Be Different From Different From Different From Different


As you can tell from my blog, I’m pretty much a nonconformist. You might even say I’m a born unorthodox dissident who doesn’t give a fuck. Offline, I’m even more so.

For instance, I drive a Scion. I know, right? Most pseudo-hipsters would stop there, but I went the distance. I told my dealer, Steve Labredo, I says, “Steve, the factory color is not conducive to my refreshingly quirky iconoclasm. It would be unacceptable for my id to be dictated by some slob of an automaton fascist paint gun.” So Steve let me peruse a thick book of alternatives, and after a few hours of deliber-twitteration I decided on Scarlett Johansson, a hue I chose ironically because she’s such a shitty actress and I hate her. Steve assured me I was the first person ever to select that color, making my car even more one of a kind.

After my new skinjob I thought what better way to christen my new ride’s CD/mp3 player than with…a Scarlett Johansson CD! So I drove to the nearest half-dead melody swindler and relieved it of one (1) copy of the disc she knitted with Pete Yorn.  “I’m buying it ironically,” I told the clerk as he expectorated into my bag. Which was true. See, I hate Pete Yorn too. And what’s more ironic than touring the city in a gruesome-shaded vessel while listening to two people I despise? That’s so me.

But my maverick bent doesn’t stop on the road. It’s a way of life! I eat nothing but Twix and Pringles Extremes, two irreverent comestibles that tend to shock anyone over 30. The Twix always came in handy whenever I found myself in Diablo Cody-ish awksitches (“awkward situations,” if you speak not the tongue) with impossibly attractive women. If and when I uttered something potentially offensive, I reached for a choco wand, took a thoughtful bite, and stopped time long enough to salvage my nookie with a velvet-tongued humdinger. Like one time last summer, I suckered this strumpet back to my hovel to, um, blog. Oh, we blogged, all right. Four entries after a bottle of scotch and two more in the bathtub.

I break out the Pringles Extremes for amorous emergencies, when a girl suspects I’m a little too uptight. Once she sees me coolly pop a crisp down my chute, she knows I’m a savage between satin. (Caution: Cheetos only work on wine-cooler chicks.) Before Pringles: “No, let’s just cuddle chastely on the couch.” After Pringles: “CAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWK!”

Recently, though, I’ve encountered a conundrum exclusive to cultural renegades. I’m worried that my current bank isn’t unique enough. For a while I had a savings account at Cal Fed, because I thought that Elvis Schmiedekamp guy was a freewheeling rake who watched my money personally, but later I realized he was a sellout puppet, so I transferred everything to Washington Mutual after one of its ATMs greeted me like a high-school pal. (“Ya wanna, I dunno, like, check your balance or some shit?” its screen inquired as I coaxed $40 from its tummy; I chuckled and pushed “Naw, ‘s all good.” To which it replied, “No big. Thanks for chillin’ wit’ WaMu, dawg.”) But now it’s owned, I think, by Chevy Chase.

I’m not looking forward to being just another customer again, with no charismatic employee/pitchman to admire. So I’m trying to decide between Wells Fargo and Red Canoe. I’ve studied both institutions’ ATM screens very carefully, and it’s a toss-up. The former has these cute pictures of various wry domestic sequences, my favorite being the upwardly mobile multiracial couple (diversity is a plus) hovering over a freeloading relative snoozing on the couch. That’s a scene we can all dig, right? Red Canoe, however, as seen above, beseeches me to “Be Different,” which in their case means strapping on a lifejacket and hitting the metaphorical rapids of financial excitement. On the one hand, I like a bank that can make me laugh. On the other, I like getting splashed in the face.

I tried asking my buddy Paul for advice, but being Paul, he was a useless dick. “You’re too susceptible to empty hype,” he oinked. “It doesn’t really matter who you bank with, or whose food you eat or jeans you wear. Like driving a Scion doesn’t make you different.” “Be the original, not a copy!” I barked. That’s the mark of a Scion owner! Paul!” Being a gentleman, I refrained from adding that as the owner of an anonymous rustbucket, he was just jealous. I mean, any dipshit can walk into a dealership and buy a 1982 VW Rabbit GTI, but a Scion — that’s a different story. “See what I mean? You’re just parroting an advertisement,” Paul said, making no sense whatsoever. I fired back the only rational response: “Meh meh meh, my name’s Paul, and I’m a giant douchebag.” He wilted into his dumplings.

My girlfriend Genevivre laughed when I told her that story. “That’s exactly what Jonah Hill would’ve done,” she said approvingly, “except he’d repeat it until it wasn’t funny anymore, then he’d keep at it until it was re-funny, like a fart that turns a corner and waits.” “Yeah, but I wish I’d done it more like Seth Rogen,” I confessed. “He would’ve said douche nozzle just to be a contrarian.” We agreed and sat in silence. Genevivre worships at the Apatow altar and has taken to dressing like Charlyne Yi, which makes her frumpy-hot.

