Previously: Fire In The Head
Before I introduce this week’s installment in the Sarah Murders the CanRock Cannon With Her Terrible Teenage Words, I feel the need to state, unequivocally, that I was an insufferable teenager. At least when it came to books and my “art.”
This was probably already clear for anyone who read or scanned the previous entry in this series — or anyone who has ever met me — but I felt that it needed to be said.
I was pleasant about most other things in life — or at least shy enough to hide all of my weird edges and flagrant cultural snobbery and random disagreeability. But when it came to literature I just couldn’t stop myself. I was, obviously, a genius, and I wasn’t about to temper my vision for anything. Especially not for an overly simplistic grade nine English assignment that I knew was brutally beneath me.
This is how I came to write “Birthday Boy” in the early days of 1997, just after I turned 15.
Although I technically attended high school in the dying days of Ontario’s destreamed grade nine, our classes had been unofficially separated into three levels. I had started the year in the ostensibly “advanced” English class but was moved to the comprehensive class after a series of bizarre fights with my teacher that involved, among other things, Joseph Fucking Conrad (of course) erupting into an all-out feud that made the learning environment pretty much impossible for everyone involved. Because the only thing worse than an insufferable teenage lit snob is an even more insufferable teacher who can’t be enough of a grownup to handle an insufferable teenage lit snob.
Anyway, my ego wasn’t taking it well. And so, when we did a unit on One Minute Mysteries and were asked to write simple, plucky versions of our own, I decided to reassert my genius. I deconstructed the form of the Two-Minute Mystery and I rebuilt it into whatever the hell is going on in this story.
What’s even more baffling and sad about this whole process is that this story isn’t actually based on the Junkhouse song. Nor is it based on the album of the same name. It is based on the commercial for the album that ran on MuchMusic that involved some spiel from Tom Wilson that does not actually appear in the lyrics of any song.
I got an A on the assignment, but my teacher commented that it was “Too deep.”
I thought this was glowing praise. Because I was an insufferable little piece of shit.
Not once during this entire process did anyone send me to the guidance counselor.