They said I could be anything. You know, the mysterious and ominous “they” of TV commercials and personal anecdotes. I could be writer, a singer, an artist, hell, even a movie director.
So why, why, why on earth did I decide to become an early 2000s emo teen (or rather) a parody of one, in Twenty-fucking-Eighteen?!
PSA: Writing is my jam, and my constructed identity as an emo-kid is only a part-time gig. So please, no autographs yet.
That said, what made a kid born in the year 2000 want to emulate a style that was popular in 2002?
Well, it all started with a Meme and a touch of something called…
4. Bile Fascination
Like many kids from every bygone era, I was always glued to the TV. I’d watch just about anything.
I consumed MTV and VH1. Like a tennis match, I’d flip-flop between the two, going from music video to music video (yes, they did play those). I can vividly remember watching the music videos to Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar, We’re Goin Down” and blink-182’s “I Miss You”.
Those were amazing; I lived for those songs.
I guess I was emo before I knew it.
So, with the knowledge of those bands and my newfound love, I learned they were considered emo perhaps by word of mouth. I didn’t go on the Internet too often back then, so it couldn’t have been from that. To me, initially, they were just rock songs.
But lo and behold, my interest in “emo stuff” was born in eighth grade, when I met a girl named Emma in theatre class. She was your stereotypical emo/scene/goth chick, with the straight black hair and equally black clothes. I always remembered her talking about My Chemical Romance 24/7, and she even used their song “I Don’t Love You” as one of her acts for an assignment. You could tell she loved My Chem because she wore the same shirt of theirs at least twice a week.
You could say I was fascinated by her. She was so exotic to me. She was one of those who wasn’t afraid to be her geeky self, and I loved her for that. After eighth grade, I shelved the emo-fascination thing, and pretended to be annoyed every time I walked into Hot Topic to look for My Little Pony and anime items. That’s where the Bile Fascination comes in. You see, Bile Fascination is a phenomenon where you ironically hate something to the point where you know everything about it.
3. Attack of the Obscure Meme: The Obsession Hits Full Force
I had just turned sixteen, and I’m watching a video of people watching cringe compilations. That’s sort of like the music version of watching a porn compilation full of surprise-vomit-gag ruiners. Everything was normal, until they got to this video of three Game Boy Advance systems lined up playing Pokemon with some song in the background.
What was this song?
Then suddenly, like a the most delicious rainbow roll poking through the ashes, a disembodied voice said, “SUM 41. NO REASON. LIVE IN ONTARIO 2005!”
I typed that in verbatim. I listened to it…and I thought it was the worst thing I ever heard.
Naturally, in Bile Fascination form, I downloaded the album version from Musicpleer and put it on my iPod Nano so I could listen to it with feverish obsession…
Ironically, of course.
Two months later, me and my dad are playing Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock for the Wii. We had just unlocked a new set. Excited, I opened it, hoping that that one Fall Out Boy song would be in there somewhere, since I was on a FOB kick. But instead, I saw something even more titillating.
A Sum 41 song.
I yelled at Dad that we were to play it first, and that it didn’t matter, because it was SUM FREAKING 41, and WHO CARES that I barely knew who they were and that I didn’t even care for them that much, because I KNEW THEM!
THEY WERE A MEME, DAD.
We played “Motivation”, and it was actually pretty good. And welp, there went another illegally downloaded song onto my iPod, under the album aptly named “Guitar Hero Songs.”
Once more chance encounter with Sum41 awaited me once their new single called “Fake My Own Death” came out and one of my favorite music reviewers filmed a reaction video to it.
It was totally r/fellowkids worthy.
The review got me so curious that I actually watched the video for it myself and cringed a lot. But that was how my obsession with the band started, because OHMIGOD THAT SONG WAS SO AWESOME TO ME. It sounded like an anime opening- so epic, heavy, quick and melodic- so of course it went straight to my iPod, on replay constantly.
Just listening to that song had led me to creating a Pandora station for them, downloading “The Hell Song,” “Fat Lip”, and “Still Waiting” in that order, and eventually listening to All Killer, No Filler in its entirety.
Ironically, of course.
