hey pretty

Ceci n'est pas une "dating blog."

Friday, February 16, 2007

Not Punk Rock Enough For This?

"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are."

There was a time in my life, before most of you knew me, when I solidly identified with certain counter-cultural, anti-establishment communities. I loathed "The Man", couldn't ever fathom having an office job, looked down on those poor saps confined to a cubicle all day, dyed my hair alarming colors, and listened to dissonant music. Then I graduated from college and realized that reality looks a lot different when you're faced with the challenge of applying your considerable intellect and skills to earning enough money to pay rent. I also realized that I look a lot better with brown hair.

As much as I appreciate the punk ethos and even admire people who have managed to create happy productive lives fighting the establishment, that lifestyle just isn't for me. But I doff my hat to those who live it, and continue to believe that societal change depends on the presence of certain radical forces that exist to create dialectical tensions.
All of this is leads in to reporting on my date with punk-rock banjo guy. It was pretty much your typical first date. Lots of getting to know you chit-chat, some awkward silences, some flirting. What was atypical was the diatribe I listened to about the origins of punk philosophy. I felt like I was receiving a lecture, an unnecessary one at that, because having read Lipstick Traces when I was 21, I am already down with the history of the French Situationists. But whatever, it's obscure cultural history, so I'll give him a pass on that one because one rarely goes into a situation assuming your date has a handle on that stuff.

Atypical as well was how mainstream this guy made me feel. Normally men in DC make me feel like an alterna-chick freak. I've never claimed to be a preppy. My family's background is mixed, my own parents are somewhat anachronistic in many ways, I've experienced a diversity of lifestyles and have traveled through many of my own puzzling incarnations. This guy seemed a little confused that my parents could be liberals who raised their child in a small rural New England town while maintaining a semi-affluent lifestyle. He wanted to assign them a "back to nature" hippy identity, which I couldn't let him do. As much as the punks I've known in my day have tried to avoid being identified by mainstream notions of "normalness", he seemed just as apt to filter the information that I provided him with through his own biased set of assumptions.
So it ironic that a date with Mr.-Punk-Rock-counter-culture sparked a debate about identity-politics, or is it simply par for the course? I can't decide. Nor can I decide how hot I am to recreate the experience. When the date was good, it was good. But I don't like it when people try to label me as a certain "type" of person. I guess we're all guilty of it, and I strive to remember daily that everyone, including Mr. Punk-Rock-counter-culture can't be neatly assigned to pre-assigned cultural identities, no matter how many niche-specific signifiers they decorate their bodies with.

I know labels are comforting. Calling somebody "indie rock" for example, gives you some clue about their personality, but not the whole picture, as I explained to Mr. Punk Rock when trying to explain to him why I don't think I care for online dating. But it's such a convenient and ultimately empty way of experiencing your fellow man. That was the final great lesson I learned in my 20's, and of course it came about after dating two guys back-to-back who I had little in common with.

Mr. Punk Rock expressed concern that I am too young for him, which again was weird because most of the guys I date tend to be younger. Truth be told, I've been looking for an older man for some time. Now I'm not certain if age has anything to do with anything.
The date ended with me explaining that it was late and that I should go, while he opted to order another beer for himself. After a brief drunk driving lecture, I have him a kiss on the cheek and he pulled me in for a hug. It was good as far as hugs go. More intimate than the ones I've experienced with TT.

The verdict: I'm not sure I care for his personality, and although he isn't all that good-looking, there's something about him that's attractive. He appeals to my inner-rebel in a way that I can't yet identify. Or maybe it was just nice to have a man flirt with me and buy me Anchor Steams.

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Blogger Jason said...

There is very little that is more un-punk than explanations of "punk" or espousals of "punk ideology." I always thought that the Catch-22 irony of considering oneself to be a punk is that you are not supposed to indulge in the luxury of self-awareness.

Example: Paying $22 for a Sid Vicious t-shirt is not punk.

9:43 PM  
Blogger Michael J. West said...

I agree with what Jason said; however, I hasten to add that if our situations were reversed, I'd be very wary of a dude who puts too much stock in the writings of Greil Marcus. Even for someone who calls himself a "pop music intellectual," that's a bit pretentious.

5:16 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Punk was all about being young, frustrated, alienated, and angry, and people who try to turn it into some kind of complex belief system will never get it. I agree with both Jason and Michael. I'm sorry to say the guy sounds like a bit of a boor. :(

10:19 PM  
Blogger Ryane said...

This was a funny post...and Jason, your comment about the T-shirt is hilarious. I do think that Mr. Punk Rock guy does sound a bit green around the gills. Was he just trying to hard b/c he was nervous??

3:09 AM  
Blogger Hey Pretty said...

I agree with all of the above. I think I was just trying to maintain an open mind. Obviously not dazzled.

3:26 PM  

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