Ryan and the Technicolor Wardrobe
Short Stories and Essays

I remember bits and pieces of my last day of elementary school.  Unlike most kids’ last day of elementary school, mine was fairly melancholy since I was moving across the country in the middle of the school year opposed to graduating (or whatever the equivalent to graduating elementary school is).  All I really remember is saying goodbye to teachers and classmates I would never see or hear from again.  I know that one of my teachers wrote my new address on the chalkboard for my classmates to write down if anyone wanted to stay in contact with me.  While I was able to stay in contact with a couple of my friends from elementary school for a few months, I quickly found out that 6th graders don’t make for the most reliable of pen pals.  I had much better luck staying in touch with my best friend, Bruce, since his mom and my mom were also best friends, so we were afforded some time on the phone a couple of times a year or so when our moms would call each other.   About a year later, we were introduced to e-mail, which allowed us to talk more frequently.  Still, communication was sporadic since we couldn’t send or receive e-mails without tying up the phone lines.  It pained me that I didn’t have access to e-mail when I left elementary school to keep in touch with my friends.  I’ve always felt like technology came in to my life a step too late to help me keep in touch with people in different stages of life.

High school is an awkward time for most and it was no different for me.  I was particularly dorky and insecure so the many different aliases I created for myself when Instant Messaging probably comes as no surprise.  They are clearly a symbol of a younger me trying to figure myself out.  I wasn’t the only one that had strange online identity issues.  I had a classmate in high school that was so infatuated with a girl that he created an screen name that copied hers with an added “crazy about” before the screen name.  I found it strange then, and I think it would be considered as a form of harassment now, but he didn’t mean any harm and this was fairly new territory for all of us.  Our hi-jinks were simple and innocent.  While my friends might have created accounts to pretend they were other people, it was never to catfish anyone or to cause any real duress.  With this new technology and improved ways to connect to the internet, I figured that I would much better at keeping touch with people.

Not that I had a huge amount of friends in high school, but the attrition rate of losing touch with friends was still pretty high.  Even though I had moved only 70 miles north of where I went to high school, I lost myself in a new place with new people, leaving a lot of friendships behind.  I would end up getting a cell phone in the middle of my freshmen year, but that mostly helped me keep in touch with my people that I met on campus.  Texting wasn’t a standard option for most people and I only had a few phone numbers from people back in high school.  I would lose numbers every time I upgraded my phone, or my phone would make me delete numbers to add new ones, so I was losing touch with people in college year after year.

Facebook was introduced  to my college the year after I graduated and when it was finally introduced to the general public, I was in a serious relationship with a girl who despised social media.  She was a high school teacher and at inner city school, so a lot of her ire at social media was a product of her students going on MySpace or Facebook instead doing their homework.  At the time I had very little interest in social media, and even less interest in infuriating the girl I was dating, so I stayed away and lived life off the grid.  Once the relationship ended, I didn’t immediately start signing up for every single social media site out there, I actually stayed off the grid for another couple of years.  It wasn’t until I wanted to start a blog and perform that I finally took the plunge.

It was a little weird to join a site where most people I knew had been on it for years.  Before I could start hunting down friends, many of them had already found me.  It was a nice feeling that old friends and acquaintances were adding me within minutes of joining a site, but it was a little unsettling as well not exactly knowing how Facebook worked.  I had joined a good 5 years after most people had joined and most of the people that had found me were people I had lost contacted with.  What I found funny, is that most of these people who added me immediately, haven’t interacted with me at all since.  It reminds me of people signing a yearbook, where people you barely know are really excited to sign your yearbook, and then you don’t seem them again until the following year so they can sign your new yearbook.  It’s just a way to feel important or look impressive.

I’ve realized that I can’t handle juggling too many interactions and friendships at one time, and I would hate spending more than a handful of minutes a day replying to people.  It’s caused stress in some friendships, and there have even been some bridges burned.  It’s helped me realize that even if I had all this technology from the beginning, there’s a good chance that I would have kept in touch with roughly the same amount of people even if I was able to add everyone from my elementary school and beyond on Facebook.  It’s not that I don’t want to keep in contact with more people, it’s just a reality of growing older and having time commitments such as a full time job. As much as technology has changed, the amount of time in the day hasn’t, and I can only allocate so much for the people that are important in my life.  Until we have technology to slow down life, it’s just a reality that I’ll have to accept.

