My Sociology final:

I can’t remember the last time I felt like I had a brilliant idea that quickly turned on me until after I put this assignment together. The task was simple: violate a social norm. After I looked up what a norm was (Norm: Expectations and rules for proper conduct that guide the behavior of group members.) I set out to pick one that I could violate. Picking a norm for this assignment proved harder than I thought it would be. Despite the fact that I’m unknowingly bound by norms on a day to day basis. For example; don’t eat with your mouth open, cover your mouth when you yawn, brush your teeth, say “excuse me” when trying to move past someone, don’t laugh when someone you’re supposed to care about makes themselves look like an idiot, don’t burp, fart, or sneeze in peoples faces, be polite, the 10 commandments, my companies employee handbook, etc. Almost every part of my life can be categorized as some sort of norm. I began to feel oppressed, brainwashed, captive and betrayed by society. All this time I thought I was unique, a rebel per se, but I was like everyone else: a sheep amongst the herd just following the norms of life without questioning why. I decided today or someday in the near future would be the day to challenge one of these norms. I understand some of these norms are essential to the day to day business of being human for example; the section in my employee handbook on sexual harassment, that commandment about not killing anyone, those signs that indicate you shouldn’t smoke inside a building, there’s really too many to list, but rest assured they are all imperative to human survival and often times designed to keep us out of prison. Deciding on which norm to violate I had only to wait for the opportune moment to strike and prove that at times ditching the herd is necessary.

That opportune moment came in the form of a regular work day. It was a Monday  and I had a sudden burst of Sociological inspiration while getting ready for work. I would wear my clothes (both pants and shirt) inside-out and unpressed. I chose to violate this norm for two reasons: 1.) People usually expect you to go into work looking sharp and professional and 2.) It would re-establish my self proclaimed stance as an all around nonconformist social rebel. After a quick phone call to my supervisor to give him a vague heads up on my experiment I made my way to work. Weighing the magnitude of my choice in norm violation on my way to work I decided that the two outcomes would be that I’d be seen as a.)  A complete fool, or b.) The epitome of fashion; a visionary like Kanye West and his popped collar polo shirts, Gwen Stefani and her eye catching outfits, and Sarah Palin with her $150,000 wardrobe and iconic eyewear. I hoped to be seen as the latter, but knew it would rely solely on my ability to brush off the forthcoming looks and comments from coworkers unfamiliar with what it feels like to swim against the current. Wearing reversed jeans who’s pockets looked like hanging pancakes against my legs and a reversed Guess dress shirt I would have to open up the minds of the professional business world to my radical fashion statement. A fashion statement that’s been hiding on the other sides of our clothes for decades.

I’ve worked for the cable company for three years. Although I provide Online Support, my cubicle is nestled in a call center full of customer service professionals. The setting is loud, often hectic and everyone knows everyones business. As with any office environment the way a person looks is usually the subject of many breakroom discussions. That said, a guy walking in with his clothes wrinkled and reversed would quickly rise to the top of everyones conversational priority list. My workplace is relatively lenient when it comes to clothing. A brief look through our handbook will reveal that a person is “expected to” come to work dressed in a professional manner, but from what I’ve seen in my three years experience is that just showing up with some form of clothing on will suffice. Obviously guidelines are in place to keep one from arriving to work in what they’d wear to a raunchy beach party, but this is simply to prevent any lawsuits. By comparison what I was doing would technically be socially acceptable if not embraced as “thinking outside the box.” The keyword being “should” as in this stunt should fall into a grey area all while avoiding any legalities.

On my way into the building I came across a complete stranger who didn’t seem to notice my new look and walked passed me unphased. The moment of truth had arrived and the door to the call center beckoned my entrance. Would I be taken in as a fashionable trend setter unafraid of breaking free from the norms of appearance? Or would I be shunned as a complete moron with no sense of fashion? Again, I remained optimistic. My walk into the call center was met with no one so much as looking my way and I passed about 20 people. I figured this may be due to the fact that I don’t socialize so therefore, I was no more then a moving piece of bland office furniture to these people. As I sat at my desk I wondered if anyone had noticed me and what they were thinking. My cubicle neighbor arrived and with a look of utter confusion greeted me by asking if I was hungover, I wasn’t. For the next few hours 4 people asked if I knew if my clothes were reversed, 2 asked if I was ok, and 2 chuckled as I waited in the breakroom for a fresh cup of coffee. For the most part everyone I came across looked generally confused. As I ate my lunch in the breakroom 1 person in particular ignored my clothing altogether and treated me as if nothing was out of place. That afternoon I realized that the odds for breaking down a fashion wall with the breaking of a social norm were against me. No one voiced disagreement over my new found use for clothing, but no one endorsed it’s idiosyncratic vision either. I went home uncomfortable, awkward and socially defeated.

