The Clash – Lost in the Supermarket

When: 31 March 2009
Where: M Car inbound
Who: My ex
Weather: Mild, clear

San Francisco was beautiful, but quite cold as far as I was concerned. I was on the edge of town to begin with, and SF State didn’t suit me at all. How could people take it upon themselves to judge me for not taking drugs? I’d gotten the worst possible impression of the place, and I had to take whatever little victories I could get.

I was so bored it was making me sick, and I thought it best to steer clear of school. According to Buzzfeed, there was a contour in the exterior wall of St. Mary’s Cathedral so shaped that a female breast would appear in the form of a shadow every afternoon. It was better than nothing.

On the train ride up, I noticed my ex-girlfriend reading a book at the other end of the car, and for the misguided purpose of improving her comically bad impression of me, I decided to go over and be civil. The book was East of Eden, taken from a relative’s garage. I told her where I was going.

“Classy,” she said, before I awkwardly walked back to the other end of the car.

Next: Songs for Seafaring.

X – “Nausea”

When: February 2006
Where: DBTI Room 603
Who: My math class
Weather: Cold, overcast

If you had to find me before lunchtime, there were two possible places I could be: 1) In Mr. Pedregon’s geometry class, sneaking peanut M&Ms and trying not to fall asleep, or 2) In Mr. Montes’ english class, being awesome.

Montes was a communist, back in the days before I had a problem with that, but he was a perfectly open-minded guy who listened to everyone. Like most of the teachers at our school, he was a young former student, and frequently took our required reading to task, such as the laughably dreadful A Tribe Apart, or even sacred cows like Catcher in the Rye (which I also hated).

Montes laid out a convincing argument that A Tribe Apart was a misbegotten venture into the dark depths of upper-class suburban Virginia teenagers by a culturally oblivious, borderline racist, middle-aged Ph.D. candidate who took every story kids told her at their word. You can imagine the result. To counter the fact that this was part of our curriculum, he showed us a ton of documentaries. And one day, he brought something that was quite impossible: a DVD copy of The Decline of Western Civilization.

That was Thursday. Friday came, and with it a geometry test. This was in the 600 building of the school, which hadn’t been touched since the Fifties; the linoleum was so worn you could skate all the way down the hall on the soles of your shoes. And as most teachers kept the door open, we could all hear each other. So after finishing the test early, I sat quietly at my seat, starving for lunch as always, and the echo of this song drifted in from Montes’ room. And I felt slightly better.

Next: The only difference is what might be is NOW.