A lot of my friends are perplexed about the fact that I’m a fan of R. Kelly.  I assume this is, in part, because I’m Asian (and those confused friends are Asian or Caucasian), but mostly because of his very public and disturbing indiscretions.  While I definitely don’t condone what has come out about his private life, I still enjoy his music, even if his hit to miss ratio isn’t what it used to be.  Besides, even after after his scandalous private life became public, he was able to bounce back into the spotlight, with the focus back on his musical talent.  A petition to the US Government to change the national anthem from “The Star Spangled Banner” to his “Igntion (Remix)” was created, comedian, Aziz Ansari, is known for recounting his various R. Kelly experiences at his stand up shows, and there have been many organized Trapped in the Closet related viewing parties.  Even though his star was back on the rise, when I decided to finally see the man in concert, it was basically on a lark.

About 5 years ago, when I met my friend Beverly, one of the things we bonded over was karaoke, and we’ve been on a quest to find “Ignition (Remix)” at a karaoke studio.  We’ve found it at karaoke bars but we’d like to be able to sing it within the comfort of a private room with friends instead of in a room of tipsy strangers.  We haven’t found a place yet, but our quest has taken us to many different parts of Southern California, and karaoke still remains one of our favorite “go to” activities.  A love of “Ignition (Remix)” has also bonded Beverly and my friend, Jessica, so when R. Kelly announced a tour, Beverly immediately decided that the three of us needed to go.

Unfortunately, by the time we found out there was a show, the show was sold out.  In what Beverly describes as an act of divine intervention, a second show was added a few days after our initial disappointment.  I’m not exaggerating Beverly’s excitement about this added show, in fact, her exact text to me was “It’s a sign from Jesus that we must GO”.  I wasn’t going to argue with that.  I texted Jessica if she wanted to go to the show, and there we were, back on course to see the man known as R.  We were going to get the full R. Kelly experience, but none of us knew what that meant until it was too late.

We all had an idea of what was going to happen at the show, whether it be from checking out various message boards on the net, or going through Aziz’s live tweets from the show the night before, but somehow, we found ourselves constantly surprised.  Perhaps, this had to do with the fact that we procured and demolished a bottle of 100 proof rum and a bottle of Coke at the beginning of the night so we could pay tribute to the song that we all love so much.  I thought we were going to drink in the parking lot but Jessica decided to quietly open the bottle of rum and drink from it in the back of the car while Beverly and I chatted.  As we got closer to the venue, we started to mix the rum and Coke into the Coke bottle so we could drink and walk to the venue, incognito.

So, by the time that we got to the venue, we were all tipsy.  We walked in to the Nokia Theater, and everything looked as it would on any other night, upon first inspection.  That was until Beverly and Jessica walked into the bathroom and overheard some girls talking about how they were glad “their mans [weren’t] here.”  Soon after, we found the R. Kelly Chicken Wings table where I promptly dropped $7 for some wings when I wasn’t even particularly hungry.  Beverly proceeded by buy a t-shirt that had an enlarged black and white photo of R. Kelly’s face on the front and we proceeded to go find our seats.

On our way to the seats, I realized that our casual dress attire wasn’t the norm for this show.  Not that people were decked out in formal wear, but they were definitely dressed differently.  To put it as succinctly as possible, that was the most leopard print clothing per square foot I had seen in my life.  Once we found our seats, I came up with idea of taking pictures with the R. Kelly t-shirt while Beverly went to the bathroom.  I wasn’t able to keep myself from bursting out in laughter while holding up the shirt, so I decided to get more alcohol, and this is where I found the cart that sold rum lemonade out of a keg.  Since this was something else that was unique to this show, I had to buy one, even though my tipsy self could even tell it was probably not of the highest quality.  I brought it back to our seats, we drank some more, and finally the show started. This was The Single Ladies Tour, and you could even buy tickets in a “single ladies” section but we had regular seats because Beverly decided to spare me whatever embarrassment I would receiving being a single man sitting in a “single ladies” section.

I couldn’t tell you what was special about the “single ladies” section but I do know that R. Kelly had two bartenders on stage making drinks for girls from the pit.  Drunk Beverly was pining to be in the “single ladies section” and Drunk Jessica was someone that I hadn’t seen in about 5 and a half years.  Drunk Jessica doesn’t show up very often for a reason.

