Sunday, February 13, 2005

The Fed Bash / Lerner Hall, Columbia University / Feb. 12, 2005

It’s 11:30 on a Saturday night, and I’m standing on a dance floor in the basement of the student center at Columbia. Girls in fishnets, mini-skirts and pointy bras dance with boys in leather pants and wife beaters. Scotty the Blue Bunny is trotting around terrorizing homophobes, the S&M club is tying people up, bottles of Rolling Rock cost two dollars and the cookies shaped like penises and vaginas are free, as are the condoms and lube. Lights are flashing, balloons are popping. The members of the band on stage are all wearing fez. The guy who sings backup and plays the melodica, maracas, kazoo and harmonica, is sporting biker shorts with what looks like several cucumbers stuffed in the crotch. My friend Matt, who is the guitarist, has fashioned a shirt out of an orange plastic Halloween Adventure shopping bag. Their songs have titles like “Anal Baby” and “Poopy In Your Pussy” and lyrics like “Morroco! Morrocco! Morrocco!” and “Sweet fruity Pez! Sweet fruity Pez! Sweet fruity Pez!”

I am having no fun at all.

When I was in college, I was an editor at The Fed, Columbia’s humor paper. We tried to be like The Onion or something, but failed miserably, mostly because our issues were too long and published too frequently, so we had to stuff them with crap. (I still consider this one of the best things I’ve ever written, though.) Also, most of the staff members were drunks. My friends, yes, but drunks nonetheless.

Once a year—sometimes twice a year—we threw this big party, the Fed Bash, to raise funds and generate publicity. The Fed Bash was always the highlight of my semester, not just because of all the work we put into it, but because it was one of the few times that I could feel comfortable getting silly and wild. Like, I used to wear a dog collar and pleather thigh-high boots to this thing. But there I was on Saturday feeling all out of place in my corduroys and hoodie, impatiently waiting for the band to get offstage so I could go home and get some work done. I looked around at all these people I used to be so close with and I just felt lost.

The DJ dropped Annie’s “Heartbeat,” and I started hopping up and down and singing along, but nobody else seemed to care. Then I remembered: these are normal people, not crazy music freaks like me. They don’t care about Pazz and Jop statistics and Pitchfork ratings and M.I.A. mash-ups. They don’t want to talk about whether the original version of “Heartbeat” is better than the Maurice Fulton remix. And neither did I when I was in college. Ok, that’s not completely true. I’ve been a crazy music freak since I was twelve. But at least when I was in college, my mind wasn’t completely consumed by music like it is now. I thought about literature and America and hegemony and structuralism and putting out a newspaper and maintaining a radio station. And boys. Which isn’t to say I don’t think about boys now, because I do. All the time!

Argh. I don’t know what I’m saying anymore. I do know that I’m realizing that part of my life is over. And that this is the sort of blog post I thought I’d never write. So I apologize.