Being a teenager who was into punk and goth in the late 1980s wasn’t as commonplace as it is today.
I was labeled a freak, and being that freak teenager under the roof of my Mom-ster was bravery at its finest. Finding my individuality and voice – and keeping it – was important to me; I did all I could to keep it and most of all, my sanity.
My style, as my musical taste, was a menagerie of punk rock, post-punk, new wave, darkwave, and classic alternative. I loved wearing black – from head to toe. When forced to dye my hair a “normal” color, I opted for “mystical black”. Any piece of clothing I owned was a shade of black – if you’re a goth or a black clothing aficionado, you’ll understand what I mean.
Because the high school I attended was a small school (my graduating class had around 70), once my friends in the class two years ahead of me graduated, I was alone in my punk and goth awesomeness. I took a lot of shunning and ridicule for my looks, but I really didn’t care; those who mattered most accepted me for the individual I was and didn’t try to change me. I am blessed to still call them friends.
Mom-ster did not like that I went against the norm, even though she always argued the definition of the word normal – “What is normal? Who defines it?“
I hoped that somewhere deep down inside, she was proud of me for walking to the beat of my own drummer because she did raise me with that in mind. I think I went too far off the beaten path for her liking. I always told her, “I’m an artist! This is normal for me!“
After a while, I think she got used to it, even though she gave me a hard time about my hair and clothing. “Why can’t you just try to blend in? You’re fat, you already stick out like a sore thumb! Why draw even more attention to yourself?” I honestly don’t think she cared about what people thought about me, I think she cared more about how it reflected on her as a parent.
It’s really sad to say this: Mom-ster never saw past my body size, I’m convinced of that. Even today, she refers to me as her “fat daughter” and my sister as her “skinny daughter”.
Mom-ster had a myriad of insults for me that would come flying out of her mouth at any given moment: “Freak“, “The Blob“, “Platypus Feet“, “Ponderous Bulk“, “Bull in a China Shop“, “Useless as tits on a nun” – but the coolest thing she ever called me, thinking it was a biting insult – “Morticia“.
I know Mom-ster thought it was an insult because of the dripping sarcasm and hatred in which she would speak. I never cared how mean or nasty she would say it. I always cracked a sarcastic grin at her when I would hear her (loud and shrill) voice call me Morticia.
At times she would smack me with whatever she had within her reach to hit me with when I gave her one of my sarcastic grins or my infamous eye rolls. She even beat me with a bunch of celery once, to which I died laughing as I was on the floor of the kitchen taking my beating. I’ve never been good at keeping a poker face – ask anyone in my family.
Even though Mom-ster meant calling me Morticia to be an insult and to break me down, as with most of the things she said to me, to this day, I still smile, this time on the outside, remembering those times.
Most of Mom-ster’s words were harsh and crippling to my psyche – in the back of my mind, those tapes sometimes rewind and play in my head. I’m shocked I came out of my early life with my sanity still intact. Music was (and still is) my one true solace in times of strife.
The following playlist was one of my “sanity” mixtapes from my teen years – I labored for days and hours making this tape, waiting for the right songs (which I didn’t already have recorded) to play on the radio to hit record. Those were the days…
- It’s My Life – Talk Talk
- Send Me An Angel – Real Life
- It’s A Sin – Pet Shop Boys
- Things Can Only Get Better – Howard Jones
- Leave In Silence – Depeche Mode
- Running – Information Society
- The Future’s So Bright – Timbuk 3
- The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum – Fun Boy Three
- Let Me Go – Heaven 17
- Break My Stride – Matthew Wilder
- Eyes of a Stranger – The Payolas
- A Million Miles Away – The Plimsouls
- Voices Carry – Til Tuesday
- Change of Heart – Cyndi Lauper
- Oblivious – Aztec Camera
- Rip It Up – Orange Juice