Sunday, March 28, 2004

My friend slashed his arms.

These days, the hip thing to do when you're contemplating suicide is to run a blade into the undersides of your arms, calling on the courage to press down on your wrists. This leads to permanent scarring and a permanent seat in the House of Cool.

My friend is into emo--the songs written for teenage boys to rhapsodize on how the girl never took him to prom and therefore civilization is ending. You know, the teenage feeling that everything you do could make or break the rest of your life, that your worth in society for the next seventy years is determined by your actions in middle school.

This is a load of hooey, but I felt it too, when I was in middle school. I contemplated suicide because I felt that society should no longer have to deal with Leticia the outcast, Leticia the dysfunctional cog in the otherwise perfect machine of Hicksburg, Leticia the orange splotch on the otherwise neat street. It took the strength of my two best friends--and the knowledge of how sad they would be if I were to kill myself--to keep myself from doing the deed.

So I can't help but feel anything but disdain for Linkin Park when I hear them articulate that feeling--"Crawling in my skin, these wounds they will not heal"--as if somehow, the insignificant mistakes and mishaps of high school will scar you for the rest of your life. The skinny girl didn't ask you to prom? Your girlfriend got drunk and fucked the football captain? Or, for us girls, your first foray into non-virginhood wasn't all it was cracked up to be? "These wounds they will not heal!"

(to be fair, many people do have right scarring experiences in teenagehood--having abusive parents or being marked the neighboorhood slut ranking among them--but people can and do recover, and you need to empower yourself to move beyond them rather than wallow in your own misery. Don't let your shortcomings become your identity.)

So I went to the bookstore and found a book on emo culture and tried to discern why my friend wanted to slash his wrists. It was trendy, I figured; my friend was obviously contemplating suicide (and this is a popular friend of mine; I continuously heard him talked about by my peers as the most thoughtful and mature preteen they know of. That is, until he started smoking pot. I hate pot. Drugs are not cool. That stupid animated mascot from fifth grade was right. But I'm getting ahead of myself), but could he also have been motivated to make these scars because all his friends were doing it?

But, you know, I was looking in the wrong place. I realized, about a chapter in, that I was only reading the book so that I could find a way to justify the "I Hate Linkin Park Because It Made My Friend Slash His Wrists" rant that was making its way to my fingers. Of course Linkin Park didn't make him slash his wrists. Teenage angst, and contemplation of suicide, are both perfectly normal (if bizarre and shocking) aspects of growing up. I just wish he didn't have to damage his beautiful body for life in order to express his emotions. So I grieve, and I try to shove the blame as quickly as possible at the most convenient target, which is Bands Who Make Wallowing In Your Own Emotional Despair Cool Again.

My dad listens to the blues. Throughout my childhood, I always wondered what he got out of it. If you can listen to any commercially available music in the world, why would you want to listen to a guy bitch and moan about how he shot somebody in Memphis and his girlfriend left him but she weight 300 pounds anyway and MWAH WAH WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH (boom boom boom boom boom boom) ...and there's no money left in his bank account and John Q. Mobster is coming to bust his kneecaps. Why the hell does my good Christian father wash dishes to this?

But one day he watched a documentary on blues ("Bluesland," for those who are following me), and the well-dressed, somber, heavyset black man (with his deep sexy voice... oooh) told us, "I want to eat applesauce-covered Leticia in one mighty slurp." No! No! How did that get in there?! (rewind....) He said, "we all get the blues sometimes--and nothing gets rid of the blues like blues music." He went on to describe the "two blues devils, fightin'" and how listening to the blues can sometimes provide an articulation and a release for the blues inside of all of us, even if we never shot nobody in Memphis. I found that charming; I play videogames, and I can often find humorous release of my inner passions on the flashing box.

So, it's not all Linkin Park's fault, just like it's not all Doom's fault, or Mortal Kombat's fault, or jazz music's fault, or swing music's fault, or Shakespeare's fault. We have our own ways of articulating our inner passions. I just don't know what to do about my friend's arms.


(I did what I supposed I should do: I hugged him and said "We love you!" I hope it helped, you know... I didn't get that in Hicksburg...)

(wah wah... crawling in my skin...)
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