Monday, August 9, 2010

A Musical Moment

I was welcomed into a crowded bar last weekend by The Thong Song. I couldn’t help but smile as it thumped from the speakers and I was instantly transported back in time to a crowded middle school gym. A place where awkward 13- year-old girls, wearing Abercrombie t-shirts, danced in little clusters to a song about an undergarment their mother’s probably didn’t allow them to wear. A place where small, underdeveloped 13- year- old boys hovered along the wall pretending they were too cool to dance. Ahhh, how I don’t miss middle school or The Thong Song for that matter. I was hoping after 2000 I would never have to hear it again but there I was 10 years later being subjected to the corniness all over again. It’s just a slivers of pop culture, like stirrup leggings, that no matter how much you might despise, you cannot escape. Looking around the bar it struck me just how little had changed since middle school dances. Sure clothes might have changed and the beverages, of course were different (or at least legally being consumed), but the awkwardness was still there. A group of girls, dressed in slightly different versions of the same outfit, were dancing in a circle while a few guys hung around the edge, holding their drinks and trying to look cool.
I always thought, if I tried, I could develop a timeline of my life in music. Things like my 8th grade crush on the kid that sat next to me in math class would be marked with something like the band Slipknot. He liked them so I, naturally, thought I would like them too. As it turns out I’m not much for Slipknot but the band still reminds me of that kid (and of math, adding to my dislike for the band no doubt),solidifying it as a tiny dot in the timeline of my musical nostalgia.
I’d like to think I’ve come a long way from Abercrombie t-shirts and liking bands to impress boys. This past week I was handed a slew of new adult responsibilities, including buying a new car and moving into a new apartment. It made me wonder if in 10 years a song will come on and remind me of now. If Florence and the Machine is destined to always remind me of my new apartment because I was listening to her album on repeat while I was packing. If Britney Spears “Baby One More Time” will always remind me of my old car since it was, cruelly, playing on the radio as I was being whipped in the face with rain, driving through a hurricane, with a window that refused to roll up. It’s funny how things get marred inside your memories and you don’t realize it until one thing triggers the other and they both bubble up into your consciousness. Suddenly things that you haven’t remembered in years become fresh in your mind, like they’re somehow happening again and you can almost feel that awkward middle school anxiety sweeping over you and you think maybe not much has really changed. It’s amazing that such a small unexpected thing can trigger such a powerful reaction and then you think to yourself…The Thong Song? Really?