We were all waiting for the doors to open at the Crocodile Club in Seattle, an all=ages show for a band’s album release.
Back then, 1999, An all ages show in Seattle at one of the big clubs was like a Willa Wonka ticket, or a unicorn sighting, for high schoolers. And they were everywhere, swarming the sidewalks, and they all had that late 90s, early 2000s indie, thrift-store look: the flannel, the Docs, the Chucks, the loose jeans, the hole-torn jeans, the t-shirts … oh, the t-shirts, all from obscure bands. The more obscure the band, the better.
Two girls stood behind me, probably 16 or 17, their hair dyed, their t-shirts loose. During the hour we’d stood in line, I’d listened to them talk—boys they found good-looking, teachers that drove them crazy, other girls that drove them crazy.
A girl approached, alone. She appeared a little confused at the length of the line, and then made her past us toward the back. She looked much like the other girls—same Docs, same loose skirt, tai-dyed t-shirt, although her facial features were more delicate.
Once the girl has passed, the two girls behind me snickered. Then snickered louder. “Fashion victim,” the first girl.
The other laughed. “Tell me about it.”
I faced forward, as the line had started to move, though I couldn’t help but laugh. Fashion victim?
I am all for individualism. Expressing oneself. I love tattoos, piercings, Docs, Chucks, and yes, band shirts. The more obscure the better.
But, man, it seems that everyone is trying so hard to be an individual these days. Too hard, in fact.
Makes me wonder, is there conformity to our non-conformity. Like, what would happen if a teenage girl wore a Matchbox 20 t-shirt to a party. Or a teenage boy showed up to a concert in Old Navy jeans, non-faded, non-tapered?
With individuality becoming the new collective, could it be that the true non-conformist … is the conformist?