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Weirdo (and Johnny Depp)

April 1, 2012

I’ve been incredibly lucky to have wonderful friends for my entire life. I don’t take any of them for granted, nor would I trade any of them for anything. Okay, now that that’s out of the way…

I feel like it is time to tell the story about the [arguably] douchey-est thing I’ve ever done. Here goes:

In fourth grade I was the “new kid”. My family had just moved a total of 3 blocks, but it was a different town and a different world. I had just finished a nice stint at a wholly unpretentious Catholic school, was home schooled the year before that, and prior to all this, I had been the only white kid in my class since Kindergarten. Needless to say, I was in for a bit of a shock. It’s difficult enough to acclimate to a new school when you’re a social kid, or so I thought. Stillman School, and the entire town (especially the rest of the town) was an alternate universe. Everyone’s parents let them see Clueless (even though it was totally PG-13, and we were only 10), and then a week later everyone had platform patent leather sketchers and feather pens. I was definitely not allowed to wear heels, even if they were made of rubber. I felt like the poorest person in the world, and definitely picked my nose under my desk. Kids in my class had significant others and modelling careers and there was even a girl who was out of school for the year because she was on Broadway. I knew I had to knock one out of the park to befriend these people. So in an effort to make up for my nose picking and excessive talking and just general quirkiness, I invited almost every girl from my class to my birthday party, picked out a video from Blockbuster (the 10 year old girl crowd-pleaser Benny & Joon [sidenote: major fail. major], and in accordance with that theme, I begged my dad to ask Johnny Depp (who he was currently working with on Donnie Brasco) to personalize and sign 8x10s for each. girl. who. rsvp’d. as party favors. In a huge divergence from his entire personality, and I’m sure to his extreme embarrassment, my father delivered. Every girl who attended my birthday party in 1996 currently has a personalized, signed, black and white 8×10 of Johnny Depp. I still have mine and I hope you still have yours if you were there. Also, you could’ve stuck it out through one of the classics of the 90s for me, it was my birthday after all. This “trick” kept me just cool enough to not be the biggest (non-Korean speaking) loser in class.*

*it should be noted here thatBenny & Joon opens with the songI Would Walk 500 Miles, also stars Aidan Quin, Julianne Moore, William H Macy and Oliver Platt,and is streaming on Netflix. If you don’t immediately put this on right now, you are foolish. (I might be watching it in another window…so what?)

This is the photo. Not my signed copy, because I'm a grown up and I left it in my parents' house. I don't travel with these things.

I’ve never been very cool, but I’ve always been just cool enough to prevent myself from falling down the deep dark hole of being totally anti-social. The only exception here is seventh grade, where had it not been for my best friend since birth, I really would have had no one to hang out with. I’ve always been a little bit of a weirdo, and I mean that in the best sense, but I was able to surround myself with people who pretty much went with the flow of things, so eventually I had the kooky pushed out of me, which was sort of what I wanted. In retrospect, this was a bad idea. I definitely wish that I’d stayed weird. I think I would be better for it now. My younger brothers didn’t have to suppress their quirky pop-culture (or anti-pop culture) interests to be cool, they were cute boys and could like anything and be respected and “cool”. Girls are a different story. I was doomed. I don’t blame any of my friends, because like I’ve said, they were (and are) all fucking awesome, but I probably should’ve spent some more weekends alone with my parents listening to obscure jazz records and watching Abbot and Costello. Or I should have been okay with staying friends with the funnier, quirkier girls at camp, instead of spending so much time trying to impress “cooler” girls who hung out with the hotter guys (who, granted, are on MTV and stuff now, but they still wouldn’t know me from a stranger). Had I just stayed in the bunk and made up songs while someone played the guitar I’d probably know how to play the guitar now, I’d definitely have finished and shot that short film by now, and I would most certainly have a lot more nerd culture references to make in my writing. I should have been friends with different people along the way. I’m glad I wasn’t, because, like I said, I would never trade in a single one of my friends, but I probably should have given some of those dorkier kids a chance, mostly because they’re super interesting adults now and I wish they loved me. (Ignore the fact that this is entirely selfish, please? Or don’t, whatever)

Damn you, world for making me too cool to be a good nerd and not cool enough to get on nightclub guestlists. (FYI, you couldn’t pay me to go to a “cool” nightclub. Seriously, I know people get paid to go there and I would never do that. Mostly because I think most nightclubs are the antithesis of “cool”. Every time I write “nightclub” I age six years, don’t I?)

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that I’m underwhelmed by my own creative chutzpah of late and I’m going to blame it on external circumstances, not my inability to focus and/or finish what I start. How does that sound? Also, I’m reading Mindy Kaling’s book and it’s making me jealous/feel inadequate. I know the answer is “work harder”, but I decided to write this instead of outline my new sketch series, okay? What would you rather I do? This, obviously, because you’re reading it! Oh, fine. I’ll start the outline.

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