Life is Sticky. Life is Sweet.

Life is Sticky. Life is Sweet.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

You're Never Too Old for Cartoons

I know all of you Peanut Butter & Jelly fans have been enjoying Cara's posts over the past few days, but there's been a nagging little voice in the back of your head, saying, "Hey, where's Amy? Gosh, I miss her gut-busting posts!" So, here's another gut-buster for you.

In the late 90s (circa 1997), I was 20, had been out of high school for two years, and was--for lack of a better term--more than a little directionless. I was messing around at OCC (aka Hooper High or Brick High School Jr.) and barely working at K-Mart. My days were taken up with sleeping as late as possible and scurrying out of the house before Dad came home from work for lunch (some days, I barely made it around the block, going in the opposite direction that Dad came, watching fearfully as Dad's black Toyota approached our driveway in my rear view mirror). Due to my lackadaisical attitude, tensions ran high in the house: Dad would rant about how I wasn't living up to my potential (STILL!!) and Mom would wring her hands and try to appeal to me to "do something."

One day, after sitting mutely through one of Dad's lunchtime talks (I had overslept and didn't make it to my friend's house in time), I was moping around the house, putting any food I could find into my face and wishing that everyone would just leave me alone. I didn't have class and my shift at the Big Red K didn't start for hours, so I turned on the TV. Now, MTV and I have never been friends, but today I paused just long enough to see this face looking back at me:

I don't care what anyone says. She looks like me as a cartoon.

Holy crap. That looks like me, I thought gleefully.

(Look, a plain, brunette with round black-framed glasses doesn't come along on TV all that much. I'll take a cartoon character.)

Yes, I had discovered Daria. She was sarcastic, had one friend, couldn't wait to get out of high school where everyone was popular/stupid/exactly the same and her family was . . . well, let's just say they were less than perfect. I had found my role model.

Pathetic? Absolutely. What 20-year-old wants to admit that her role model was a cartoon spin-off from Beavis and Butthead? But Daria was hysterical. It skewered high school and portrayed it like I remembered it. Daria's younger sister Quinn was so my sister Beth (in my eyes) that I had a hard time not snickering when Beth would talk, hearing Quinn's voice instead. Mom and Dad were hardly like Daria's parents, but the overly Type A personality mom on the show made me feel better about Dad and his inspirational little "chats" with me about my future.

As time went on, I grew up a little and my enthusiasm for Daria didn't wan. But I got a regular 9 to 5 job and started missing episodes. I met Erick in '98 and began spending all my extra time at his house. I tried to catch episodes during my weekend visits to South Jersey, but Erick didn't like Daria and we were usually so--uh--busy that we didn't watch a lot of TV anyway. And, once Erick and I got married in '99, I didn't even know if Daria was on anymore.

Skip ahead, skip ahead, skip ahead . . .

It's the middle of the night and I'm wide awake. I'm supposed to be doing my homework, but instead I'm watching TV (it's called a "break," Dad & Erick!). In fact, I was watching reruns of That 70s Show on TeenNick (nothing makes you feel older than contemporary shows as reruns. Realizing The Wonder Years was going to be on Nick at Nite after The Andy Griffin Show made me want to buy Geritol and denture cream, but that's another post. lol) Suddenly I saw this face looking back at me:

Yup, she still looks like me.

DARIA!!! She was back!!! Suddenly the fact I had missed the last three seasons of the original run didn't even matter. I was over-the-moon excited. My late teens-early 20s role model was back, better than ever. I was on Amazon faster than white on rice, only to discover that I'd probably have to ask Santa for Daria for Christmas.

In fact, I started my not-so-subtle campaign for the Daria DVDs the next night. Sitting on the couch with Erick, I turned to him and said, "Daria is coming out on DVD. Can you get it for me for Christmas?" I still can't believe he agreed. But that's what marriage is about, humouring your mate and buying them DVDs of cartoons they watched when they were a slacking, 20ish stoner with no motivation.

PS: I'm hoping that Erick knows I'm totally serious about the DVDs. I don't even care if they're my only gift. Daria rules!!


  1. I could never get into that Daria show. I think I caught a little of it now and then. Now I'm inspired to take another look. I can't think of a cartoon character that I'd indentify with. Although Will always assigns me the role of Velma when we play Scooby Doo.

    Also... you worked at Kmart?!?! I worked at Caldor. Jewelry counter. Life changing experience. Seriously.

  2. I worked at the K-Mart in Howell on Route 9. Nothing quite prepares you for life like shrugging on that red vest for a 7 - 9 hour shift and then having the residents of Lakewood (you know which ones I mean) try to haggle you on down on prices at the registers like you're in some Middle Eastern bazaar.
    Oy vay.
    ps I can't believe you could't get into "Daria." She seemed right up your alley too.

  3. Seriously?!?!?!??!?! What channel?!???!?!?


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