Sunday, March 05, 2006


Having nothing better to blog about, I decided to look in on my Interactive Johari Window. The results, such as they are, are reasonably interesting, and, at times, downright entertaining (Aside to Nick: Relaxed? Are you kidding me?!), but this one in particular nailed me to the wall:

50% of people think that Vila H. is sentimental.

Yes, it’s true. Despite my feeble efforts to cultivate a tough-as-nails exterior, I am, unquestionably, a marshmallow. No, make that a Twinkie. A moist, schmaltzy Twinkie.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I certainly have my ironic moments, and I will occasionally lapse into bleak cynicism, but these are merely decorative flourishes meant to distract the casual observer from the telltale reek of romanticism. It’s sad, I know, but it’s the best I can do.

But Vila, I hear some of you saying (or at least I think I do, which will suffice), what’s wrong with being sentimental? To which I will emphatically respond: nothing, nothing at all. Unless, that is, you had either the poor judgement or the extraordinary bad luck to have been born a Gen-Xer, in which case it is a crime punishable by death.

Let’s face it: sentimentality is, among my tribe, not in the least bit cool. (Well, it is if it’s dressed up in the finery of twee, but that’s really more of a Gen-Y thing, isn’t it?) No, we Xers have spent a lifetime being trained in the art of ironic distanciation, and to retain any vestige of mawkishness is to fail this training in the most spectacular way. In lieu of a strategically reversed baseball cap, I wear the conical crown of the dunce.

Still, I can’t help but note that my generation’s drug of choice was Ecstasy, which is quite possibly the least ironic drug on earth. Seriously, have you ever tried to maintain an ironic distance while tripping on Ecstasy? Unless you are a robot or pathologically evil, you just can’t do it.

Beneath the apparent contradiction lies a perfect kind of sense, since Ex provides the Xer with an excuse to be sentimental, much as alcohol provides hormone-addled teenagers with an excuse to make the first move. In both cases, the drug frees the taker from perceived social constraints, and gives them an easy out afterwards. No, of course I didn’t mean it when I said you were amazing and beautiful and I couldn’t stop hugging you. That was just the Ex talking. Dumbass.

But I always had the sense that they really did mean it, and that this accounts for why they did so goddamn much of the stuff. What a relief it must have been to have dropped the ironic facade for a few short hours, and to have enjoyed, even briefly, a sentiment-driven connection with others. And how equally depressing it must have been to come down, only to return to an aloof and disconnected world.

Fuck, I’m doing it again, aren’t I? Sorry...


bob said...

I enjoy an alarming number of romantic comedies, if that makes you feel better.

Den said...

hm.. romanticism and sentimentality put aside (since everybody has that, but hides it pretty deep down, it's a matter of trust) I totally agree with your sight on the Gen-X. Very interesting.