Monday, November 06, 2006


As some of you may know, the brilliant Sarah of Que Sera Sera runs a show called Cringe! where bloggers and writers hang out in bars and do dramatic readings of their childhood journals. I've been a huge fan of this for a long time, because, well, imagine how overwrought I get in this space and then add in adolescent hormones and being stranded in a large Midwestern high school. The ANGST, people. Oh my god, the ANGST. The way I wrote in 1996 you'd think I was living in Bosnia instead of suburban Detroit.

Back in January I'd asked Sarah if I could borrow the Cringe! name to organize a similar show at the DC Fringe Festival called Cringe! At The Fringe! She wrote me a very polite email back explaining that they were in the process of securing TV rights for Cringe! and therefore I would be unable to use that name. Frankly, I thought she was taking the piss out of me, because while I loved the idea and everyone I mentioned it to loved it, it seemed to require a certain distance and appreciation of irony. Repatraited East Coasters would completely dig it, but would the people who stayed in their hometowns and started popping out babies upon receiving a high school diploma appreciate the hilarity of publicly reading their diaries?

It turns out yes, because Sarah recently included me on an Evite to attend the first taping of Cringe! (Sarah, if you're reading this, thank you and good luck!) I really wish that I could go, but there's that whole pesky not-living-in-New-York thing.

Getting the Evite inspired me to pull out my old middle school and high school diaries, which I brought back home with me the last time I was in Michigan. Last night I poured myself a very large glass of Cab Sav, put on The Cure t-shirt with Robert Smith's face on it that my high school boyfriend gave me when I asked for something of his to sleep in (oh, how my father just LOVED that), and cracked open the diaries.

And, sweet Merlin's beard, it was horrifying. More hysterically scary than I ever could have imagined. I mean, I remember watching a lot of My So-Called Life and thinking that I WAS Angela Chase because I moped a lot and had dyed red hair, but I honestly had no idea that that level of tormented angst had seeped into my journaling. Has it really been only nine years since I was that tortured and self-obsessed? Did I really throw around the word "love" with so much abandon while being such a gigantic prude? Was I seriously that dramatic? If so, I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize to everyone I ever knew between the years of 1994 and 1999.

There were some entries about my high school boyfriend that were actually really quite sweet, and I'm so glad I wrote down the things he said because they are to this day the best things that a guy has ever told me. Sorry, kids, I'm keeping first love to myself. But I will leave you with two passages I once wrote in complete dead seriousness that last night made me laugh so hard I snorted wine out of my nose onto the cat:

"Dear Diary, Mike is so incredibly cute... without his glasses, he looks exactly like Harvey in Sabrina, The Teenage Witch!"

"Dear Diary, In one instant, my dreams were hopelessly shattered in front of me and my family is picking up the pieces and cutting me with them. It is so unfair that I'm taller than Donny Osmond!"


Law-Rah said...

Those are priceless, EJ! I laughed too. I did the same think with a glass (bottle) of Merlot last week. I, too, was astounded by how many times I fell in "love". Ah, to be a child again.

Sharkbait said...

Um Harvey was HOT man. Seriously.

Jen said...

HA HA. I got to get smacked in the face by Donny Osmond and you just WATCHED. I had no idea that this caused you such dismay, but don't worry - I'm sure we'll discuss your feelings at length at Thanksgiving.

ejtakeslife said...

Oh, I was sooooo jealous of you, Jen. Not only did you get to dance around with Donny Osmond and his amazing-colored coat, but you had Mom practically forcing ice cream down your gullet so you'd keep weight on! Donny Osmond AND ice cream??

sparkles anonymous! said...

I don't think I could dig my old ones out again - the cringe factor would just be too overwhelming. But I do remember writing my Will when I was 13 because I'd been reading too many "teens with cancer!" books, and also copying the lyrics to "Owner of a Lonely Heart" because I thought the truth of that song was just SO profound. Owner of a lonely heart -- much better than the owner of a broken heart, indeed.

S said...

variation on cringe:

my brother recently discovered my stash of high school diaries. i realized what had happened when he asked me when boyfriend X first said he loved me. [insert hyperventilating here.] that sort of drama really should remain private and not a subject of family humiliation.