Genevivre is 12 years my junior, but we get along swimmingly. Of course, we first had to overcome a common language barrier. She speaks in broken Juno whereas I long ago pickled into a wry Thurston Moore with a light Spin Doctors brogue for a gregarious veneer. So we’re often operating on different levels of acidic sarcasm. Our age gap has also made for some interesting predicaments. She gets mad when I won’t talk like Michael Cera in bed (“Stammer, dammit!” she growls between thrusts. “Fuck me like a timid, indecisive manchild! Moan toward an inquisitive register!”), and I nearly broke up with her once during a Pixies show when she innocently asked, as I swooned enraptured to “Wave of Mutilation,” lost in those far-off Doolittle nights, “So when are the Pipsqueaks coming on? These fat old hacks are giving me a headache.”

As much as Genevivre gets on my nerves sometimes, I have to remember that she’s young and relevant, so I must obey her if I want to stay acceptably different. But every now and then I find myself reviewing old tapes of ex-girlfriends while moping in a candlelit din with a cold bottle of vintage Zima. We were all so young and relevant then ourselves, dancing together across the same glorious wavelength.

Here’s a recording made on my 25th birthday in 1997 (I’ll upload the video someday, once I’ve found the appropriately hip Death Cab for Cutie track to accompany it):

HER: I love you, pumpkin.
ME: I love you, too, honeybunny. [raised voice] All right, everybody, be cool! This is a robbery!
HER: Any of you fuckin’ pigs mooooove, and I’ll execute every motherfuckin’ last oneaya!

[Both collapse in paroxysms of laughter.]

ME: Ah, Pulp Fiction.
HER: Totally.
ME: Y’know, we are so perfect together.
HER: Omigod. Cory!
ME: What?
HER: You said that without using air quotes!
ME: That’s right, baby. I think it’s time I made a commitment.
HER: No shit?
ME: Not fragrant clump one.
HER: Oh. I am so fucking happy!
ME: Me too. I feel it, I really do.

[Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You” whispers in the background.]

HER: [softly] Hey. Got something for you.
ME: Yeah?
HER: Yeah.
ME: Yeah?
HER: Yeah.


HER: Happy birthday!
ME: Oh, wow! Thank you! Wow! What is it?
HER: [coyly] Open it.
ME: Aw, come on. Not even a hint?
HER: Patience is a virtue.

[rustling, tearing]

ME: [disappointed] Huh.
HER: You like it?
ME: Hm.
HER: Is that good?
ME: It’s a box of ska.
HER: Yes!
ME: Oh.
HER: Don’t you like it?
ME: Well…
HER: Well?
ME: Well, it’s just that ska is way overplayed and trendy now.
HER: Huh?
ME: Well…
HER: I was with you, like, two days ago when you bought all those Specials albums! You didn’t seem to think ska sucked then!
ME: Yeah, but teenyboppers like it now. I can’t listen to this shit. I need something different.
HER: Me too. I’m leaving. You’re an asshole.
ME: Hey!
HER: [angrily] What?
ME: Can you at least leave the receipt so I can trade it for some Esquivel?

[Door slams. ME shrugs and pours a martini.]

HOPE SANDOVAL: “A stranger’s heart without a home…”

Ah, ska and Esquivel, swing and space-age bachelor pad music. They were all a zillion trends ago. It occurred to me that perhaps what’s now will soon be outre as well. I can already see it happening with some of my favorite phrases, like “I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.” It seemed so fresh once, but now Genevivre smiles only slightly when I say it and insists up and down she has no idea how those Kimya Dawson mp3s got into her Zune (her shade: Rose McGowan). “Hipster Alzheimer’s,” Paul called it. “I think she picked it up from you.” “Fuck off, Accusatory Magoo,” I retorted, but my heart wasn’t in it. Calling everyone “Magoo” or variations on “Jumpy McJumpenstein” has lost its edge as well. It’s overplayed and trendy. I don’t have time for that. I need to drown in different, surround myself with like-minded different.

“You can’t make a conscious effort to be different,” Paul explained as we passed the Red Canoe billboard that so recently captured my fancy. “Either you are or you’re not. Products, youth, and fashions don’t change that.” Spoken like a card-carrying member of the status quo.

I bit into a Pringles and felt different surge through my body, compelling me to get a tattoo, a funky-colored Mohawk, some oversized faux Hollywood sunglasses — all the necessary accoutrements of individualism in its purest form. Paul would never understand. He only consumes off-brands, which offer nothing but sustenance in place of an outlet for personal expression. What a sad life he must lead, to never know freedom, to never think outside the bun.


One comment

  1. Kelly · August 17, 2009


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