There are two distinct periods in the average American's life: high school and not-high school. For me, the farther I get from those formative ninth-through-twelfth-grade years -- 1994 to 1998 -- the cooler they seem to have been. Today, when I look back at say, 1995, my eyes glaze over with a gooey fondness: In my mind, fifteen-year-old me had the poise of Coco Chanel, the mouth of Courtney Love and the popularity of Princess Grace and Katy Perry combined.
In reality, I just had the acne of Courtney Love.
High school probably sucked, but luckily, I don't remember much of it. Yesterday, I took a trip to back to high school with fellow Westword writer Britt Chester, to speak to my cousin's sophomore journalism class about how "cool" it is to be a reporter. (For the record, those quotation marks are a visual acknowledgement that while I think what I do is rad, I cannot speak for of the thoughts of any teenagers involved.)
All in all, being a high schooler in 2011 didn't seem so bad: I didn't spot any loners sulking in the hallways, just gaggles of pizza-eating kids congregating in massive, smiling human piles. There was even a group outside of the lunch room soliciting interest in a GLBT club, something that couldn't have existed when I was in tenth grade. The kid manning the table told me, "Without gays, there would be no hair stylists." Excellent point. Modern-day high school looks pretty cool.
Walking into room 106, we were pumped. Britt and I had spent the summer riding bikes around the city, camping out at coffee shops writing stories, doing interviews on the fly, covering concerts (at least) three nights a week, and generally doing stuff that most of the time didn't feel like work. We were ready to tell this class of budding young reporters all about it. We were going to get these kids excited about writing and photography and keeping the spirit of journalism alive! Shit was going to be so epic!
But shit was not epic.
Don't get me wrong -- it wasn't bad. The class's gracious journalism teacher had even written the day's agenda on the board: We were "The Bree & Britt Show." My ego's wheels quickly started turning. Our own show? We were a funny, attractive couple of writers; this was definitely a possibility. This day was starting to look even more awesome.
But these were teenagers we about to speak to, and anyone older than they are is considered an adult. We are adults. And adults are stupid. And boring. In my overzealous faux-gonzo mind, the class was going to have a million questions about the ins and outs of reporting and would want to know how we first delved into the still-thriving field of journalism. And Britt and I would regale them with tales of interviews gone awry and harrowing street-reporting escapades and the ten best concerts we had witnessed in the whole of our music critic lives.
The class did ask some questions, and, when it didn't seem like we were boring them to death with reporter talk, there were definitely moments of actual discussion. But we didn't get their undivided attention until my cohort mentioned the magic word.That word was a name, and that name was Ke$ha.
Discussions of Ke$ha's glitter abuse and strange party-animal style erupted from every table. Britt and I chimed in with our love for the Jack Daniels-chugging tween-targeted sex machine, and spilled all of the strange things we'd witnessed at Ke$ha's almost sold-out shows. After an hour and a half of awkward, hands-in-armpits blabbing, the ice was at last broken. Ke$ha made us relevant journalists.
And with that, the bell rang -- and our fleeting moment of high school cool was over. I didn't even get to tell the classroom full of kids that yours truly had been quoted on the Ke$ha Get $leazy Tour wikipedia page.