At some point in 1984, a year of great significance to Orwellians and Van Halen fans, I saw the video for Suicidal Tendencies’ “Institutionalized.” It changed my life.
Before that video blasted out of the cathode rays of our boxy Zenith, I loved my parents. After Mike Muir’s growling sermon, I understood for the first time that my parents were my enemies and didn’t understand my badass 10-year-old lifestyle.
I decided then and there that more people needed to hear about how my parents didn’t understand my problems. Without the Internet, I turned to vocalizing my concerns with a like-minded group of young metal-head punks. As a smart kid and jock, I didn’t quite fit in with this crowd, but music held us together (until high school anyway).
I did my best to ensure that all adults recognized that I was now under the command of Satan himself. I proudly displayed my Venom and Slayer and Possessed records, visceral visual reminders to my parents that my straight A’s were directly attributable to a deal I made with El Diablo. How’d I get to be an all-star shortstop? I cranked up the Black Flag, prayed to Lucifer and Bucky Dent, and boom…sweet youthful success.
I didn’t know much at age 10 (clearly), but I did know that I wasn’t a poser. Being a poser was the worst. When I ran around screaming “Death to posers!” I meant it, even if I didn’t fully understand the relativity of poserdom. We’re all posers to someone.
My (thus far) inexpensive midlife crisis mostly involves a return to vinyl and the blistering licks from the soundtrack of my youth. My fiancé hates this “phase,” which is awesome. I’m claiming that my shaved head is sick retro punk, even though my hair’s just never growing back. I’m getting old.
These days, I just want my parents to live a little longer. I want airplanes to take me to Ohio more often and more conveniently, so I might spend more precious days by their side, buying them groceries and biding time valiantly against the inevitable.
We might even enjoy a Pepsi together the next time I visit. All I want is that Pepsi, just one Pepsi…