But then, out of nowhere, it wasn’t ironically. I was enraptured. The Sums had got me by the scruff of the neck, and I didn’t care, because to me they were the System of a Down of 2016, and God dang it was I going to listen to every one of their albums, singles, and bonus tracks before their new album, 13 Voices came out on October 7th. I was officially emo, much to my chagrin.
The next natural step was…
2. Finding a Boo
I had caved in and started listening to the Emo Trinity, and other songs from some pop punk mashup video that I had heard earlier that summer. Coincidentally, this was around the time that I had this really weird dream that involved me befriending three cute anime schoolgirls. Doesn’t sound that weird, right?
What if I told you one of them was a trap?
Or, more specifically… this guy, Jason “Cone” McCaslin, the bassist of Sum 41 and my soon-to-be-friend/crush. That moment right there- me discovering who the heck that guy was- was the Beginning of the End.
I say that because I’m still obsessing over him to this day. (A little less extremely, though.)
My life changed on October 5th, 2016 when he first liked and retweeted one of my tweets, which was a picture of him as hedgehog (as in Sonic the hedgehog) that my friend drew for me. The beginning of a niiice friendship, where I gave and gave and he received and received.
Go ahead and read the “OHHHH” in Big Smoke’s voice.
But I’m not kidding about the whole “Me and him becoming friends” thing, because I actually became a totally dedicated fan. Over the course of the rest of the year and 2017, I sent him tons of tweets and quite a few emails, and he actually liked most of them and replied to most of them, too. I even made him an almost eight-minute-long birthday video that included tons of memes and jokes that he wouldn’t get, but he replied to me on Twitter saying that he “loved it!” anyway, and even thanked me for making it.
The confirmation of our friendship was made on the 26th of September, marking a year since I thought of him more than just “that one cute guy in the band.” I was in choir class and I turned on my phone to see if he responded, and after a few minutes of having it on, my phone buzzed and I was alerted with a message that I got an email, and it said, and I quote:
“I thought we were friends?”
I. Peed. Myself.
That was his response was to my asking if we could be friends, because he had done so much for me, as a lowly fan. (When I mean “so much,” I mean putting up with my hyper-annoying, hormonal self.)
And apparently, we already WERE?!?! This was Fangirling 2.0: The Next Level: The Movie: The Book: The Game.
And that whole “he’s thirty-seven, married with a kid and emotionally unavailable? Ah, fuck it. That’s not important!
He retweeted me, damn it!
1. Embracing the Meme and Attending a Korncert
By now, my early 2000s bands CD collection was bigger than a boner in a pie in 2003. I had them all, Pop punk? I’ve got blink-182, Good Charlotte, Simple Plan, and Sum 41. Nu-metal? Linkin Park, System of a Down, Korn, and Disturbed. Alternative metal? Incubus, Taproot, and Papa Roach. Post-grunge? Foo Fighters, Staind, and Seether. In May, my dad asked me if I wanted to see a concert with him. And considering that I missed out on both Warped Tour 2016 (R.I.P.) and Sum coming to Detroit (on account of me not being 100% emo yet) and that whole school thing, I was more than ready to oblige.
It came down to Incubus with Jimmy Eat World…
or Korn with Stone Sour.
Incubus vs. Korn? Talk about torture.
I thought about it all day, making a list in my head of all the songs I knew by each band and what mood I was in. In the end, I picked Korn, much to Dad’s disappointment (and later, when I became an Incubus and Jimmy fan, mine).
I listened to every album of theirs in preparation for the concert.
(Or, as I called it, the Korncert, because HA! Puns and Game Grumps references.)
Stop, don’t, come back!
But, you know what? I really enjoyed that freaking concert, and Dad did too, I think. Being there with all these tattooed, cigarette-smelling people who actually turned out to be really nice. Plus, I got to show off all my newly-acquired KORN knowledge. And joke was on them! I knew nothing about the damn band just a few months earlier!
All while wearing earbuds, because I don’t wanna be deaf at such a young age.
Isn’t modern instant Google search life awesome?!
But you know something, in full seriousness? Being at that concert sincerely taught me a valuable lesson I wish I’d learned earlier.
Don’t become another casualty of society, or victim of conformity and back down. Be a freak on a leash. Pardon yourself while you burst into flames, because I guess this is growing up.
Follow Caesar on Twitter for an insightful outlook on life and their endless quest of bugging Cone.
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