My Pop Culture Diary

October 15, 2013

I fucking love pop culture sometimes.

Here’s what I mean:

A while ago I heard “Faith” on the radio. Are you kidding me? It was on the SOFT ROCK station. How come? Who knows. All I know is that I was driving home from work and heard it and immediately I was on the bus to go skiing with my eighth grade class on a Thursday afternoon in 1999, and the popular girls were singing that song while me and my best friend – nerds, blissfully ignored – giggled and ate pounds of sour patch kids in our secluded seats near the front.

Isn’t that incredible? Then, the radio played “Poker Face.” Immediately, I thought of the Glee version – remember Lea Michele and Idina Menzel singing that across the piano at each other, a slow remix that somehow worked? No? Well, then you probably weren’t into Glee in its first season, like I was, when my best friends and I lived in a crappy apartment in Allston. That year, still freshly out of college, we spent every Friday night pre gaming while we picked out short skirts and tight little dresses to wear to our local bars. And every Friday night at 2:30 AM we’d hobble home, first stopping at the pizza place on the corner to flirt with the sexy Greek guy who worked there and simultaneously beg him to make us barbeque chicken wraps.

Whenever I think about Kelly Clarkson, I think about the first season of American Idol, the summer I was 16 and starting to drink for the first time. That August, in the ultimate act of rebellion, my friends and I decided to sleep in the field behind my house (we achieved the freedom to do this by creating an elaborate web of lies about sanctioned sleepovers). When we were caught (because of COURSE we were), my parents grounded me for having lied to them. It was the first time I’d been grounded, and I spent that solitary, sticky-hot weekend in our basement TV room, rooting ardently for Kelly over Justin.

Sometimes, I get really nostalgic for Scrubs. Then, as I think about how good it was in its first few seasons, I get nostalgic for Facebook groups, the kind that you used to be able to make. My freshman year of college, when Facebook was still the newest thing in the world, I created a group called “Scrubs is the best show ever,” and felt genuinely proud when we got like, 20 members. It was proof of my diehard appreciation for quality sitcoms. I was honored.

Sometimes the memories are more abstract. Any mention of “Summer Girls” (aka The Abercrombie and Fitch song) brings me back to the driveway loop in front of my elementary school, where I used to hang out and wait for my parents to come get me. That song was just in the air for all of 7th grade, and it spoke of something I knew I wasn’t – wild, teenage, ready for anything – but that I could sense might be coming.

I don’t listen to the radio anymore. I take the subway to work, and I listen to the huge catalogue of songs on my iPod that I don’t remember to update that often. I don’t have cable now – just Netflix and Hulu Plus – so I don’t see that many commercials for the newest shows and movies. I pick what I want to watch. I worry a little about what kind of pop-culture diary I’m creating for myself: what song, 20 years from now, will transport me back to my 28th year? I might start listening to the radio more often, so as to more securely link this day in October to this particular pop culture moment.

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