After a highly entertaining and over the top set (Aziz does not exaggerate, Beverly points out), we headed out the doors back to our lives, or so I thought.  Jessica and Beverly had gotten ahead of me and I ended up losing them.  Beverly tells me that Jessica ended up accidentally knocking over a trash can and yelled “Lets go drink some more!” before Beverly lost sight of her.  I was able to easily track down Beverly through text messages.  Jessica, on the other hand, wasn’t responding to texts or phone calls right away.  We were obviously concerned that our friend was running around the streets of Downtown Los Angeles drunk and alone.  Finally, Jessica called me and told me that she was waiting for us at the car… but she wasn’t.

It took Beverly and I a while to find the car, and when we finally did, Jessica was nowhere to be found.  I called her again and informed her that she might in fact be standing next to a totally random car in a totally random parking lot.  This was completely terrifying to Beverly and me.  Jessica could be anywhere.  After telling her that we were in different lots, Jessica handed her phone to the parking lot attendent who somehow was able to guide us to Jessica even though I think we were all sort of lost.  Jessica finally got in the car and we were finally able to head back to Orange County, not before Jessica told us that she was sitting in the parking attendent’s chair and when he told her that she couldn’t sit there, she told him that she was Mexican.  Then she told us that she was going to sleep in the car, and proceeded to throw up in the car somewhere between Los Angeles and Orange County.

While I couldn’t have predicted any of these events before the show, they all sort of made sense.  We went to go see an artist who’s notorious for excess and self-indulgence and we decided to mimic those impulses.  We ate too much, we drank too much, and then all hell broke loose.  It was a fitting end to a memorable night.  We all just wish Jessica was able to hold her liquor for just a little longer.

 

As much as it’s documented that I’ve always hated going to mall with my mom, I always enjoyed going to the grocery store with her.  There are many reasons for this: being able to get a sneak peak on what my mom was going to make for dinner for the upcoming week, getting candy and toys from the coin slotted vending machines, and  I also remember killing a lot of time by talking to the guy who worked in the back, behind the milk section of the store.  He would push the cartons forward and refill the empty spaces (Does this job still exist?).  I would never see what he looked like, I never asked him for his name, but I would ask him questions about his job, sports, and what college he went to.  I wasn’t trying to insult the guy by asking him about college.  As a young kid, I assumed everyone went to college. (or jail was the alternative, I guess).  Talking to that guy, along with being able to press the pedal that moved the conveyor belt in the checkout lane gave me plenty to do on our trips to the market, and even as an adult, I’ve still managed to find it entertaining, even though Southern California grocery stores have taken away the ability for customers to control the conveyor belt.

As an adult, I’ve found that the most entertaining thing to do at a grocery store is to see what the people ahead of you in line are buying.  In a strange way, their shopping carts give you a small window into their lives.  Perhaps, they’re just buying food for just their upcoming meal, perhaps they’re buying their groceries for their week, or maybe they’re just buying a case of beer for a party they’re going to, but it’s uncanny how much information the contents of a person’s cart can give you.  I could come up with more than a handful of categories for my fellow shopping brethren – the single bachelor and his microwave dinners, the bitter divorcee and her cheap wine, the college student and their top ramen, and so on.  The aforementioned shoppers tend to carry an air of melancholy since this is their everyday lifestyle.  It may not necessarily be permanent, but for the time being, this is how they live their lives.  As I look back, I can say that I’ve been no different.

In college, my roommates and I lived down the street from a grocery store.  We often did our grocery shopping during the twilight hours.  Whether we did this to avoid crowds, or whether we shopped late at night just because that’s what college kids did, I can’t be for certain (I’m pretty certain that we were pillaging candy from the bulk candy containers).  We were definitely stereotypically poor college students.  During our twilight grocery excursions, we would be regularly seen with a bottle of olive oil, a bottle of balsamic vinegar, and a baguette of french bread.  While these three items might not scream “college students”, the fact that we would buy these items in the middle of the night clearly does.  There were no proteins, no fruits and vegetables, just bread and “sauce” for dipping.  This was definitely a reflection of who I was then: poor and I ate to live opposed to living to eat.

