I am a slave to trends. Though I may push the image of a contrarian on the outskirts of society, I, like every other outsider, wish for nothing else than to fit in. Conforming seems such an easier way to live life. Doing what other people say without fuss or bother, and being rewarded for it via maintaining relationships and a career for longer than five minutes before throwing it away out of some self-delusion of being better than everybody else. Unfortunately for me, this servitude to the last fashion or movement is only ever surface-deep, and the shallow veneer through which I live soon rubs off the moment I meet anybody who actually lives that life for real, often resulting in my abandoning of that subculture. The net result of that is that, eight months away from reaching a major birthday milestone, I can point to a stagnant career, a non-existent love life, a total inability to communicate with anybody in a public setting, and a grand total of one friend—whom I simply tolerate more than anything else. (He says far worse about me.)
Through childhood it was the alternative culture—the greebo (or grebo as some ultra-contrarians claimed it), the emo, the scene kid: alternating between baggy jeans—that would serve as sweeps, collecting dust and mud with every move of my leg because the trousers were so long and wide that even giant strides would not lift the fabric from the ground—and jeans so tight that on at least two occasions the simple act of standing up ripped the in-seam. At times I jumped into the hair dye aspect of it, at times turning my hair various shades of red and blue and green and gold, as if each week advertising a different African country. On one occasion, I dyed it blonde, only to realise halfway through I had not enough dye for the long locks flowing down to below my shoulders: the end result was a sort of leopard print or cheetah spots across my crown. When it came to the music, it all sounded the same: angry men shouting angrily over angry guitars. Sometimes a band would differentiate itself by throwing in an angry violinist too, no doubt fiddling vexatiously to childhood memories of performing Shostakovich. I am no great lover of music at the best of times. There is no curiosity in that art form. If I happen across one song I like, I will listen to it again and again; but never do I have the urge to look at the artist and search something else that they have made. I think, of all the songs I have ever heard, there are about ten that I could name both the title and the artist, and less than half that I could name a second song of theirs.
Around the time of my first year at university, Boardwalk Empire began airing on HBO. With that show came my jump into the three-piece suits and undercuts that went with it. I soon discovered that I had neither the physique nor the jawline to pull off such a look. I adopted the haircut hoping to come across as the modern day Jimmy Darmody; people around me said I looked more like Andy Dufresne. As an aside, the fashion of that time has come around again. Though people attribute to it the Peaky Blinder Effect. How these other contrarians would weep if they learned they were a decade late to the party. Fortunately for them, nobody outside of America was aware of Boardwalk Empire or any other HBO show until Game of Thrones came about.
Fashion-wise, I have mostly learned my lesson. I have a very limited wardrobe these days: a collection of striped jumpers, echoing a Krueger without the knife-hands; slim-fit jeans, only ever in a light blue; red t-shirts, all short-sleeve; and blue Vans, who don’t sponsor me though I wish they would to cut down on costs. As for the hair, ‘grade two on the back and sides, longer on the top’ is a serviceable, economical, always-on-trend bob; though even then, I only have it cut two or three times. Often I let it grow to the scientific length of: it’s annoying me now so I will get it cut. One of the very few things I can cling to in my advancing years and unfulfilling life is that my hair is still thick and my hairline is still at the front of my head and not somewhere behind my ears. Like the hair on the top of my head, the hair on my chin only goes when I can feel myself chewing my moustache. That one friend and I regularly state we will grow Author Beards, and not shave until we are published. I am sure soon enough Rasputin will think I look too unkempt.
I think that when I started this, this was meant to lead somewhere. Into some great description of what I am doing with my life now or something else I have latched on to. But if that was the case, what that point was escapes me. In the absence of discovering something else to type in its place, I think I will leave it at that. Perhaps there was no great theme; perhaps I simply wanted to talk about myself and project the image of a young boy with leopard prints in his hair.
As for music, I still find most of it terrible. If I ever need to drown out the voices inside my head, I flood my ears with white noise.
And endless screaming.