can't take goth outta the girl

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I recently came across a an article by Dave Simpson called, "I Have Seen The Future - And It's Goth," and it had me smiling and nodding my head and getting all nostalgic with warm, fuzzy remembrances of my teen years.

So, here it is. I was a goth kid in highschool. I know this conjures up some seriously bizarre and comical images for many, but right off, I want you to know that yesteryear's goths were very different from a lot of the "goths" that hang out at the malls these days.

Gray?! Must've been summer. I was reading a bat book. Seriously.

For starters, I don't even recall referring to ourselves as "goth." We didn't hang out at malls or loiter in public places very much at all because a) the malls didn't carry the clothes we liked and b) because we simply didn't want the attention. We didn't want to be stared at, feared, misunderstood, or whatever. We wanted to just... be.

We were by no means a mafia, and especially not of the trenchcoat persuasion. We never once fantasized of who among the jocks, the cheerleaders and the preps we would dust if given the opportunity. In fact, we scarcely noticed the jocks and the cheerleaders and the preps, and aside from the occasional snicker or muttered "nice hair, freak," as we passed by them in the cafeteria, they more or less were unaware of us, too.

There was no white facepaint, no black lipstick nor black eyeliner crosses on our foreheads. We did however dye our hair all the colours of the rainbow, we did prefer skull rings over class rings, and we did wear the prettiest, pointiest, and priciest Fluevog's you ever did see (and paired with my favourite black pvc skirt... it was a look to die for).

We hung as a very small group (and by small I mean never less than 2 but rarely more than 5 or 6), and we sat in the alcoves by the drama classroom, or on the school lawns in good (but not too sunny) weather, reading classic literature or scribbling in our journals and sketchbooks.

Instead of talking about boys in the girls bathroom or doing doughnuts in the school parking lot during spares, we doubled-up on photography classes, coveting our darkroom time. (ok, I doubled-up on photography classes for a boy... but somehow managed to become a pretty good photographer anyway). We shared our headphones & mix tapes religiously with one another, listening to Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, Ministry, NIN & Skinny Puppy, and spent every last dime on pricey import records, a non-stop flow of concert tickets, head-shop t-shirts and books of poetry.

Drugs? Well then how could we afford those pricey import records?

We did not discuss Satan, had no desire to worship Satan nor carry out the evil wishes of Satan. We were a kind, gentle, quiet bunch who revered the likes of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Baudelaire, and William Shakespeare (and the Queen of The Damned herself -- Ms. Anne Rice, but of course).

Allow me to pull some quotes from Simpson's article that ring true of my own experience:

"Most goths are well educated, however. They hardly ever drop out and are often the best pupils. The subculture encourages interest in classical education, especially the arts. I'd say goths are more likely to make careers in web design, computer programming... even journalism."

This is true. Intellectual pursuits were cool to us; important to us. We wanted to learn about different authors, composers, different languages. We couldn't wait for university. For as long as I can remember, I craved a career and a lifestyle that was slightly left of normal, or at least involved some level of personal creativity. The few fellow goths that I've kept in touch over the years have almost all pursued a career in some form or other of the arts. Myself included.

"I reached for the hair crimpers, painted my bedroom black and scrawled the name of gothy band the Birthday Party on the door so it looked like blood."

Mostly true. I crimped. A LOT. And I did briefly go through a Birthday Party phase, though I never would have scrawled their name, or any other band name, in letters resembling blood... it would have grossed me out. Seemed like something someone into Iron Maiden should do, not me.

"...goth is a non-violent subculture. They're like hippies. I don't know any goths who are into graveyard destruction or cat slaughtering. They like their graveyards and they love their cats."

TRUE. We photographed tombstones cast in shadows. A visit to Notre Dame in Paris was a dream come true and literally brought me to tears when I entered it's doors. We were completely anti-gun and anti-violence of any kind (though I did have a necklace with a gun hanging from it). We didn't torture or sacrifice animals in the names of our dark deities. Rather, we were concerned with animal rights and sustaining a cruelty-free lifestyle (outside of our leather Fluevogs of course), and strangely, cats always seemed to bite me, so my heart belonged to my Doberman instead. I think the most violent I ever got was writing a poem about crushed flower petals and the ache of a bruised soul after a break-up.

"It never entirely leaves you," says Unsworth. "I still look at the world of beer boys and Tories and feel a beating heart of darkness."

So very true. I still feel a twinge when I see pointy black shoes adorned with buckles, I was thoroughly appalled at Tom Cruise being cast as Lestat, and when Bauhaus toured a few years ago, I made sure I had tickets for both nights. I have not 1, but 2 Hot Topic Frequent Buyer cards on the go in my wallet, still favour t-shirts with skull designs, rushed to the theater to see Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, and were it not for my little white dog who sheds 24/7 (and twice on Sundays where possible), I would still induldge myself in a wardrobe rich in black content.

So, I think perhaps it's true: you can take the girl outta goth, but you can't take goth outta the girl. In fact at this very moment, I have the uncontollable urge for this first time in years (despite my Hello Kitty desktop and pink nailpolish), to play some Siouxsie whilst composing a poem involving ravens, goblets of blood-red wine, and silvery, moonlit garden paths.


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