I’m obviously in a different stage of my life now, and my grocery cart reflects that.  While I still might pick up the occasional baguette of bread, my cart is now balanced with proteins (steak, chicken, pork, fish), vegetables, and fruits.  I learned how to cook after college so I found that a little bit of money can go a long way if you are okay with preparing meals by yourself.  You would be able to easily discern that if you had a snapshot of my college cart and my present cart side by side.  I would probably be a little embarrassed by hypothetical snapshots and I would probably implore you “not to judge me”, but you would anyways, and you should do so.  I still judge the people ahead of me in line to pass the time, and I gain a lot of amusement from it.  So to the couple who bought store made fried chicken, two packs of Klondike Bars, a handle of the cheapest grocery store brand Vodka, and a pack of Marlboro Reds, I thank you (I also can tell what you guys were up to that night… gross).  In a super voyeuristic and twisted way, you’ve brought the youthful joy of hanging out at the grocery store back to me, whether you knew it or not.

 

It has been well documented in my writings that Chris and I have very similar tastes in music, film, and humor.  It’s something that we’ve both acknowledged from the beginning of our friendship and over the past 11 years, if our tastes have evolved, they’ve continued to evolve down those shared paths.  So when Rob Pope of The Get Up Kids (broken up at the time) joined Spoon a few years ago, I was excited, and I knew that Chris would be excited, while my girlfriend at the time couldn’t have cared less.  I remember telling Chris the news and he was shocked.  He couldn’t believe it and I knew that he wouldn’t be able to believe it.  After finally accepting the news, he said “Wow.  Going from The Get Up Kids to Spoon.  Good career move.”  I couldn’t agree more.

It’s pretty amazing that from the start, I’ve been able to predict Chris’ reactions.  Even during a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors, I remember guessing his move.  I recalled a Simpsons episode where Lisa and Bart were playing Rock-Paper-Scissors, and Lisa’s voice in her head said “Poor predictable Bart, always picks rock.”  I substituted “Bart” for “Chris”, put down paper, and surely enough, Chris had picked rock.  “Good old rock, nothing beats rock.” was Bart’s thought, and it was probably Chris’ as well.  I told him about that afterwards and he wasn’t mad at me at all.  He actually had a good laugh about it.  He couldn’t accuse me of cheating, I just knew better.

I’m not saying that we have a crazy telepathic connection or anything like that.  We’re just really similar and that’s why I enjoy his friendship so much.  I don’t have to cater to his interests, our interests are pretty much the same.  The bands we like, the films we love, the TV shows we watch – all pretty similar.  I don’t have to worry about making a joke that he won’t get.  The only problem with this is that there are often times where Chris and I are the only two people in a room that are in on a joke or a reference.  Sometimes it’s fine when it’s inside joke, but sometimes it’s awkward when it’s something really dark that we think is hilarious while the rest of the movie theater is shocked and horrified.

This happened when we went to the No Country for Old Men at the local movie theater in Irvine.  It was in the middle of award’s season and Chris and I were really excited to see the latest offering from our favorite movie directors, The Coen Brothers.  Since we were devoted fans of the Coens, we were used to seeing guys getting disposed of in wood chippers and a guy named Weezy Joe putting a gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger when he mistakenly thinks it’s his inhaler.  So when Josh Brolin is getting chased by a dog and he has to shoot it with a sawed off shotgun, Chris and I erupted with laughter.  Unfortunately we were the only two people in the theater that thought it was funny.  It’s not because Chris and I hate animals (I especially love dogs), we understood this as a “release point” for all the tension that had been building prior to this scene.  It’s a staple of their filmmaking.  Build up the tension, then release the tension with something really uncomfortable and darkly comical.  Rinse and repeat.

We’ve tried to explain this scene throughout the years to many people and usually we get horrified looks.  We’ll giggle about it and Chris will say “Come on!  He shot the dog!”, like it’s somehow supposed to make people understand our point of view.  Perhaps one day, people will revere us for the film aficionados that we are and we can teach a class on release points in modern film.  I’m not holding my breath though.  Chris is far from the perfect friend, and I’m sure many people could submit a resume on why they think they should be considered a better friend to me than him.  I’m sure their points would be valid, their cases solid.  Unfortunately for them, they probably can’t geek out about The Get Up Kids and the comedy of shooting dogs, and for some reason that gets weighted really heavily on my friend grading rubric.  I’m not saying that all my best friends should be exactly like me, but it’s always nice to know that there’s someone out there that’s laughing at the same terrible thing as you.

