It took me two days to read Manson’s autobiography. That is Marilyn Manson the singer, not the cult leader. He talks a lot about the machine we call society that brings up generation after generation of children to be impressionable, but when somebody exposes them to ideas different from the ones they were supposed to imprint on, it becomes a problem. The bigger issue is that brainwashed kids turn into spineless adults unable to assume responsibility for their own lives and actions.
I often think back on my childhood and this book took me there again. I focus on this incident during a school trip in 6th or 7th grade which is to this day one of the most humiliating things that happened to me. One of the more popular girls in my class was asking me to go buy her a soda. For some reason she could’t do that herself- the reason being that she needed to validate herself and assert her social standing above others by using me as a stepping stone.
After I refused her a few times, she kept insisting and I walked my defeated ass to the fridge to buy her that damned bottle of soda. As I pulled once, twice and the fridge door won’t open, the third time I was left with the plastic handle in my hand. As I turned around everybody in the rest stop was laughing at me. I remember that moment like it’s a scene from a movie, the whole rest stop slowly rolling in my field of vision, like the camera rolls over a scene, to reveal two grade’s worth of kids laughing at me, standing there with the broken piece of plastic in my had. Now, I kind-of wish I still had it. One of the nicer girls decided to help me out and show me that the fridge had a sliding door. Idiot.
Curiously though, when I think of that moment, more often than not I think of the bitchy girl forcing me to serve her, rather than all the people laughing at me. Maybe I was so traumatized by it that I blocked the memory until it was far away enough to not make me blush anymore. I remember the conversation and her insistence on me doing this thing for her, I remember and hating myself how much of a pushover I was. This wasn’t something that came naturally to me- I’m not much of a leader, but I am definitely not the subservient type. This was something I was taught by the world around me and by the fact that it represented a safe way out of difficult situations- the coward’s way out. I’ve since learned that the hard path is much more interesting, if not always rewarding.
At some point while I was in middle school, one of my sister’s friends was trying to teach me how to fit in and become one of the popular girls- she was one of the popular girls in her school and was about two years older than me so I had information straight from the source. Her advice- lie about who you are, which try as I might, I never really got the hang of. Under her influence I tried quite hard to get into the popular elite of my class, but failed miserably for a while and didn’t really care about it much during the last two years of middle school. My sister and her friend lost touch after a few months. She got married a while ago because she got pregnant (my sister also got pregnant, but on purpose and she’s not married).
These are the things that gave me stomach aches and sweaty palms while I was forcing myself to do them, while I was trying to find a way to pour myself into the mold that so many people around me seemed to fit into so easily. To be honest, their pattern was never going to be enough for me. At some point in his book, Manson wonders what made him different from the people he grew up around, who were still stuck in the same hellish standard his art was trying to tear down. I don’t really remember asking myself that, I just concluded that I was different from most people and counted myself lucky for it. During high- school I started to accept and embrace my weirdness and found a few people who accepted me the way I was.
I’ve since had experiences in doing things I wasn’t comfortable with in relationships where the line between assertive and bitch is blurry as f**k. It’s a lot easier to stand your ground when a classmate you already resent is trying to force you into doing something you are not comfortable with, but having someone you love and respect do it seriously messes with you. The logic (if you can even call it that) here is that if their opinions seem valid most of the time, why not now as well, after all it’s a lot easier for me to assume that I am wrong, rather than someone who’s neurotic internal monologue is not available to me. I am just assuming that everybody has a neurotic internal argument. This always turns out leaving deep scars that are a lot more to handle than any confrontation with a suck- up classmate or coworker.
Slowly, but surely, I’ve been reaching the same conclusion as Manson- f**k if I’ll let anyone make decisions for me anymore. It’s my life to live and to ruin, even if I do end up a crazy cat lady living under the bridge and scaring teenagers by the time I’m thirty.