Oh my God, was I in love with the show My So-Called Life! I loved everything about it. I loved the angst and the smart-girl lead character. I loved her bright red hair and Jordan Catalano, her gorgeous, mysterious kind-of-boyfriend-kind-of-not. And, of course, I loved all of the talking. Oh, the talking!
I think what I liked most of all, though, was how real it felt. It was as dramatic as any teenage show needs to be, but there was more truth to it than most shows I know. What felt most honest to me was the tug of different groups of friends.
The main character, Angela, had her new cool friends and her old nerdy friends, and she was moving over to be in the cool group. The nerds were getting left behind. I remember Rayann was the name of her cool new best friend but, to be honest, I don’t even remember the name of her old best friend. She was the forgettable one. She never got the fun story lines or the interesting plot twists. She was relegated to the sidelines.
Today, I feel like that old best friend who is in the process of getting ditched. I feel a bruising sense that I don’t belong in this city where I live, Seattle. I feel like I’m in high school again and I am one of those nerdy friends. Forgettable. I am a goody-goody whose voice is not a siren call to fun, but a nag. I am worried that I will be left on the sidelines and replaced by others who promise good times and endless possibility.
I thought I had moved beyond my nerdom. I had earned my stripes. Guess what guys? I’m cool. I know my bands and I have the T-shirts to prove it. I like to go out. I’m in on your jokes. I get the references. I hadn’t felt like the nerd in a long time.
I moved to Seattle nearly seven years ago, and I genuinely like this place. I love the liberal attitude here. I love the views, the mild weather, my great friends and the good food. Aside from my dislike of skiing, biking, kayaking and basically all things related to REI, I felt like I fit in pretty well here. But recent events are causing my love affair to fade, and I hate it!
You see … I don’t smoke pot. I tried it a few times in college and I never really liked it. I guess I just figured that as I got older, that stuff didn’t matter much anymore. And it hadn’t. For years and years. In fact, I never even noticed that I didn’t smoke pot because it so rarely even came up.
Then I moved to Seattle, and I realized how many people here do smoke.
Ok. I had to readjust. People smoke pot here. A lot. Fine. No big deal. I got used to it. I still don’t smoke, but if I go to a party where my kids’ friends’ parents are smoking pot, I’m not shocked anymore. I got it. It’s cool. I’m cool, right?
I even voted to legalize it because I really don’t have a big problem with people smoking it. My views have mellowed, and I do see it more like wine or beer. Also, I had a huge problem with all of these lovely Seattle mothers and fathers smoking without a thought as to where their marijuana was coming from or who might be getting hurt because of it. (Here’s a hint … they live in Mexico.) So, I wanted it to be legal and more legitimate. Bring it into the open. Let people buy it above-board. Make it safe and fair for all. So it’s cool.
I’m cool, right?
But then there was a neighborhood holiday party where it felt like most people there were talking about getting high and my 50-plus-year-old neighbor was saying she was almost sad that it was legal now because, “ … you can’t tell who’s cool anymore.”
My sweet little old gray-haired neighbor was dissing me! Let me repeat that: My neighbor who goes to Silver Sneakers at the Y every morning was calling me uncool.
What the what!?! Well I am sorry Bertha*, but we can’t all be as cool as your Silver Sneakers friends and smoke up with you after our glaucoma appointments!
Then came the time that I had to speak up to a friend in front of her other (and by ‘other’ I mean ‘cooler’) friend who was joining her. I hate confrontation and I was so nervous it made me shake but I couldn’t keep quiet. I realized that my friend was going to smoke pot and then drive home. Well, I know that she wouldn’t treat drinking and driving the same way so I told her that. Luckily, she wasn’t angry with me and we’re fine. But, it definitely did not make me feel like I was one of the cool kids.
So, there it is Seattle. I don’t smoke and now everyone knows it. I hope we can still be friends. I mean … I’m still cool, right?
By the way … the nerd friend … her name was Sharon. I had to look it up.
*Author’s Note: My neighbor’s name has been changed to protect her identity also to make her sound older because I’m still mildly pissed.
Stephanie Olson is a mother of two boys who lives and writes in Seattle. She believes her golden rule in parenting “Just wipe it off on your pants!” will be her epitaph someday. It has gotten us through pretty well thus far! Read more of Stephanie's work on her blog, Ma Swell Vie.