Revisiting 'Friendster': Assumption That I'm Cooler Now Debunked

My dad used to wear this tacky shirt around that said "Still Perfect After All These Years" on the front. What's tackier still is that I may have unwittingly adopted this as a personal philosophy.

Following an unlikely thread lead me back to the Friendster account I forgot I still had. It stands, along with my 2002-2006 livejournal, unedited, as a monument to age 18. Yes, that's Amelie you see under "favorite movies." Cringe along with me.

The worst part: my friendster is not really the relic I think it should be after nearly 5 years. I mean, remove about 5 of the bands, The Bell Jar, the highly affected side ponytail, and you've got a reasonable facsimile of Current Me. I consider it a great injustice that I have not become monumentally cooler since then!

And yet, I believe that taking the gradual (natural?) approach to identity building is more respectable than the wild and desperate taking up of (and rapid abandonment of) pre-made and readily available identities. The person who can shift from bro to ska kid to juggalo to radical vegan bike punk to Buddhist nudist every 6 months bewilders the hell out of me.

Of course, what I'm calling a commitment to authenticity could also be called stubbornness or unwillingness to try things. It is possible that I have changed too little. After all, I'm here in my childhood bedroom again, which is hardly a Madonna-style reinvention of myself. I've made gradual, minuscule "improvements." I've traded friendster for myspace, myspace for facebook, and livejournal for this blog; I'm still erecting internet monuments to myself. Despite the fact that one of them emphasizes what I feel to be the uniqueness imbued to me by a steady diet of grandparent-friendly music as a teen, I am still a product of our times. What's more, I am still well represented by my friendster account. Dammit.


While You Were Sleeping, Pt. 2

I've always had trouble sleeping. When I was a kid, proposed 8:30 P.M. bedtimes would find me awake, sneaking out into the living room at 9:00, 10:00 and 11:30 P.M. I didn't want to miss something. I felt that as soon as I fell asleep, outrageous fun, secret lifesaving information, and greater truths would be immediately revealed to all awake persons. Time and time again, my parents proved this theory wrong, as their secret revelatory nighttime rituals involved nothing but Law & Order reruns and, occasionally, Hercule Poirot. Unfortunately, this lesson goes unlearned. I'll still spend nights awake, thinking I can prevent something unpleasant that might happen to me tomorrow by being awake to intercept the sandman and refuse to sign for his packages tonight. Is this line of reasoning totally nuts? Yes. Do I think it was influenced, in part, by over-analyzation of easy listening hits in my early teens? Well, that, my friends, is the hypothesis on which this entire blog is predicated.

"Softly As I Leave You" is the perfect example of an idea that might fuel my late night paranoia for years to come. The song is about a man who leaves his wife or girlfriend of many years in the middle of the night, because he "can't bear the tears to fall." How can I be expected to sleep when there is a possibility that I could date someone this craven? See, I'd never be in this situation. I would be awake, waiting for the opening strains of "Softly" and the sound of feet slipping into shoes. The fellow would have to overcome his cowardice and just tell me he wants to break up, or, if he's still hell bent on sneakin', slip a heavy sedative into my mid evening kombucha.

(A lot of artists have recorded this song. I chose this video because the accompanying montage is inexplicable and really stupid).


While You Were Sleeping

As a lifelong devotee to insomnia, I've always had a soft spot for songs about being awake at night. Some of them just don't exactly fit my experience, though. Case in point: KCTC played at least 3 songs wherein male singers tenderly contemplate their female companions in the wee small hours while they sleep or cry nearby. Rather than offer any kind of tangible comfort or respectful silence, the fellow singing chooses instead to either ignore or annoy his groggy and distressed lover, (with the exception of John Denver's "My Sweet Lady").

Item #1: "She Believes In Me," Kenny Rogers
Kenny Rogers is working harder than a shoemaking elf to get some decent songwriting done in the middle of the night while his wife sobs in the other room over his repeated failures. All those circled newspaper want-ads smuggled in between the pages of his copy of Hustler and hours of despairing glances from her are enough to stymie his creative process, apparently, and he has to do all of his "work" at night. Insisting, with determination, that she "believes" in him, despite her audible weeping suggestive of the contrary, he hopes that this song, the one he's singing right now, the one that's keeping her awake as he belts it out, mouth filled with Gardetto's Snack Mix, will finally pay off the 2nd mortgage and make up for 4 years worth of unfulfilled promises.
(Be sure to watch for the fabulous surprise ending in this video!)

Item #2: "Mary in the Morning", Glen Campbell
Early bird Glen Campbell creepily catalogs every movement of his sleeping lover, Mary, noting the way the dappled sunlight freckles her face and hair, likening her somnambulist beauty to summer flowers, and similar flourishes evocative of a Summer's Eve douche commercial. He pauses from his dewy-eyed reflection only to disturb her ever so slightly with unauthorized kisses. If he loves her so much, maybe he should consider using this valuable time to make her a pancake surprise instead of inspecting her moles/trying out the shaving-cream-and-feather trick on her.

Item #3: "My Sweet Lady", John Denver
A wakeful John Denver, no doubt thinking about conservation and a New England Christmas with Kermit and Piggy, consoles his sweet lady as she awakens from a tearful nightmare, assuring her that he will never leave her. Honestly, I can't make fun of this song; I cried when I first heard it. At age 13, and now, I well up with emotion (and estrogen?) whenever I hear him wail, "I wish that you could know how much I looooooooooove you!" For some reason, the idea of waking up next to an overwrought balladeer who can silence any disparaging thoughts with vows of everlasting affection is really, really appealing to me.

Sweet dreams, readers.