god for the Urban Dictionary.

  2. INTERROBANG!?

  3. Also: the reason I told you to man up over your “brusied” rib, is that they can’t do shit for a cracked one either.

    Still be a good idea to get it checked out incase its not yr rib.

  4. Being 30, this makes me feel doubly old. But in a “The Kids Are Alright” kind of way.

    I think I hurt myself sleeping, too.

  5. OK, so being 22, I’m maybe not old enough to say this yet, but the older I get I definitely feel cooler. I have a sweet apartment. I can go to sweet bars. I’m not in school anymore, so I can pretty much do whatever I want. Much better than being fifteen.

    And besides, maybe you don’t know the slang, but you can sling words around with the best of them. Fifteen-year-old kids aren’t the ones with ideas worth reading about.

    But if you’re really concerned about feeling cool, you shouldn’t title your WordPress posts things that are reminiscent of John Mayer lyrics.

  6. my 30s were way more fun than my 20s, mostly because i developed better ways of dealing with crazy people. as my 40s approach i can’t help but wonder if this will be the magic decade when i’ll start to seriously lose touch with “kids these days”.

    will my impending uncoolness come as a result of me trying to stay the way i am now against the “new cool”, or from the overall malaise of “losing my edge”? will i resist this process by seeking out the New, or will i just circle the wagons with my peers, reveling in the Old Ways until we die?

    anyway. for what it’s worth i think you’re very cool, which 1) may not be the cool thing to say, and 2) may cause others to think the opposite. but i’m a rebel like that.

  7. The nice part of being 40 is that I suddenly do not give a fuck about being cool. It’s pretty relaxing, really.

    26 is a bit young to be feeling your uncoolness, but what the hell do I know? I’m neither young nor cool, although I appreciate the Scooby reference.

  8. Tracy Lynn: not that it matters, but is it Scooby or Astro?

  9. I’m not sure that you’re the “unhip” one in a conversation with three teenage snowboarders about a woman throwing throwing up.

  10. Ben, sadly enough I think I can weigh in – I think it’s Astro. Wasn’t he always saying “Rut ro Reorge?” I may be on crack though – but one of my kids was watching “The Jetsons” on some cable cartoon channel yesterday.

  11. If you really don’t know what ‘rut ro’ means, you may be relieved to learn that it’s because you aren’t old enough.

    I’m old enough to remember seeing the JFK assassination coverage live, as well as watching the Jetson’s cartoons on Saturday mornings.

  12. I was never as cool as you, but I can relate. Coming up to 30, two fucking kids (who are two of the coolest short people in the whole, wide world), a distinct feeling that the world is passing me by. I go out and feel totally random and irrelevant, I forget I’m uncool and have embarrassing conversations with the kids at the coffee shop/grocery store/oh who am I kidding, those are the only two places I ever go anymore.

    well, that was random. You’re a really good writer, but you already knew that.

    (and old? I put my back out – I slipped on the pavement (pushing that bloody stroller) and ended up getting xrays and physio.)

  13. Growing up a speccy kid in Seventies Scotland was never going to make me cool. I didn’t care (ha!) – but what is clear is that I cared less in my twenties, loved the fact I was uncool in my thirties and my forties are blessed with discovering that I am, in fact, brilliant at being a deeply sarky and very verbal harridan. This is heaven. You will LOVE this.

  14. As a fellow 26 year old, let me extend my…uh, no, too dirty. Let me assure you that you’re not the only one. Of course, I was *never* cool as a teenager, and am much more awesome now… but I still feel totally disconnected from the ‘kids these days’. I’m finding myself watching kids and saying things like “He’s only 10! Why the hell does he need a cell phone? Who does he CALL?”.

    I think it’s one step away from being the crazy cat lady shrieking “GET OFF MY LAWN”. Shit.

  15. I just want to say, I completely understand where you’re coming from and it made me feel better to hear someone else say it.

    I’m 23 and I’ve just realized that even the 21 year olds in my office seem way too fucking young. When did people who can legally drink become to young for me to consider fucking? And I have no idea what my 15 year old cousin means when he says something is “so scene” like it’s a good thing and I want to simultaneously laugh in his face and smack him upside the head for taking emo seriously and wanting to be emo and thinking that Atreyu *is* emo. You know what I think when I hear Atreyu? The Neverfuckingending Story.

    Lately I just keep thinking, when the hell did I become old? I’m only 23! All I know is that the next time I hear some punkass little teenage boy call my awesome 90s Rock “Classic Rock” I will beat him.

    Also, my girlfriend (25) is from Portland and also knows exactly how you feel…about just about everything.

    PS: “tweakin’ crazy smooth on the rails” sounds like a high-quality mobile meth lab to me and I don’t know how I should feel about that.

  16. Is it sad for me that at 26 I can still translate roughly 85% of what teenagers say to me?
    Sad example:
    Three snowboarders went to a party where a girl with poor judgment with alcohol took some form of E (I think that’s what skittles are, someone informed me of this at some point but it wasn’t important enough to stick in my head), drank to much, got sick and vomited all over the place.

    I can’t relate in any shape or form personally to these “kids,” but for some reason I still have enough semi-authentic street-cred to keep their stupidity in check when I’m around them.

    Oh, and for the record, Hit Parader, Spin, Circus, and Thrasher were never all that good. Skateboarding has long since whored itself out, and Scooby and Astro are the same character in different time periods.

    God… I am such a fucking geek.


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