There is a paradox in our society when it comes to my wardrobe. If a celebrity wears some oddball outfit at the right time, it’s immediately embraced as the next big thing in fashion and not seen as the violation of a social norm. However, if someone like myself who is also human, but not in the public spotlight tries to break from the mold everyone laughs. My determination to appear advanced by wearing my clothes inside-out came from my deductive reasoning on watching the media cover celebrities and various forms of “fashion.” Social norms apply to everyone don’t they? Furthermore, this experiment wasn’t on what could be considered an integral rule of society, I didn’t show up to work with a loin cloth. I bet if Johnny Depp wore his clothes backwards no one would ask him if he was ok. At that moment it hit me, the violation of norms is almost impossible within the celebrity demographic. Allow me to explain, let us assume Marilyn Manson meets President Bush and rather than shake his hand Mr. Manson decides to lick him on the cheek. The headlines would read “Marilyn Manson Licks POTUS” but 99.9% of the coverage would contain an underlying bias that would imply Manson was just being normal and him licking the President was not a big deal. Now to take that a step further, let’s assume I went out with my clothes reversed and met Mandy Moore and proceeded to lick her on the cheek. The headlines would read “Disoriented Man Assaults Mandy Moore: Police say he wore his clothes inside out.” This assignment made me realize that Society is messed up, but until the day comes when I can lick Mandy Moores cheek without fear of persecution I will continue looking for a job where I can wear my clothes inside-out everyday.

Advertisements

For some reason all through high school I tried to grow my hair. I was emo, I had the Blink-182 wardrobe, the cd’s a guitar and the aesthetic, however, I didn’t have the hair. I tried a few times, but I’d always get tired of trying to style my work in progress and break out in really bad acne, and acne was surely not emo. I needed the hair, I needed it to emphasize my rocking out, and my overall hopeless state of perpetual and unexplainable sadness. This was a strange time in all our lives.

I was looking through my cd’s the other night and I came across a few of the first cd’s I ever bought. They consisted of various Saves the Day, Blink-182, and Ataris records. It was emo, in fact if I remember correctly the record store where I bought them specifically had them in their “emo” section with a sad face and a tear within the “o.”

The year was 2002 and that was the year emo consumed everything and everyone I knew. The scene had been steadily growing thanks to such emo-pioneers like Blink-182 and New Found Glory(some of you may argue this was pop-punk, but you’re wrong.) who opened the door for every band that came into our cd players for the next 3 years. Before the rave thing got big(again, because I am old enough to remember it’s first incarnation.) and before incoherent noise driven indie bands took over your cd collections and wardrobes there was emo, which basically paved the way for indie, it was(unfortunately) the only logical step to take after emo cried it’s last tears. For me it was always something else entirely. I was shy, awkward and eager to find deeper meaning in my high school life. So, basically I was everyone else who embraced this “emo” thing because they felt alienated. Sure, some of us went uber-emo and what everyone else considered borderline gay by adopting Dashboard Confessional, but at it’s core that guys music was oddly the most accurate description of my high school days. I don’t know anyone who lived those days who didn’t at least like one song.

To understand what it felt like you have to understand the following 2 statements:

1.) It’s difficult to explain this scene to say, perhaps, a metal head, believe me I’ve tried. They don’t get it, anyone may feel the same way we felt towards their respective scene, but from the emo perspective it’s hard to imagine how a metal band singing about decapitating heads and burning demons registers on any personal emotion based level.

2.) We are all products of a form of music that consist of one heartbroken person singing their lives away about another person who obviously doesn’t care they exist. No matter what your musical leanings, your favorite song in theory, is probably about somebody else.

These days I can pop in any Ataris or Saves the Day record now and instantly be taken back to the countless nights spent locked in my room with nothing but the sound of those songs to help me make sense of my overly self-complicated life. I remember I had one for everything and everyone that mattered. Anything that happened to me between Winter of ’01 and summer of ’03 could be easily chronicled by Kris Roe and Chris Conley. In fact those two individuals are the only people who’d probably ever understand me. Well, them and Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, but who doesn’t relate to them?