 

Back in college, my friends and I became fascinated with Claim Jumper’s chocolate chip calzone, which is coincidentally probably the fattiest dessert known to man.  It is exactly how it sounds: it’s like a pizza calzone, but instead of being filled with sauce and meat, it’s filled with white chocolate and milk chocolate chips, and it’s served a la mode, and for some unknown reason, they top it off with whipped cream.  It’s also on par with the typical proportions at Claim Jumper, so it can feed 3-4 people pretty easily even though it says “for 2”.  When my friend Tommy had the calzone for the first time, he didn’t describe the experience as “orgasmic”, but like “someone had an orgasm in my mouth”.  Luckily, Tommy didn’t have any aspirations to become a food critic because his words that night would’ve definitely come back to haunt his career.

Tommy wasn’t the best with words, but he had a keen way of visualizing his satisfaction with food in a way that no food blog or Yelp! Quick Tip could put in the most eloquent of words.  Tommy would just sit back in his chair, grin like a moron, and tap his fingers against his stomach.  He wouldn’t say much, but you could tell he was pleased.  It was a truly endearing scene and if you were the chef, you would be truly honored that your meal had moved him so.

I haven’t seen Tommy much since college, and this was all before the Yelp!/Twitter pics/ Food Truck craze, which I admit, I’m probably one of the worst offenders of, especially when I’m on vacation.  For me, vacation is all about the food I’m going to eat, and thanks to Man Vs Food, No Reservations and the around the clock programming of The Food Network, I’ve been able to find exciting new things about places I’ve been to previously, like how the best ice cream in country is in St. Paul, Minnesota (Izzy’s! -> with the malt ball in the waffle cone).  It’ll occasionally drive someone mad, like when I visit my sister in New York, but I live to eat, I don’t eat to live.

Sharing my food experiences through pictures on the net/twitter probably annoys a lot of people and I understand their disdain, but it’s started a lot of dialogue, often with people I’ve kind of lost touch with.  It also helped Allison and Charis track my vacation to Chicago last year through their dad’s Twitter accounts.  “It looks like you ate a lot of good food in Chicago, Uncle Ryan!”  Hopefully they just glazed over the tweet about sitting next to a transvestite on the bus on the way to Wrigley Field, but I digress.  I’ll be honest, often the food I eat is the most exciting part of my life.  If I had more going on, I’m sure I’d be tweeting about that.

Often, I wonder how restaurants survived before the food shows, review sites, and smart phones.  I’m glad technology has made things easier for me to find what I’m looking for, so this is no way a complaint that technology has taken the excitement of trying somewhere new.  I just feel bad for new start up restaurants.  It feels like they’re under the gun, and there’s no room for error when they open up to make things right.  It also seems that everyone is trying to create some sort of edge these days so there’s a lot of made up terminology being made to try to stand out.  It reminds me a lot of independent music now.  A lot of phrases like “hyper-literate” and “post-punk afro pop” are being used to describe new bands and instead of enticing me to listen to them, I almost shy away since I don’t know what to make of these newly branded terms.  I’m all for trying new things, so eventually I give in, but all this information that gets thrown at me these days is sometimes tiresome.  While I love having all the technology at my disposal, sometimes I wish for a simpler time, where instead of looking for fancy prose, I’d just watch Tommy lean back in his chair and tap his belly to know that we just had a great meal.

The previous time I was in New York, I was visiting Bruce for his birthday.  I was also detoxing from a relationship, picking up the pieces of my life scattered all over the Northern and Southern California.  My life had changed a lot since the breakup: I found a new job, a new group of friends, and I was looking for a way to reclaim the identity that was more or less being compromised while trying to make someone happy that I wasn’t designed to make happy.  I wasn’t necessarily looking to find that identity in New York, but more or less it found me.

I wasn’t planning ont doing a whole lot of shopping in New York but Bruce really wanted to take me out to some shops that he thought I’d really like.  So we made our way to SoHo and we made our way into the Kid Robot and Bathing Ape stores, and I promptly dropped a large amount of cash on a t-shirt and a hoodie.  All the colors and the designs just jumped out at me and I was immediately addicted.  Even though I wasn’t known for having a lot of nice clothes at the time, I decided right than and there that I was going to start caring more about how I looked.  Not in an attempt to be vain, but in an attempt to showcase my sense of style.

