Wednesday, September 14, 2011

White Walls

Pan your mental cameras back to me explaining to my fellow nerd friend that, “We’re simply different from the other kids, and by the other kids, I mean the hipsters. I’m not trying to say that we’re better or that they’re worse, even if they are and we are, but even so, we’re different.” With a focused and confused look on my face like I know what I’m trying to say; I’m just not sure how to make the words pour out of my mouth as smooth as water from a silver pitcher into an Elven bird bath that will magically turn into the vivid portrayal of my thoughts. Recollect your memories of the high school lunch room along with all of the clique connotations that distinguish the groups as inhabitants of their bordered locations. While at Polar Regions of the room, two groups that usually stand out as obvious opposites. The nerds sit in the corners, posted with their backs to the wall so nobody can walk up behind them and unexpectedly trigger symptoms of their autistic aggression. Instead of eating the lunch cooked by the school’s cafeteria they snack on saltine crackers, carrot sticks and read books filled with lessons that are heavier than the pale, malnourished kid who keeps dropping crumbs and leaving oil spots on the pages. While at the same time, the hipsters circulate the newest issues of Rolling Stone and lurk their Facebook News Feed, with the skaters clad in demolished shoes and skinny jeans sitting to the left and the permanent art class residents with their portfolios in hand and their razor cut hair covering part of their faces to the right.

Now in walk girls wearing Toms and kids with glasses that don’t have prescription lenses. The fashionable, environmentally conscience girls veer to the left and walk towards the nerds while the visually impaired walk over to squeeze into a seat somewhere near the hipsters. The Tom girls approach the nerds with their empathetic “Hello” trying to make the nerds feel cool because a girl talked to them, and at the same time, trying to milk out some obscure fact –like the magnetic fields of the sun creating sun spots- that they can regurgitate under pressure in a conversation where the topics of endangered species and global warming were, of course, mentioned. Five minutes after the scuffling of bamboo soles echo into the past, faces with wayfarer knock-offs stroll up and suggest that “maybe if you smiled a little more and talked about Nihilism a little less, you wouldn’t have to troll in the negative spaces of the room like Quasimoto,” with a look of general welfare for the lunchroom communities expelling from their face.

In the least, these two groups are connected by the migration patterns of people walking in the lunch room but even more, they’re connected by the people that fluctuate between them. I like to think that I fall gracefully as an angel with damaged wings and pillows duct taped to my feet into the gray areas gluing them together. Carrying a backpack filled with issues of GQ and XXL hidden behind library books with check-out cards that haven’t been stamped in 4 years when they were checked out on accident and returned within a couple days.

“No, I ain’t not hipster, Mister,” I’d try to reply with a straight face to someone pointing out the fact that I’m riding a single speed bike which I bought because all the cool kids ride bikes and attempting the “mullhawk” that I saw on the heads of Polo models while speaking as if a somewhat distinguished vocabulary was run through a mediocre replica app of Urban But I might also get offended if the same person called me a nerd for reading PC World and enjoying movies that put all of my friends to sleep within the first half hour. I’m not going to lie; it’s a full-time job to try to check multiple boxes in the social census.

In the broadest aspect of the relationship these two communities share the fact that they are both groups of people that share common beliefs, morals, ideas or maybe the sad fact that they just can’t find anyone else to be friends with. As individual groups they stand by themselves but to appear discourse they depend upon the other groups to project their standings into public like a projector on a white wall alongside everyone else’s projection so they can be compared and recognized as not quite the same. So, while I try to stand to the side of their projections, because the direct light hurts my eyes, I step into the projection of another group. Eventually I get tired of side stepping the bright lights pointed in my face and start standing still for short periods of time, wherein I get handed copies of Rolling Stone and begin asking “can I borrow that book full of cracker crumbs?”

In the time that I used to spend dodging the labels of the groups that I shuffled through I now spend reading things that I wouldn’t have been exposed to if I hadn’t stood still for a couple minutes. Learning about different people, places, styles, technologies and things of the sort that fill the world that’s populated by an unfathomable amount of discourse communities that I depend on the existence of to distinguish myself as not a complete member to one but more of a casual visitor to multiple. So, now instead of searching for the infinite white room of THX-1138 I stand in front of projection lights and get some color.


  1. I really like how you took some of the most stereotypical genres of kids in a school and described them. I can relate to throughout high school, those cliques were there. And how you described yourself amongst them at the same time avoiding the label.

  2. I'm with Sage; high school discourse communities are so prevalent because they are so polarizing. But there's always those people who can bridge the gap.

    You do it by using the genres of the different DCs. Well done there.

    A minor point, some of your metaphors and similes may be a little too subtle for your reader...but then, you might be okay with that ;-)