When I was 18, I was with my mother at Friendly’s. She was having dinner and I was having a Fribble, as my face was puffed out twice its normal size from a beating I’d taken over a girl. I was talking about how strange it was that, in my current disfigurement, girls seemed particularly flirtatious. My mother looked at me and said “Well, women like a sad guy.” She didn’t look like she thought too highly of these women, or that she shared their sentiment.
When I was 18, I graduated from Simons Rock College of Bard and promptly failed to leave town. I’d only managed to stay in school because a campus shooting my first year invalidated everybody’s academic probation. Now that most of my friends were banned from campus and I finally knew 21-year-olds, it seemed ungrateful to not wear out the welcome that had been extended at the cost of so much blood. I rented a house and let everyone stay there on the unspoken condition that they never thanked me and never cleaned.
When I was 18, R.E.M. was a mid-eighties folk-rock band that became more famous for being less insufferable than U2 while still purveying the same vaguely messianic pomp for agnostics. They worked with willful obscurantism, shirtless adolescents on skateboards, and fetishizing the fact that they didn’t play guitar solos. The singer was rumored to have kissed Morrissey in the same way Siouxsie and the Banshees’ version of “Dear Prudence” was supposedly about Ms. Siouxsie’s relationship with Debbie Harry. Occasionally, the members of R.E.M. wore hats.
R.E.M. was not my favorite band growing up. [...]