Thursday, December 11, 2008

On my knees for Nny

In January 1998 I was in seventh grade. Shortly after winter break, I came down with a terrible cold, the type of mucousy weeks-long ordeal that everyone falls into time and again, but I took it very personally. The previous summer, I had begun keeping a journal. One of the first entries, on June 6, 1997, read: "I got my period. A week ago. Not that it matters, anyway." The following entry was on the same page:
I have a new motto. IF YOU DON'T LIKE ME, SCREW YOU. And you know what? It works pretty well!

Seventh grade was marginally better than sixth, the hands-down winner of Worst School Year Ever, mainly because the universe took pity on me and moved a new girl into my suburb. I spotted her on the first day of school and zeroed right in, transfixed by the possibility that I might be able to nab her before she figured out how lame I was. On the first day of school I had a newly dyed-red bob and a cool black sweater with rainbow stripes across the chest. Executing a version of the awesome "sexy walk" I'd been working on, I hobbled over to her desk. "Hi," I said. "Are you new?"

That dear sweet girl later said that she looked up to see me "half-limping, half-humping" my way down the aisle towards her. And she forgave me that, as well as an endless list of other ills: the way, in ninth grade, that I zipped hoodies up to just under my rack and actually pushed the sweatshirt back behind my boobs, my raver-baby-goth vinyl nightmare wardrobe from 1999-2001, a habit of casual lying so strong that I once told her my dog was purple and held to it as the (white) dog walked into the room.

One of the reasons my cold pissed me off so much was because it necessarily postponed my first sleepover with my new friend. The catarrh I'd contracted managed to destroy any positive element of January, the most miserable month of the year. I holed up in my room with my favorite comic books, Jhonen Vasquez's Johnny The Homicidal Maniac series, and their natural soundtrack, the first Garbage album.

My father had brought me a few issues of Johnny The Homicidal Maniac (hereafter JTHM) the previous fall. By the middle of the winter I was hooked, having read and reread them until the bindings were wobbly. I was missing a few of the seven issues - #4 and #6, I think - but the storyline was comprehensible without them. The main character, who abbreviates Johnny to "Nny," is a psychotic shut-in with awesome boots who murders people in creative ways to generate a continuous supply of blood with which to cover a wall. If the wall doesn't stay covered in blood, "things" begin to push through from the other side. Nny is surrounded by a menagerie of goths, unhappy children, and inanimate objects - dead rabbits, sinister doughboys - who embody different elements of his internal monologue.

JTHM is a major pop culture lodestar for millennial goths, but I didn't know that when I started reading it. It was just something my dad brought back from the comic book store, and it aligned nicely with my nihilistic thirteen-year-old worldview. What I liked about JTHM and Marilyn Manson then is the same thing I now like about Crystal Castles: extreme violence transcendent in its exaggeration. I've never lost my appetite for media willing to grab my face and force me into something, even while I've maintained a simpatico for gentler music, literature, and film (see Sufjan Stevens, the work of Marilynne Robinson, Benny and Joon).

So I holed up in my room with the comics and the album, playing the song "My Lover's Box," over and over again. I was confused by the way I felt for Nny: deep sympathy, almost pity, a desire to take care of him (relationship problems here I come!). I knew, of course, that he wasn't real. For my purposes, however, he was about as accessible as the boys I had given up having crushes on at school and the whiny lead singer of my favorite band.

I decided to start a new website to suss out my feelings. I had played webmistress once before, in the winter of sixth grade, with an Angelfire page called "Faeri's Place" that featured a pretty boilerplate poem about the effects of social ostracization (not good). This time I drafted up a website using Geocities called "My Own Personal Dungeon: A Tribute to Nny." This website still exists. Here's a sample:
My opening spiel: The first time I picked up a JTHM, I was 13, fed up with life and utterly convinced that I was not only alone in my opinions and views, but that I would always be. Once I read JTHM #1, my entire perspective changed. I suddenly loved everything that Nny said and stood for and meant(as sick as it was). I didn't really care about the fact that he had caverns below his home filled with corpses--he had the same type of pain I did, the kind I was convinced that no one else could have. Unfortuantely, I somehow misplaced my JTHM #3-6, so all I have now are #s 1,2, and 7( and couple of equally delightful Squees). I never even got a chance to read the ones I lost, so I'm looking forward to buying the Trade Paperback Which I now have.

One major thing that clouds my life is my hatred for my school and the brats who attend it. They can't see that my differences, my individuality, make me a more interesting person, not a worse one. When I am done with middle school, when I go to high school and am liberated because my friends and I will have a place and actually make sense, I will look back on this and smile. But for now I frown.

From a page called "Learn more about MEEEEE!!": My interests include art, sculpture, books, and making teachers cry. One thing I really love to do is wear little black dresses and capes to dances and baffle the little sunny girls in pink while I dance with all the hot boys. That's fun. But anyway, I like a lot of music...some of its good and some of tis bad.. Most notably, Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, Emma Townshend, Veruca Salt, NIN, Sneaker Pimps, Eve 6, Green Day, Beck, and Everclear. Scuba diving is fun and I love the British Vrigin Islands. I worship his holiness Jhonen Vasquez. No, really, I;'m a wiccan, but I don't want to explain that right now. Maybe I;ll do it later. Anyway, here is the maor proof that I am on the right side of the thin line between genius and insanity(but what is the right side?):

I have a crush on Nny.

Yes. Its true. I'm not one of those freaks who ends up on the Jerry Spring show who likes criminals. I would rather that Nny did not kill people. But that doesn'y cloud my liking of him. The things he says are wonderful and beautiful. He makes so much sense with his wisdom:

"How is it you're so beautiful and so fucking ugly on the inside?"

"It's like every time I leave my house I give up my right to being treated like a person."

Sigghhhhh. Welll, I know I'm scaring you. I'm scaring myself. I hope I'm scaring the Christian Fundimentalists. Peace and out. Look at the rest of the sight.

All [sic], obviously. I must really trust the internet to unearth and repost this material here. Of course lot of the above was made up; dreamed of it though I may have, I never wore capes to school dances, and I don't know how to scuba dive. Thankfully, I was one of the more internet-savvy kids at my school; if anyone with an uncharitable soul had found this website, seventh and eighth grade might have been serious competitors for sixth grade's Worst Ever crown.

I was a silly kid who wanted bigger and darker things in my wonderful sheltered life. I had a bottle of nail polish, black with sparkles in it, called "Out All Night."

"Oh yeah, that sounds just like you," my new best friend said when I brought it over to her house for our sleepover the next weekend.


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