Lovefool 03.12.12 | Woe Is Us, Together

Lovefool finds the tales of teenage wasteland in Brad Abraham’s Mixtape "so eerily similar to actual teenagers that it’s frightening."



When I was a teenager, and up through my early twenties, my entire life was soundtracked. I fell in love to delightful soundtracks bursting with major chords and fell out of love to Liz Phair. I’d make breathless mix tapes for beaus and later moved on to CDs that sometimes I would give away, quietly and with little fanfare, and sometimes I would keep because the emotions on the discs didn’t quite match up with the emotions in the relationships. I made CDs for everyone—my sister, my friends who “didn’t really listen to music”—but those perfect round platters of declarations that I made for the boys I liked were the best. One year, I even went so far as to write up a brief (not as brief as it should have been) history of my amours, complete with accompanying lyric snippet, and posted them on a public blog that most of them read. I was not a popular girl for a while after that. My inner agony at rereading that little essay today, right this second, isn’t to say I didn’t mean it, though—despite having wrestled most of those tunes back from those uncomfortable youthful associations, a few of them are haunted to this very day.
On the other hand, it makes perfect sense that the first issue of Brad Abraham’s Mixtape brought back all those memories of that teenage wasteland. Set a little before my time, Abraham’s teens are listening to the Pixies and the Smiths with a dash of early R.E.M. and Sonic Youth thrown in, sonic landscapes I grew up amongst echoes of. In fact, I’d say they’re contemporary to Bleu Finnegan and the rest of the gang over at Blue Monday, but the attitudes are a million miles away. Abraham’s teens are equipped with large dashes of stupid and, well, frankly, they’re not very fun.
Which means that they’re telling stories so eerily similar to actual teenagers that it’s frightening. Bleu was the teenager I wanted to be, Abraham’s Jim is far closer to the one that I actually was. Shockingly selfish, even for a teenage boy, he overlooks a perfectly sweet ugly ducking turned swan to go after the girl he’ll never get, his very own Molly Ringwald with nary a John Hughes ending in sight. Ignoring helpful advice from a friend, including a warning not to drink and drive, he absolutely oversteps his boundaries and makes what was probably a very frightening move on our swan, one he never intended to follow through on. Fortunately, he stops himself from following through in the immediate and he and the swan part ways, once that night and once a little more…uncomfortably at school. She, to her credit, calls him out on his teenage boy bullshit and does the right thing and goes on her merry way. He’s completely typical, she’s delightfully refreshing and it’s agonizing to read because, ugh, you know she’s secretly super-pissed off and her day is ruined and she clearly deserves better. But, gloriously, she will wake up the next day, the next week, the next month, and shake it off and move on to someone who’s probably still kind of an asshole but not as much of one, hopefully. Because that’s what teenagers do, bless.
I look back on my teenage years with a surprising amount of fondness and, the other day, had a strange conversation with a former friend who told me I was really brave to be who I was back then. And, honestly, who I was happened to be a big ball of drama, but I like to think she was also a fairly good friend and, coincidentally, had excellent taste in music and was smart and funny and all of the other things I’ve grown up to be, only without the dramatic tendencies. I like to think that, anyway. Hopefully, Abraham’s Jim will come around and stop being such a jerk. He probably won’t, because he’s a stupid teenager and that’s what they do. It’s certainly what I did, despite the rosy tints of hindsight on those years. It’s a pretty solid reminder, though, reading Abraham’s musings on music and teenage romance, that I wouldn’t be 16 again for all the tea in China and a guaranteed Molly Ringwald ending. | Erin Jameson

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