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« In Which We Think Green Day's Dookie Is Something It Wasn't »

Thirteen Was A Very Bad Year


Oh man, do you remember the pre-Napster-nabbing days of youth, when buying music was still an active verb that entailed getting your family to drive you 15 minutes to the Sam Goody? I would say halcyon days of youth, but who am I kidding? The financial constraints of your bimonthly babysitting income necessitated that Dad accompany you inside the store, wearing his Trust Me...I'm a [Real Estate] Lawyer t-shirt and joking with the teenage cashier, "Do you listen to this crap too?" This was only the humiliating foreplay to family dinner at the Ground Round where parents shoved kids up to the age of 13 onto a giant scale in the restaurant lobby — reminiscent of that terror-inspiring clock in Safety Last — for the “Penny Per Pound” Sunday special.

I mean, THIRTEEN! Is there anything more inhumane to do to a thirteen year old? Okay, hmmm, after quick consideration, let me specify: to a thirteen year old overfed upper middle class suburban American? Do you perhaps know what this felt like? It was 1994, I was 12, and I remember praying "Lord let me cost less than $1.45" and then emotionally scarfing down a grilled cheese. This is what I endured just to get my hands on a copy of Dookie. Thanks Dad, for buying me that.

Of course, I totally deserved Dookie. I never gave my parents anything to object to. I was a "big boned," paler-than-a-feta-crumble 7th grader who had nothing to do but finish all my homework on time and get a super duper headstart on my SAT prep. I spent most nights on my daybed head-banging along to middling mid-90s mall punk like Rancid and The Offspring, albums about the drugs and sex I wouldn’t actually experience for, like, ten years, save for some senior year dry humping.

Also, there was this boy! I had a crush on him. Once he told me that he was excited for high school because killing frogs would finally be sanctioned, at least in biology, a reveal that struck terror into my heart, but maybe also pubescent arousal. He had Dookie, and so I wanted it, nay, needed it like I wanted, nay, needed him to love me even as his little man hands were tearing apart a frog carcass. Because: teens, suffering, fantasy, oh, you know, if you've watched any My So-Called Life.

And God, Dookie was good. I don’t think I understood a large portion of it at first. In fact, I remember being very confused at the pronoun usage in "Basketcase": I went to a whore/he said my life’s a bore/ so quit my whining cuz it’s bringing her down.

Like did Billy Joe see a male whore? If so, WHO is this woman he’s bringing down? Is this or is this not a PSAT prep riddle like he: gay appropriation by eye-linered Cali darlings as Britney-Madonna lip on lip: performative heterolesbianism? I still do not know! But I could headbang on my daybed to the music and, more importantly, relate to the larger sense of insanity, the anthemic angst, permeating the entire album—"giving myself the creeps", for example, was a strong and present phenomenon for an overweight 12 year teacher's pet pursuing a frog murderer as a romantic interest. Because: love, suffering, murder, oh, you know, if you’ve watched any Dexter.

Incidentally, there was one thing I never got straight about Dookie. Somewhere along the line I came under the impression that Dookie was a totally cool code word for "joint." I listened to the CD with this in mind (that is, until I injured my neck head-banging right before my Bat Mitzvah and my parents replaced all my alt-punk with Indigo Girls). And I somehow missed the clear signifier of the monkey throwing "dookie" on the album cover. In college I said things such as, "Pass the dookie." "Anyone got a dookie?" and "DOOKIE!"

Sure, not often, because I'm not a total fucking retard, but, um, WHERE WERE MY FRIENDS? Why did no one correct me? I have lived 15 long years thinking Dookie to be something it is not, something known to the rest of the world as a DOOBIE, only discovering yesterday, by virtue of a conversation about Green Day, what Dookie really means. That's crazy, right? I mean, yes, when you think about the fact that 20 years from now Heidi will probably be on a Cougar reality show, and that sexting is the new terrorism, or even that Bush was re-elected, it's not that crazy. But in my very small, self-centered world, which for the past 6 hours has been a quarantined mattress in front of a near-godlike A/C window unit, it seems like downright insanity. I mean, fuck, I think it's time I leave my house now.

Lauren Bans is the senior contributor to This Recording. She tumbls here.

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"Pulling Teeth" - Green Day (mp3)

"Having A Blast" - Green Day (mp3)

"When I Come Around" - Green Day (mp3)

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    Football is actually one of the largest sports in America. It has a significant following.
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Reader Comments (1)

from now on whenever i hear the word, or witness the act of, 'headbanging' my mind will immediately run to.... daybead.

August 18, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbend

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