I Was Never Cool in School…

Inspired by:Underground” (1995) from the Ben Folds Five album Ben Folds Five

This song reminds me of high school, or more specifically, thinking about high school on the verge of my ten year high school reunion a while ago. It’s the song’s opening lines:

I was never cool in school
I’m sure you don’t remember me
And now it’s been 10 years
I’m still wondering who to be
But I’d love to mix in circles, cliques, and social coteries, that’s me
Hand me my nose ring (Can we be happy?)
Show me the mosh pit (Can we be happy?)
We can be happy underground

“Underground,” written by Ben Folds

Aside from the nose ring*, I feel like this describes high school me pretty well. A mostly unforgettable existence where I was fairly known among the various social groups hung out with but not known to the wider population of the school. Part of this was due to being one of 2,000 kids or so in the school, and among the 700 or so kids in my graduating class, but also because I just didn’t care about being popular. For that reason, I kind of hated high school (in retrospect) and fled Utah because I didn’t want to simply be a “townie” that followed everyone to the University of Utah or whatever.

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Shame and Guilt and Fear…

Inspired by: Cigarette” (1997) from the Ben Folds Five album Ben Folds Five

How old were you when you first realized that your parents were human? That they weren’t some weird, bigger version of you that seemingly knew everything somehow and that they existed before you did and had flaws and struggles and long-term trials to be the best version of themselves that they could be?

This realization comes early for a lot of kids. It doesn’t take much to pierce that image honestly. I can’t pinpoint an exact date myself, but I’m sure it happened long before the incident I’m going to talk about in this blog. Like the first time that I “outscored” my dad in out nightly Jeopardy! watch. Or I came to him with AP Calculus homework that I didn’t understand and he had to read my textbook to refresh his memory how to do what I was asking. Or our struggles with poverty growing up, though a lot of that was pretty well shielded from us kids growing up until we got a little older and realized just how poor we were.

But the day that I fully realized my dad was truly human occurred sometime in 2005, when I learned something that managed to shock me in such a way I collapsed to the floor crying in my sisters’ apartment and ultimately led me to finally leave the Mormon church. It was the night I found out that my dad was a smoker.

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Juggling and Magic Tricks

Inspired by: Best Imitation of Myself” (1995) from the Ben Folds Five album Ben Folds Five

The song that inspired it all!

This song is probably among the top ten if I was to ever do a ranking of Ben Folds songs. It is perhaps one of the most impactful songs from his catalogue that had lasting consequences on my life. I’ve mentioned my history with this song briefly before:

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Inspired by: “Thank You For Breaking My Heart” (2012), from the Ben Folds Five album The Sound of the Life of the Mind

For the first entry in this series, I’m going to dig a bit into my own archives and revisit something from many years ago. You can follow that link to read the post I wrote way back in 2011 (almost to the day), but most of the following is (hopefully) going to be a condensed version of the same story, because that monstrosity is over 1,800 words (and I want to keep these things much shorter).

So, let’s talk about Hooka.

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