I got into the great college of my choice and had to make the inevitable adjustments to fit in with the suddenly expanded cool-kid base. Some of those adjustments may have been little white lies.... you know, like pretending I knew what the fuck someone was talking about when they asked if I'd read Kant or when others compared how many AP classes they'd taken as seniors (hello? my rinky-dink high school didn't even offer AP classes so I hadn't even heard of them), or by giving tacit agreement to all kinds of shit that I had never encountered, experienced or seen.
FYI: Cool kids don't squeal their excitement over the things that they love anyway, so it's easy to fudge your way through once you've ingratiated yourself into the scene. In fact, if used correctly and judiciously, the less said the cooler and more mysterious or disdainful you can seem.
Cut to a party at the house of some upperclassmen who were like the coolest of the cool kids. These were a set of folks that were all juniors and were the movers and shakers of the alternative rock scene at WNUR (our beloved college radio station that I was then working at as a lowly freshman apprentice). I was particulary enthralled with a certain red-headed misanthrope that was hosting the party; I was feeling pretty special that he was would even NOTICE me, much less invite me to the party.
I'm helping myself to the beer, smoking away, chatting with him and some other cool-ios. And this AWESOME song comes on. I mean like a really hot, grooving, guitar driven song that I've never heard before. I assume that it is some alt-rock piece of arcana that I would only have heard of if I had been studying the intricacies of alternative rock since the Dave Clark Five first made an appearence back in the '60s (and for the record, REM was my alternative rock experience in high school, maybe a little Jason and the Scorchers (hello 1988!!)- I was introduced to the Dave Clark Five by the aforementioned red-head).
So, I pipe up: "Hey, this song is soooo great! Who is it?" Can you see my head bobbing up and down like YEAH.
All talking in the vicinity ceases.
The song powers on.
Four sets of the coolest eyes at 'NUR train themselves on me in disbelief.
Red-Headed Misanthrobe Guy puts in the hooks.... "You don't know who this is?"
Uhhhhh, lick lips nervously, uh, "No?"
Again: "You don't know who this is?" Four sets of eyes exchanging looks of shock.
"Uh, ha, ha, no... I guess I don't." Just put me out of my misery people! Please?
Here it comes....
Wait for it....
"It's Jimi Hendrix' Purple Haze."
I seriously wanted to crawl into a hole and die. Or at least drown myself in malt liquor.
At least they didn't ask me if I'd ever heard of Jimi Hendrix. That would've been too much to bear.
And I wasn't escorted out by the cool police, either. In fact, I gotta say that those cool kids were alright... I never heard mention of my huge faux pas again.
But for me, that goes down as one of the most appallingly humorous social gaffs of my life. (I'd hate to see what kind of list of gaffs my friends and acquaintances might put together!)