I Was Called "Emo" — and No One Got Hurt

Two weeks ago, I received a frantic e-mail from my college roommate. It said something akin to, “Are you still as organized and neurotic as you used to be?” It seems finishing her masters and trying to raise a three year-old while pregnant with a second child had put her in the weeds household-wise. Always ready to help a friend (and more than gleeful for the opportunity to feed the OCD beast in my head), I took off for four days to help restore order to chaos. While I was there, my friend’s young daughter took to calling me “Emo,” which is the term for a maternal aunt in Korean. So, to my early dismay (and eventual delight) I was called “Emo,”and, as I hinted earlier, no one got their teeth kicked in for it.

As Emo Avery, I suddenly realized the power the old(er) have over the young. My tiny minion wore headbands when I did, ate what I said was delicious, and, at my behest, announced to her mother (a former punk with undoubted visions of impending karma) that she was going to wear black lipstick. Unfortunately, the lyrics from The Smiths were too hard for her to manage, so, “Girlfriend in a Coma” came out as, “Boppy, boppy, bop.”

All of this potentially useless backstory leads me to a frigid afternoon when I was driving the clan to Ikea to purchase storage containers. There was a CD in the car stereo playing “kid-friendly” versions of wildly inappropriate songs by current pop artists. At one point, a childish female voice belted out something about being, “A very bad girl.” For a moment, my mind spun at the suggestive nature of those lyrics. After a few moments of indignation, I realized I was listening with my adult ears. While world-weary Emo Avery was picturing whips and leather, her inherited niece was blithely singing along, thinking this Very Bad Girl had just been busted coloring the walls purple with her crayons.

It’s all about perspective–first understanding ours is shackled to us much like our mortal coils, then realizing the need to try and step out of it, and ultimately accepting that no matter how much we want otherwise, our collective life experiences unfailingly filter our comprehension of the rest of this crazy, complicated race. As writers, we’re beholden to provide a glimpse inside the human condition, destined to forge entire people without applying personal prejudice. The question is, can we do it?


Regardless of how fast we sprint, we can never outrun ourselves. And so our private filters color every page with our own experience, inserting the essence of our beings into each word we write or say, into every encounter we come across. But, it is the simple attempt to see beyond that allows us the chance to guess at the inner workings of others, to create new and interesting characters that live and breathe inside the ink we put down–and can occasionally help transform a string of horrific lyrics into pure innocence.

Thanks to Natasha (Spyscribbler) for a great post that solidified for me the importance of this seemingly trivial event.

About Avery

I am a roller derbying, dark fantasy author. This blog chronicles my adventures in life, writing and skating. View all posts by Avery

10 responses to “I Was Called "Emo" — and No One Got Hurt

  • Avery

    RRN — Well, just when I think I’m at my most rambling… This is undeserved praise, indeed. But I’ll take it all the same. ;)Glad you stopped in. Come back anytime.

  • RRN

    Wow. There is a lot going on here. I really loved reading this. You are like a missle…Efficient and precise. “Regardless of how fast we sprint, we can never outrun ourselves.”I need to read this again. To me , there is so much packed in here …It deserves some further thought.Thanks.This was super cool.

  • Sidney

    There are probably many, many things worse than being Emo. Sounds kind of fun.

  • Avery

    Steve — I suppose we all see traits of ourselves in others’ lives (real or fictitious). After all, we’re not all that different in the end.

  • Avery

    Spy — A post is only as good as its inspiration. Thanks for yours.Kate — Poor little E.M.O. Hopefully, this current title for the same old game will meet it’s end (and take with it the Flock of Seagulls hair).Charles — That story gave me my first big smile of the week. If you’ll notice, it’s Wednesday!Lana — Excellent point about words. Every word hides a multitude of nuances within its set of definitions, each culturally and experientially loaded. As individuals, our own experiences with that word give us a unique slant (however minor). While it makes for stickiness at times, it’s a wonderful phenomenon. Say the same word to ten people and watch the subtleties of their reactions. That mutability is what’s so great about language.

  • Steve Malley

    And the crazy thing?The more thoroughly grounded you stay in your own perspective, the more people will go, “Wow, that’s just like me…”Thanks for the great post!

  • Lana Gramlich

    Great post.It is inevitable…We are all products of our experiences & perceptions. We can’t help but express ourselves from the standpoint of Who We Are (& even the staunchest effort will fall short.) It’d be like telling water; Express yourself as stone. It’s just not going to happen…at least not effectively. That’s why (I find,) all things (particularly words like “good” & “bad,”) are relative.

  • Charles Gramlich

    I remember my son once when he was in the car with us and with his older half sister. she said, rather indiginantly that someone had “shown us the bird,” and josh was very upset because he didn’t get to see the “bird.” Innocence. Man I wish I had some of mine back. but you’re right. you can’t outrun yourself

  • Kate S

    Aw, Emo Avery. 🙂 LOL.My daughter’s initials are EMO and I don’t think she’s going to forgive me for it.Bad girls. All of us. 🙂

  • spyscribbler

    I love it. That’s a perfect story to illustrate the difference of perspective. And it’s so true (I love the way you put it), about how our understanding is “shackled” to us. It’s a bit like trying to outrun our shadow.

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