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The Day I Found Out He Was 44
I'm not proud of it, but I had a boy band phase. I had a rap phase before that. And a country phase. Add a case of high-nostalgic-tendencies, and it might not surprise you that I only very recently parted with my entire collection of *NSYNC albums, including their Christmas album. I was fifteen when I self-diagnosed myself with depression (later confirmed as teen angst), and would lay on my bed for hours, Third Eye Blind's "Good For You" on a loop as I pined over a boy who hadn't even hit 5'5" yet. This habit followed me into my college years—same song, different boy—and Third Eye Blind followed as well.
Now, instead of $60+ tickets to sold-out arenas watching five costumed boys fly through the air tied to not-so-invisible rope, there are $3 hand stamps into tiny clubs with no maximum capacity. I'm the short one in the middle, glued to my iPhone while hipsters-galore scuttle around me, drinking and dancing and looking for a smoke, all the while hoping their bike is locked up tight enough outside.
They fall asleep with the sounds of indie electro experimental alternative lo-fi in their ears, and I fall asleep knowing a guitar pick from the '03 Third Eye Blind concert at UMBC is tucked away safely in the bottom left TV cabinet drawer.
This weekend was the first time that I'd been disappointed with my iPhone. My friends and I were staying at a parents' summer house on a well-needed mini-break, and we were out of milk. A driver was designated and I was chosen as the navigator. Everyone else was down at the dock, trying to catch dinner between guzzles of Heineken. I was taking my navigation duties very seriously, and was walking towards the house, revving up the GPS, looking for the driver. I found her plunked down on the couch staring at the mega-screen TV on the wall, clicker mid-click. I focused my concern from her lock-grip to the television where Third Eye Blind was midway through their 10 Years Down set at the Fillmore Theatre. I slid onto the couch, thoughts of driving and dinner nowhere to be found.
In a matter of minutes, we went from pure joy, screaming the lyrics word for word at the TV, fifteen feet away from us, to a simultaneous and uncomfortable hush as the camera crept closer and closer to Stephan Jenkins. I had never seen HD TV before, but I'll take my 13" analog any day. I could see the lines of his face, his sweating pores, and his receding hairline as clear as if I was standing right in front of him with a magnifying glass. Something in me shattered. The silence continued as I lunged for my iPod and Wikipedia'd Stephan. There it was, looming comfortably on the small screen: Stephan Jenkins, born September 27, 1964. He could be my dad.