Monday, September 20, 2010

Party Like It's 1999

I'm sitting on a sofa listening to Pearl Jam's Daughter, drinking beer out of a Solo cup. The girl next to me is wearing sunglasses inside at night. The girl on the other side of me has on the requisite flannel and Chucks. I've got rips in my tights expertly manipulated by my gay friend who utilized a fork for maximum effect. We are mired in how cool we are, at a house party with good music, dipping our hands into a bowl of Doritos and sucking the powdery orange cheese off of our fingertips which are stained red from earlier Jell-O shots. We are situated in the 1990's, when the epitome of cool was saying, casually, "Oh, I'm with the band." That is, of course, unless you were high school rock royalty fortunate enough to utter with chilling complexity, "I'm in the band."

And then my cell phone vibrates and it's a friend asking me if I picked up a card for the bridal shower I have to attend the next day. And I'm rocketed back into 2010, and it's not the 90s, but Eddie Vedder is still singing and the beer is still cold in my hand, and I suddenly remember that I'm 28 years old and that the relics of my teenage years have now reached a classic status worthy of being a House Party Theme. We are old enough to mock who we used to be, and how cool we thought we were.

But I remember. Old cars with duct tape on the cracked leather seats and someone jamming The Smiths into a tape deck. When diners were hangouts, and Goodwill had the best flannels. Late nights and frosty breath and watching the seniors sneak cigarettes out on the playing fields during breaks from drama rehearsals. When life was distilled down to the immediate necessity of saying the right thing at the right time, knowing the lyrics to the right songs, and having the right shoes. What, really, has changed?

Oh, you insurance and retirement plans and memos and cars breaking down and mortgages and bridal showers and actually LOOKING like you're hungover instead of just feeling it. All of that. But sometimes I think we're all, deep down, just a bunch of fifteen-year-olds with our hands shoved into our pockets trying desperately to achieve that delicate balance of aloof and approachable, interested but sort of bored, non-nonchalant but vivacious.

So it's funny when we dig through our closets and pull out old clothes and try them on for a night for someone's house party theme. The music, at least, is still good. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, the old 99.1 WHFS line-up. We poke fun at who we used to be, and laugh as we eat snacks we would now never buy, and distort our teenage selves. I know how my parents felt now when I used to dress up as a hippie for Halloween. You take yourself so seriously at 15- you never envision yourself, thirteen years later, making a mockery of it.

So I think about thirteen years from now, and whether or not I'll be sitting on someone's couch listening to the Hotel Costes soundtrack and giggling as we eat hummus with pita chips and drink $7-a-bottle pinot while wearing skinny jeans with flats. If we'll reach a point, again, where who we are is dated and "classic" enough to be camp. If we'll have "2010 parties" in our later years and make fun of who we were in our twenties. If we'll joke about BP and Obama the way we did about OJ and cigars. If we laugh at how seriously we took ourselves at that time, and think of how much better off we are.

Kind of puts things in perspective.

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