For a long time I thought I was the only one who had reached such an emotive response to music, particularly this odd blend of soft rock. I thought it was my secret, as if I knew the hidden message. Although it’s musical blasphemy to compare Nirvana to any band that came after them the truth is emo was our Grunge. Everyone likes Nirvana, with the exception of the few people who don’t like Nirvana simply because everybody else does. Everybody liked emo, even people who listened to rap liked emo. At the end of the day they didn’t want to hear a rhyme about slappin’ bitches and gettin’ paid, they wanted to hear about the cheatin’ ho that did ‘em dirty and how she ain’t nuthin’ but a bitch. Emo just took what everyone already liked about music and applied it to everything. I didn’t realize it then, but I never really needed to grow my hair at all.

On Saturday April 19th 2008 I embarked on a mission to summon the ever elusive Green Fairy of the alcohol world. I looked online and found my local Bevmo sold Absinthe. In case you’ve never heard of this liquor you may click here for some nifty info. In 2007 Absinthe became legal again in the U.S. In 2008 Alfonso decided to buy a bottle.

The first thing I noticed was that Absinthe smells like herbal black licorice but the bottle looks nice perched atop any piece of furniture.

It was the night of a friends going away party and I had important research to do: What mixes with Absinthe? The short answer would be: NOTHING.

So it was decided that swigs, shots and sips would be the way to go.

If anyone reading this is curious as to why nothing mixes with Absinthe? It’s because unlike any other alcohol you may have tried in your life Absinthe lingers. The taste is so horrid and potent you almost want to spit it out. Although it doesn’t burn like Bacardi 151 does, it makes you feel quite literally like someone numbed your entire face. This numb feeling may be attributed to it’s sedative properties.

The night begins with shots at my house and a failed attempt to mix Absinthe with Champagne(Hemingway Style) that ends up both smelling and tasting like fart.

What happened at the party is irrelevant. What happened after that party is the stuff that speaks volumes for what kind of drunk I am, especially under the influence of (presumably) hallucinogenic alcohol.

In all honesty I didn’t just consume Absinthe that night because it’s so gross the thought alone of that being the only option is enough to make me gag. There was beer, wine, and if I remember correctly someone traded me a swig of Rum for some Absinthe.

Anyhow, a few friends and I went back to my house to continue drinking, talk and listen to music. The night progressed, people came and went, empty bottles began to decorate the dining room table and suddenly I found myself sitting alone on my couch staring into space. It is at this particular point in time that I felt the full effects of the evenings alcohol. I was indeed as the Absinthe bottle suggest – Lucid. Not drunk, not off balance, but clear headed….really clear headed. I thought about this new sensation for a minute I stopped and looked around for the green fairy then an idea came to me – I needed closure.

“I want to break a guitar” I said.

When I was in high school all I wanted to do was well, Rock. Yes, I wanted to be a musician, rockstar, cultural icon, etc. Obviously since I had to pay for that bottle of Absinthe and I am sitting at home drinking it those dreams never quite came true. I have 4 guitars laying around and I knew at that very moment that by the end of this night there’d only be 3.

I bolted for my room to rummage through my closet for my very first guitar a Squire Stratocaster that I gutted and installed a Seymour Duncan Pick up on. I looked at it one last time and headed for the front door.

My friends all disagreed with this idea noting the sentimental value of the guitar as reason not to destroy it. I argued that was Thee reason to destroy it.

I could not allow myself to be talked out of this, let alone held back. Tonight a guitar would be broken and dreams would be laid to rest.

After about 5 minutes of resistance from those around me I made it outside and David followed me with a camera.

If you would be so kind as to look directly to the left of my raised hand you will see the small blur that is my guitar in flight.

Why didn’t I just traditionally break a guitar, against the floor?
I tried, but the impact of the guitar hitting solid concrete sent a rather painful wave of shock up my arm. I would’ve made a lousy Rockstar.

After about five minutes a maniacal laughter, 4 Guitar tosses and a splintered palm I had accomplished my goal. I had broken a guitar.

I dragged the instrument back inside, but no one seemed as interested anymore as they were when I was trying to get them to let me break it. In fact I clearly remember going unnoticed.