I definitely feel like this move was spurred by the lack of self I was feeling after the breakup.  If I was in a better situation in my life, I probably wouldn’t have needed the void filled by something so flashy and expensive, but I don’t regret this part of my journey at all.  Besides, if I had never fallen in love with these threads, there would never be a Technicolor Wardrobe.  Of course, now that I’m in a better place and now that priorities have shifted, I’m at sort of a crossroads whether I want to sacrifice investing in my fashion sense for other pursuits in life.  Perhaps it’s time to stop wearing “children’s clothes” (friendly jab), and grow up with more practical clothing.

This decision has been aided by the close of the Bathing Ape store in Los Angeles.  I no longer have a store in a semi-convenient area and buying clothes through their website is limited and pricey.  This is why I needed to visit the Bathing Ape New York store on my most recent visit.  I needed one last look at the clothing line that had helped me rediscover my swagger and perhaps buy my last article of clothing from there.  I wanted to say “goodbye”, perhaps not forever, but at least for the time being.

I had only brought a few shirts for my trip, knowing that Bruce would take me shopping and I would probably buy shirts for the rest of my trip.  We hit up a couple of stores before making our inevitable and bittersweet stop at Bathing Ape.  I was wearing my Bathing Ape Kid Cudi t-shirt because it’s 1) one of my favorite t-shirts and 2) the most recent Bathing Ape t-shirt that I had purchased and I wanted to show it off to Bruce.  We walked in to the store, and before I could even start checking out the clothing selection, a man walked by me and told me that he really liked my shirt.  I told him “thanks”, and as he walked past me, a bunch of high school kids in the store started to get really excited.  I looked back at the man and realized that the man who had commented on my shirt was Kid Cudi himself.  I was wearing my Bathing Ape Kid Cudi shirt while standing in the Bathing Ape store with Kid Cudi.  It was a surreal experience to say the least.

As the workers at the store ushered everyone out, for some reason, Bruce and I were allowed to stay.  I looked around and eventually Bruce and I were able to take some photos with Kid Cudi, who was really nice to us.  I finally picked out a t-shirt for myself and a couple of small things for Allison and Charis for their “thank you” gifts for the upcoming show and headed out.  We went to a few stores after that, both of us dumbfounded by what had just happened.  We had no prior knowledge of Kid Cudi’s whereabouts that day and I didn’t wear that shirt with any expectation that I was going to meet him that day.  Everything had just lined up perfectly and we were obviously in high spirits because of it.

Whether or not this is the end of the Bathing Ape era for me, it has obviously ended on a high note.  I might look back on some of my shirts and wonder why I even liked some of them or I might wonder how I allowed myself to spend what I spent on them, but I will never regret this era in my life.  This was meant to happen and if it doesn’t have a major positive effect on my life, I feel that it at least help set up whatever that next stage is.  I won’t go as far as to say that meeting and shopping with Kid Cudi changed my life, but I do think that it did show me that I’m doing at least something right.

When I worked at certain retail store, I had this co-worker who drove a pick up truck, listened to metal, and never smiled.  He mainly worked in the back of the store and I had no problem with him, because he was a pretty nice and quite guy and also frankly, because I quit around the same time that he was getting hired.  Since I didn’t know him very well, I was surprised to find out later that he had started to garner a strange reputation at work.  Story has it, that during his 15 minute breaks, he would head over to the break room computer and spend the entire 15 minute break fixated at pictures on cuteoverload.com, a website that is devoted to adorable pictures of animals including, but not exclusive to, kittens.  Maybe since I never had the pleasure of getting to know the guy, I found this to be peculiar behavior, but perhaps he was just a cliché, ice cold exterior – total teddy bear interior type of guy.  If cute kittens make him happy, than who I am to judge?

I don’t have any hard statistics but I’m guessing that this guy is the exception opposed to the rule when it comes to cuteoverload’s demographics.  I’m pretty sure the target demographic for the website is my friend Susan, a girl who will occasionally blurt out phrases like  “that panda is so cuuuuuuute!” I introduced Susan to this website one day and she immediately thought it was the best thing ever.  While I typically don’t find myself in front of a computer staring at puppies for hours on end, I can see the appeal for others and how it can be considered therapeutic and uplifting.  I on the other hand derive pleasure over unaware humiliation.  I wouldn’t say that I’m completely mean spirited, but I admit that I like to laugh at people who look silly (or in harsher words, “like crap”), when it’s not out of irony.  Whether it be the girl at the farmer’s market with the fanny pack and Punky Brewster inspired wardrobe or those girls that have just walked out of the club taking pictures of themselves while more closely resembling the appearance of clowns than 20-something year old attractive girls, it’s all giggles to me.  Actually, it’s the latter case that has given me a golden idea for a brand new website: makeupoverload.com

