(Immediately following Columbine)
“I had to carry ALL my books today because we can’t have backpacks now, for fear of bombs. Unless they’re clear, but I wouldn’t be caught DEAD with a CLEAR backpack!”- age 15
I desperately wish that I was just being inappropriate and insensitively ironic, but I was not. This is an accurate account of how Columbine affected my fifteen year old self. My reaction was that of… gentle displeasure.
This tragedy provoked national debate on gun control, goth culture, video game violence, and quite nearly put the HOT TOPIC out of business. Yet, I was unmoved. The worst part is I remember pretending to care. The teachers would turn on the news coverage and I would mimic their head shaking anguish. Other students cried, so I threw on some water fountain tears to match their empathy. I was the devil.
I remember doing that kind of thing a lot actually. I didn’t LIKE being emotionally stunted; I knew how I was supposed to feel, I just didn’t. Sometimes I would stare into an overhead fluorescent light to give my eyes that “beginning to mist” facade. I wanted to wear my heart on my sleeve like my hormonally electric friends did. The injustices of the world allowed them to shamelessly cry in public! And I would just be standing around, looking like an ass-hole robot from planet Don’t Care.
I realize this makes me look like a sociopath. It’s a bit “Dexter-esque”, isn’t it? But I can assure you that I’m not. It turns out it was just a phase, just your average 24 year phase. And all that sympathy/ emotional connectivity I couldn’t feel for those first 24 years now bubbles out of me at any given moment. A picture of a dog in a butterfly costume? I’m WEEPING. The beginning of the movie UP? I called in sick to work…out of grief. And don’t even get me started on those soul inspiring GE commercials! Sometimes my drive to work, the same one I have taken every day for three years, is too beautiful to digest. And if there are cows are grazing I’m useless the rest of the day.
In High School I only cared about myself, my own drama induced delusions. Even then I rarely shared them with anybody and just wrote them in my diaries (luckily for you). So while the entire nation was crying for the victims of a small town; forever changing public school policy, I became disgruntled under the weight of my school books. I didn’t see the “clear back-pack” as an increase in security, but instead a fashion faux-pas, something I tried frantically to stay away from. Though looking back through photos I clearly failed.
During this time we were also given lanyards that we had to wear while on school property. It was a plastic ID with our picture and grade level on it. During first hour, some guy with a cleft lip came around and checked to make sure we were all wearing it. I replaced my picture with a picture of Cartman from SouthPark. I was looking forward to getting into “cool-kid trouble” for standing up to “the man”. But Cartman’s fat head and constant scowl must have registered similarly to me, because it was 5 weeks before anybody noticed. Fail.
While researching for this blog post, I came across a charity (Pacer.org) that helps set up anti-bullying seminars and preventative measures in the education system. I donated to it. Did I donate because I feel REALLY bad about my one sentence reaction to the Columbine tragedy? Yes, most definitely. But I mainly donated because of the sentence that followed;
“…for fear of bombs. Unless they’re clear, but I wouldn’t be caught DEAD with a CLEAR backpack! In more important news, Matt looked SUPER HOT TODAY!”
Hopefully karma was a teenager once too…