How young are you?Paul Westerberg
How old am I?
Let’s count the rings around my eyes
How smart are you?
How dumb am I?
Don’t count on any of my advice
The first three lines resonate with me; they have more than ever since about 2010. The second three give you an idea about who I am.
Pre-grunge. We wore flannels, layered and torn clothes because, well, we were part of the Reagan poor. Seattle co-opted our “fashion sense” in the 90s. In Minnesota you wore layers and flannel because it might be 30°F in the morning and then 70°F by midafternoon. It wasn’t fashion, it was being sensible. And, before the second-hand stores got popular because the fashion world decided grunge was cool instead of Coke t-shirts and Guess Jeans, you could buy clothes for pennies on weight, as long as you weren’t too particular about holes, stains, rips, and missing buttons.
‘Mats fans were as like to punch you as anything if you said they were punks. “Punk” was a label for someone who cared what you thought. Most of us didn’t care. For some, it was still considered an insult from the 60/70s (the ones who might punch you).
I laughed really hard the day someone walked up to me and asked what it was like being a punk-rocker. “What makes you think I’m a punk-rocker?” I asked. He pointed to my rats-nest black hair, eyeliner and Victorian ruffle shirt. “That,” he said as if it was proof itself, though he looked a little unnerved by my laughter. I tussled his hair, though he was probably older than me. “I’m no punk, kiddo. I just dress funny because I like how it looks.” And then I walked the fuck away to smoke in peace.
Which goes a long ways towards explaining why I didn’t cling to the “goth”, “darksider”, “batcave”, or “spook” labels applied to me until much later when it became easier to say “I was goth” than to explain that I didn’t call myself that at the time because I didn’t see myself as taking it serious enough to take that label. Hell, I was blond for the first two years of emulating Bob Smith and Simon Gallup. And I looked more hippy than goth at the end (inspired more by Wayne Hussey and Simon Hinkler). I was only your “classic goth” for about a year, though the makeup and the long hair trended longer. I still wear mostly black, except when I’m not allowed to.
Labels are for chumps.