Makeupoverload.com would be a site much like cuteoverload, where the content would be based on what people upload.  It could be of friends, family, (for legal reasons, I guess I shouldn’t encourage this) strangers  or even yourself if you’re willing to admit that you had a phase where you caked yourself out in far too much face paint.  The site could serve as a giant PSA telling women across the globe that “while makeup can make you look better, it can also make you look a lot worse.” or at the very least it could tell you “your friends think you look stupid.”, which is probably just as important.  I see girls walking down the streets of downtown Fullerton taking pictures of themselves all the time, so there’s definitely not a lack of photos being taken, we’d just need to entice people to upload them to our site.

Of course, now this is where we have to have some sort of flimsy business model.  How do we entice people to upload pictures?  How do we pay for the server space once this site gets going?  The most obvious answer is to sell ad space.  What kind of companies would want ad space on our website?  Ironically, makeup companies probably would.  This probably doesn’t sound like it makes any sense at first, but do you think any of these girls in these pictures, even if they found out that they were on the site, would think that “no more makeup” is the answer to their humiliation?  Of course not, they would probably think that better and more expensive makeup would be the cure to their problems, and perhaps we could get sponsored by a makeup company and give the most trashy looking picture of the week/month some sort of makeup kit as a prize to entice people to submit more pictures to our website.  While this could be construed as a form of ouroboros, what form of capitalism isn’t?

This site is still in the dream stage and is far from becoming a reality, but I hope that in due time, I will be able to see my dream come to fruition.  While Susan and my old work acquaintance can lose themselves in the bliss that is kitten wearing a beanie with a propellor on top, us bitter old kooks could use a site like mine.  Sure we have peopleofwalmart.com and lamebook.com, but I believe there is room for makeupoverload.com too.

Some time ago, I wrote a story about my mother and her shopping habits and I promised that I would run an experiment to see if I could curb those habits.  I came up with an experiment to see if I’ll ever be able to put up with my mom at the mall.  I announced this experiment in public, in front of about 100 people, including my parents.  Because the general busy-ness of life, I’ve yet to complete the entire experiment but I was able to get some research done.   I’ve recently taken my mom to South Coast Plaza, and my findings from this trip are quite interesting.

I was with both of my parents when we went to Macys, and my mom decided that she wanted to look for a new hat.  As she looked through some hats, I would bring her the most ridiculous hat I could fine.  She would put it on, take a look in the mirror, and then take it off.  This routine continued for a few more hats until she realized that I was intentionally bringing her gross looking hats.  She wasn’t upset at me, she thought it was pretty funny, but my dad wasn’t amused at all by it.  He told us to hurry up and leave (my dad is not a fan of the mall, especially when my mom is there – he once told me to marry a girl who’s not as short as my mom so it’ll be easier for me to pick her out of a crowd at a mall). I wasn’t able to derive much from this visit to the mall as far as finding away to keep my mom in check but I found something out about myself.  I am the ultimate enabler.

While my mom didn’t buy a hat that day, I was very much encouraging her to try on as many hats as possible.  If it wasn’t for my dad’s intervention, we could’ve wasted a lot of time in the hat department. (Which in a way, would be a success since I wouldn’t have to wonder where my mom disappeared to.) I’ve realized that over the past couple of years, I’ve been present when my friend’s have made some very expensive purchases, purchases that are out of the ordinary for them.  If it had happened once, I would’ve  chalked it up to coincidence, but now I feel I must look to see if there’s something about me that makes people comfortable about spending large amounts of money.

I do have a background in retail sales, but I never was known to be a “used car salesman”; someone that tries to weasel as much money out of his/her customers, so I’m not sure how much that has to do with anything.  I’ve also wondered if some of my past purchases have sparked the interest for my friends to make purchases.  That would make sense for my friends who’ve recently splurged on music equipment.  I’ve bought a lot of pedals and a couple of guitars the last couple of years so maybe it’s inspired them to go and get their own stuff.  Also, it’s not out of the question that I had subconscious ulterior motives.  When my friends buy new gear, that means there’s a chance that I might get to borrow said new gear.  Of course that theory doesn’t seem to work for every case.

