Me, I haven’t ever seen Goonies or Top Gun or most of the Star Wars movies all the way through—all I can say is that in the ‘80s, I was intensely focused on My Little Ponies, with occasional breaks for Little House on the Prairie. I didn’t even watch The Simpsons at the height of its popularity in 1989, although I did crush out on this kid Matt in junior high who was obsessed with them. Short little Czech-immigrant Matt in his oversized “Don’t have a cow, man” T-shirt was the epitome of hotness for a very select group of nerdy MBI girls.
But while my early crush failed to turn me onto The Simpsons, by 1995, the show had gotten more nuanced in my opinion and, more importantly, was in syndication, which meant that it played in Andy Perry’s dorm room every night at 7:30 p.m.
I suppose it played in my room down the hall too, but I was 18 and hadn’t really learned how to socialize yet, so it was convenient for me to just happen to be walking down the hall (which didn’t make any sense because Andy’s room wasn’t on the way to either the elevators or the girls’ bathroom) every night at 7:26.
Sometimes my roommate Amber would join us. If Amber was telling this story, she would probably say, “Sometimes my roommate Cheryl would join us.” The three of us or the two of us or the two of them would turn off the TV at 8 and have “deep conversations.” Andy was always pressing for increasing depth. It was hard to be deep when someone said, more or less, “Ready…set…say something deep!” But what I lacked in social graces, I made up in pretension, so I held my own.
Eventually, Amber and Andy started dating. Then they broke up, and then Andy and I dated for about five minutes. I couldn’t understand why Amber suddenly hated me. She’d broken up with him. Then Andy and I broke up, or whatever you call it when you stop dating someone you went to one movie with and held hands with once while watching TV in someone else’s dorm room.
I was a lot more devastated over losing Amber as a friend than over losing Andy as a boyfriend, which should have told me something about myself. Amber didn’t just hate me because of Andy—she also hated me because I had long, whiny, homesick phone conversations with my parents, who lived 30 minutes away, and because I ate our third roommate’s potato chips without asking, and because I got a really bad cold winter quarter and kept her awake with my coughing.
Last I heard, Amber was in divinity school at Princeton. Once she’d said, “I just think that certain ways of living are better than others, and I can tell people what those ways are.” So I guess she was making that dream come true.
It’s probably not fair to hate someone based on your impression of her as a college freshman trying to find her way in the world. I wouldn’t want to be judged by my 18-year-old self—now I totally ask people’s permission before eating their potato chips. But whatever, a little residual angst keeps me healthy, like how you’re supposed to have a little fat in your diet.
As for Andy, he was a nice kid, even if he pitted Amber and I against each other in a way none of us realized at the time, himself included. He talked about becoming a priest or moving to Ireland to join the IRA. He was a little bit angry, and I hope he’s done good things with it.As for The Simpsons, I’m hoping that AK is not above watching the movie just because some girl she likes thinks it’s great.