I was thinking recently about my past. Specifically I was thinking about my teenage years which is usually a bad sign. People work pretty hard to forget their teenage years because they are horrible. Well, I actually can’t speak for everyone. My teenage years were pretty awful. They were the years where my introversion hurt me the most just as my creativity was revving up into overdrive. Those two things were intensified by my emotions and I started to believe everybody was personally rejecting me at every turn. Of course there were people actually trying to hurt me and others but looking back it’s harder to tell which is which.
All of that aside, let me get a little more specific. I was thinking about all of the weird things I did as an artsy teenager that make no sense now. I had a reason back then but now they seem a little silly. All of these things were just begging for a reaction or questions on what they meant. Keep in mind that I have never really talked about this before but maybe I can exorcise a little embarrassment by exploring a few interesting moments.
The Altar of Bad Luck
I spent a lot of my time in my teenage years hanging around the theater. I made the leap from high school theater to the charm and excitement of community theater. I fell headlong into the world of the theater and accepted and absorbed all of the myths and ritual pretty much immediately. This was the time period that I believed in ghosts and wholeheartedly feared the supernatural. One of the theater traditions I was fascinated by was the tradition of wishing somebody to “Break a Leg!” instead of “Good Luck!”. Wishing somebody bad luck mysteriously had the opposite effect within the walls of a theater. So, I internalized that and probably took it in a weird direction. Around that time South Park had become a thing. Kenny McCormick was a character who had the bad luck of being killed in every episode. I sought to harness this bad luck by putting a little doll of him on top of my sound equipment. Not only that, but I surrounded Kenny with tails up pennies. I wanted concentrated bad luck to harvest and turn into good luck. Nobody ever asked me about it.
The Black Coat
I am not even sure where I got the idea for this one. During and before my teen years there was a lot of fiction that came out that featured characters in a long black coat or cloak. Some of them were good guys but a lot of them were bad guys. Of course, it was the late nineties so bad guys were cool and tough and strong. As a geek these were the things I wanted to be but I was not. Well, you could debate that I was “cool” because I did my own thing but I wasn’t popular. Still, when given the choice of what coat to buy, I chose the black coat that went nearly to my knees. It wasn’t canvas or some other cool fabric and was in fact just a thin winter coat made mostly of synthetic materials.
Over time I realized that long coats had a ton of pockets and my coat regularly weighed a ton because I packed it full of books, tools, snacks and drinks. Unfortunately, long black coats started to get a bad rap after the Columbine tragedy and many people stopped wearing them. I refused to let my habit get taken away from me and I wore mine well into college. I heard later that several people incorrectly feared me because of the Columbine connection and my introverted nature. Of course, I deeply regret that and I was really embarrassed when I found out.
The Earth Emblem
I initially made fun of anime when I found about it in my freshman year of high school. A friend of mine had discovered it through trips back to his ancestral Korea and I enjoyed making fun of it a little bit. Then Funimation teamed up with Cartoon Network to introduce people to Dragonball Z and I actually liked something I had previously made fun of. Several anime shows were introduced on the network because the ratings must have been great. I loved the dubbed versions they showed because they made the material more accessible to an American like me. Finally, they released Sailor Moon on Cartoon Network and I didn’t know what to think.
At first glance it was so girly but I watched it and I fell in love with the characters, plot and animation. As a life long fan of superheroes, I loved the concept of magical girls and I wanted to know all about Serena and the Sailor Scouts. I taped the show on VHS to watch alone later and I really loved it. I redesigned and modernized the show several times in probably my first attempts at fanfiction. I loved that all the scouts had devices that helped them transform and use their powers. However, the only male hero Tuxedo Mask didn’t seem to have a device. In my first of two cosplay attempts to date I created a little Earth symbol over a clip-on safety light and carried around for a long time before it went through the laundry.