Recently my friend bought a new purse.  It was a name brand purse and it’s very nice, if I may say so myself.  This was a big purchase for my friend and they admitted that if they didn’t buy it that day, that they would probably convince themselves not to buy it at all.  They had recently gone through some annoying situations over the past couple of weeks and felt like they wanted to get themselves a present for having to put up with that nonsense.  The main reason I came alone, was not to convince her or dissuade her, but to grab dinner afterwards.  Obviously, I’m not looking to borrow my friend’s purse and there are no romantic interests between us.  I was just along for the ride because there was a promise of food at the end of the trip.

None of my friends spent beyond their means when they made these purchases, so it’s not like these instances are things I should feel guilty about.  I used to tell people that we needed to go out and stimulate and save the economy by splurging, but I’m pretty sure everyone understood it was a joke.  None of my friends seriously blame me for their once in a lifetime carefree spending sprees, but I’ve been teased about it.  I guess I can conclude that people have a good time spending money when I’m around and perhaps that’s why my mom likes going shopping so much.  Maybe I’m the problem, after all, or maybe it’s because the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  I guess we’ll find out as I conduct the rest of the experiment.

Sometimes I’ll go to the mall and see a group of teens and wonder if the kids these are days are getting uglier or if just looking ugly is the new trend.  I definitely didn’t look like that and neither did anyone I went to high school with.  From the hair style to the make up to the clothes, if these kids weren’t actually ugly, they were trying their hardest to look ugly.  I never thought I would lose touch with what’s cool with kiddies so quickly, if at all.  I was not going to grow old, I was going to age gracefully and still be hip.

This was my plan for the future and it seemed completely feasible, but then I found out, that at the age of 26, I’m already out of touch. My dreams of being super cool dad on day went down the toilet at a rave.
Now to clarify, if someone asked me “Do you want to go to a rave?” I wouldn’t even need a second to think about my answer, which would be an emphatic “No!” So how did I end up at a rave? Easy. You call this “rave” a festival, and you advertise that The Roots, Reflection Eternal, and Chromeo are all performing. I’ve seen The Roots live more than any other artist and tend to catch them whenever I can.
So this festival is called Audiotistic, and I did know beforehand that it was considered a rave, but I figured that if we stayed in the hip-hop room (which was actually an outdoor stage, which was a very pleasant surprise – hip hop shows are notorious for reeking of weed), we wouldn’t really have to deal with the raver kids. Not that I expected any trouble from anyone, I’m just not part of the scene. They could enjoy their techno and glow sticks, and I could enjoy The Roots.
So my friend Beverly and I arrived in San Bernardino and saw a flock of people heading toward the venue. Some of the kids were dressed pretty normally (for going to a concert) and then there were some kids, who were dressed a little more festively, which is a gross understatement. I thought I kind of knew what to expect wardrobe wise from these raver kids. Bright colored clothing, perhaps some colorful jewelry, (you know, things that I wear on an daily basis). To my surprise, ravers these days (guys and girls) prefer to wear as little clothing as possible, except for the boots with the fur (minus the apple bottom jeans).

To be more specific, girls would show up in bikinis, with huge pink furry boots, and Hello Kitty backpacks, along with the aforementioned glow sticks and jewelry. Guys, likewise, would show up in nothing but speedos, backpacks, but without boots. Now, I’ve never been to a rave before, but I’ve been told this new wardrobe ensemble is a fairly new thing to rave culture. These people looked young, like in the 16-20 year old range, so it wasn’t exciting for me to see these scantily clad girls prancing around, it just made me feel creepy and dirty.  Obviously these kids didn’t leave the house looking like that, or least I hope not.  No sane parent would be okay with their kid dressing like that and heading out to the boonies for a “concert”, right?

Honestly, I shouldn’t care.  What these teens were doing was none of my business.  They weren’t ruining my experience when I was watching the actual performances and they weren’t really ruining my time there in between performances.   I’m sure they were doing illegal things, but it none of my concern and honestly not anything unusual (probably a lot less ecstacy though).  I was starting to see things through the eyes of a parent, which was something I was not expecting at all.  For the first time, I felt there was a huge divide at a concert and I didn’t like that feeling at all.  Concerts were supposed to a safe haven of sorts, where people of all ages could experience music and feel connected, but this night you only seemed connected if you were rolling.  The rest of us were horrified on the outside looking in.