Wasted Youth

(Fast Times at Ridgemont High, 1982)

WASTED YOUTH

says the graffiti on the wall, and it could be true, I guess.

I mean, you took the glass elevator in the mall past the food court and the tiny butts in tiny embroidered-pocket jeans flushed up against the arcade machines. You wore checkered Vans and dolphin shorts, got the Van Halen or Blue Oyster Cult tickets from Damone. He told you straight: if you want to get anywhere, put on Side One of Led Zeppelin IV (which won’t really work; it’s too heavy). In the meantime, you can practice on a carrot stick in the lunchroom.

You smelled the mimeos; smelled the burger buns. Held them right up to your nose.

That hoodie? That hoodie was from Ocean Pacific.

It’s called Fast Times but the moment you rewound to watch again and again until the magnetic tape went loose and wrinkly inside its big black plastic VHS case is the one that is utterly decelerated: Phoebe Cates in a light mist, big wet red smile and shiny heart earrings and the red bikini she will undo from the front with one easy flick to reveal red-and-white breasts like candy bullseyes. It’s not real, but it’s as real as the slo-mo jacking in the bathroom next to a bottle of Scope you did, just like Brad is doing as he conjures it all in his head, a gift from his pirate uniformed fast food humiliation to you, forever and ever amen.

There were no GIFs back then, but your mind made one from this, and you’ve replayed it all these years, haven’t you? Albums used to have sides. You kind of remember that, too.