So did I see the infamous green fairy of alcohol folklore? No. Is Absinthe worth a try? Hell No unless you enjoy dipping your black licorice in Jager, but it is a different kind of drunk. In the end I found closure at 4am on a cool and quiet Spring morning at the intersection of Kewen and Goleta, surrounded by an audience comprised of my neighbors dogs and cats I became Rock n’ Roll incarnate.



I often have moments of clarity or all around irrationality in my drunken stupors. These moments(the clear ones) are rare, but they do occur and if you know me well enough you know what I am talking about.

I decided to start keeping track of the things I’ve learned as well as done utterly wrong while being drunk, buying alcohol, ordering drinks and trying to function like a normal person while under the influence.

Alcohol makes me believe I can dance.
I cannot dance. I have a hard enough time coordinating my walking when I drink(most of you reading this have held me up.) yet somehow alcohol convinces me I have magic feet…no, no I don’t…dear god. I saw myself dance sober once and damn near laughed at myself.

People really don’t like it when you piss on their stuff.
cars, lawns, fences, sidewalks, dogs, plants, doors, garden gnomes, flowers, stairs, trash cans, chickens and driveways. Trust me I have pissed on all these things and have often had to run with my pants half down my legs because the owner came out screaming.

Asking girls for their numbers while drunk usually works.
in fact it’s never failed for me. My phone book is comprised of girls numbers I’ve collected while out drinking. If you are reading this ask yourself when I got your number. Thank you.

Bouncers can’t distinguish between the guy fighting and the guy trying to stop the guy who is fighting.
I don’t think I need to explain this.

Trying to maintain a “relationship” is impossible.
Allow me to explain. I once was seeing this girl who I didn’t really like, but it was convenient and she was a hopeless romantic. I didn’t dislike her, but she wasn’t the type of girl I’d seriously date(no she wasn’t fat or deformed.) anyway, eventually every time I saw her I was drunk, I had to be because I just didn’t like her as much as she liked me and the alcohol helped me tolerate her. In fact she never even knew I was drunk half the time or ever questioned why I always asked her to bring beer. This is a bad idea! never do this! I am warning you, no matter how tough life is – it’ll end horribly. People in this situation will have their revenge on you trust me. I’m not gonna elaborate on it any further because it’s embarrassing, but you can ask me and I may tell you. (David and Jimbo, you know what I am talking about so don’t ask.)

Ugly people seem appealing.
It’s true. If you find yourself in this situation stop drinking immediately and for gods sake don’t get her number. She will text, She may even call…and you will feel pretty dumb for feeling so desperate while intoxicated. This also applies vice versa.

An awkward morning is far better than a night alone.
With the exception of the last two points.

Bartenders do not like it when you order a drink they don’t know how to make and then proceed to tell them how to make it.
This has yet to work, ever. In fact one blatantly refused to serve me.

I hate everyone.
Well no not really, but I tend to dislike people in my way, people who talk about nothing, and people with shitty taste in anything. Many of you have witnessed this, many of you have been on the receiving end. I apologize. Some of you consider this my normal sober behavior..I apologize for that too.

Jumping fences seems easier, but ends poorly.
David and Yesenia, I know you know what I am talking about.

Alcohol sparks ingenuity: See pic below.


Spicy foods help.
When I turned 21 I got hammered..seriously hammered. I got home, passed out on my bed and the next morning my room smelled like someone had spilled a bottle of vodka on my carpet. My mom came in and asked if I wanted breakfast to which I(being hungry) happily agreed. She left me a plate of food on the dinning room table and left for the mall. I crawled from my room to the table, took one bite and had to throw it away. Why? I almost choked on how hot it was. She probably used every chili and spice in our kitchen and asked the neighbors for a bottle of hot sauce to top it off. I couldn’t get the burning to stop for 3 hours and that was from one bite! My hangover was either neutralized instantly or my body changed it’s problem priorities to the sudden scorching of all my taste buds. Needless to say my hangover was gone.

This is a given, but cellphones and alcohol do not mix…ever.
You may break it, lose it, drop it in water or if you’re Jimbo drop it in your drink. If you don’t do any of that you’ll surely end up with more emotions than you are prepared to deal with.

Alcohol and heat do not mix.
You will not be able to get properly drunk and you will be miserable within 2 hours from the heat.

This is all I can think of in the hour it took me to watch the season finale of House and hang out in my newly air conditioned room. I suggest you drop by this summer and hang out in my cool(literally) room. I’d also like to propose you share your own learnings or memories from our or your drunken nights. Goodnight.