Ah, childhood. Sweet, sweet childhood. The beautiful time in everyone’s lives where the only finals we worried about were the final bells at the end of recess and when a nap was not a thing of our wildest imaginations but an activity actively encouraged in school. Those were the days.
Except, not for me. You see, I was basically the real-life version of Eugene from Hey Arnold. You know, that goofy-looking kid who would walk outside, trip on a spider, fall down a flight of steps and then tell you he was okay with his right arm twisted unnaturally behind his head? That was me. So while all of y’all were outside during recess playing around and having fun. I was sitting inside the nurses office during her lunch break, watching Access Hollywood on the tiny television she snuck in and getting my cast signed by whoever had lice or mono that week.
Yeah, childhood wasn’t the greatest time for me. So while everyone else posts their Remember The 90’s Facebook statuses and talks about how great being a kid was for them, I’ve chosen to take a more cynical route in remembering my past.
Here are the top 6 most traumatic moments of my childhood (as defined by pop culture.)
6. Kevin leaves the Backstreet Boys
Okay, so in case you didn’t read my last article (which you totally should when you’re done with this one, I’m just sayin’,) there is one thing you need to know about me: I have approximately one feeling when it comes to most boy bands and that feeling is unrestrained and undying love.
So, knowing that now, you could imagine my shock, horror and devastation when I came home from school on June 26th 2006 and overheard my sisters discussing some terrible news: Kevin Richardson, eldest member of the Backstreet Boys, had decided to leave the band.
I don’t have a picture of myself from that day but I’m fairly certain I probably looked something like this.
The reason he gave for his departure was that he wanted to “move on with the next chapter of [his] life” but really he might as well have said he left the band to pursue a career in kicking puppies and graffiting “DIANNA SUX” on the sides of buildings because it hurt just the same.
He proceeded to stomp all over my heart by thanking fans (ouch) for “all the beautiful memories we have shared together” (stop) and saying that the boys would always be his “little brothers” (no!!!!) and have his “utmost love and support” (is this what death feels like? I think so.)
Kevin has since come to his senses and rejoined the band to work on their next album. My heart has finally begun to repair itself but still the sting of his initial departure is still fresh.
5. Steve leaves Blues Clues, We are left with the fuckwit that is Joe
In 2002, the coalition of American detectives took a major hit: Steve, clue hunter extraordinaire, was taking a break from the business. He was leaving Blue behind and going to college.
Why, you ask? I don’t know! Unless he put “knows how to serenade the device that holds my mail” and “ability to go for years without ever changing my shirt” down as extracurriculars on his application, he certainly didn’t seem all that qualified for college seeing as he never actually ever went to high school.
But, alas, those of us who grew up with Blue Clues would have to face the facts: our childhood pal Steve was leaving us behind. We would never get to gather around the thinking chair to solve a puppy problem ever again.
Or at least that was the case until Steve’s long lost brother Joe crashed the party.
Not much is explained about Joe. Why he’s there, where he lives, how could be such a loser that he’s able to actively dedicate himself to a full-time four-year house sitting job. Then again, not much is explained regarding the logistics behind how salt and pepper shakers gave birth to a paprika baby. And I’m okay with that.
What I’m not okay with is how much Joe fucking sucked at his job. He was basically the exact same as Steve except minus literally everything that ever made Steve likeable.
Not only was Joe not Steve but he was also very much so NOT STEVE. He was no part of the Blues Clues I grew up with and trying to squish him into it filled me with the rage that I’m sure most classic rock fans feel when they hear about another one of their favorite songs getting covered on Glee.
And still Joe continued on. He pranced around the set, spreading his Not-Steve-ish-ness everywhere and ruining everyone’s fun all the time. And it was under his reign that Blue Clues did the unthinkable and hit it’s rock bottom: Live. Action. Puppets.
4. The most terrifying episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark?
Okay, let’s be real for a minute here: pretty much every episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? could fill a spot on this list because it was arguably the most terrifying show marketed to children ever created. Outside of the Furby in my closet that I was certain was going to come to life and kill me, episodes of this show were the main cause of my nightmares as a child. In case you were one of the lucky few who didn’t nearly pee their pants watching this every Sunday night as a kid, Are You Afraid of the Dark? was a program on Nickelodeon during the 90s that centered around a group of teens called “The Midnight Society.”
Each week the group gathered around a campfire and one of the members would paint for the rest a terrifying tale of everything from goth kids getting eaten by vampires to a little boy who feeds people he doesn’t like to an unseen monster that lives in his basement. You know, the usual plot line for a show aimed towards kids ages 8-14.
The particular episode we’re talking about here is the scariest of them all: “The Tale of the Dead Man’s Float. ”
The story begins in 1954 where we get to see a little boy drown in the school pool because the life guard, Charlie, was too busy making out with the boy’s older sister.
Oh, but wait. The little boy didn’t drown because he wasn’t able to swim; he was murdered by an invisible monster that lives in the pool – did we forget to mention that?
You see, in a move so dumb it literally screams WE WERE ASKING TO BE HAUNTED, the school had decided to build its new pool addition on top of an old graveyard. But because a bunch of rotting corpses doesn’t exactly scream ‘pool time fun’, the school removed all of the bodies before it began construction. Well, except for one.
And it was that one lost soul who decided to exact revenge on each and every person who swam in the pool, unknowing of the creature that lived within. The monster claimed four victims before the pool was shut down later that same year but if you think about all of the kids (me) who nearly suffocated, they were hiding so far under their covers, that number is probably a lot higher.
And, if you’re thinking to yourself ‘what could possibly be more incredibly frightening to a child than a monster that you can’t see that kills you in the most excruciatingly slow way possible?’ Well, dear reader, the answer would actually be that exact same monster at the end of the episode when the main character uses science (magic???) to make him visible.
3. Justin and Britney break up – true love dies
Speaking of children crying, let us move on to the day true love died: Justin and Britney’s break-up back in January 2003.
They were the It Couple at the top of their games. They had it all; fame, fortune, success, supposedly intact virginities.
“It was like my parents divorcing – but worse,” my roommate said when we discussed the matter and if you think she’s even 50% kidding then you are 100% wrong.
The first cd I ever owned was a Britney/N’Sync four song disc that I got with my Mighty Kids Meal at a McDonalds. I played it so much that I’m positive to this day the lyrics of Oops I Did It Again are still burned somewhere in the back of my parents’ minds. Saying that Brit and JT were two of my favorite people growing up would be almost as big of an understatement as saying that I’m the type of person who can simply enjoy something casually without obsessing over it.
Had I not been eight at the time and still repulsed by doing anything more physically intimate than arm wrestling with a boy, their relationship would have been the one I’d have modeled my own after. Not something I’m going to tell my parents who have been happily together for 50+ years, but true never-the-less.
When their relationship ended, I experienced my first true heartbreak. Love was fleeting – I knew it then. If
Brustin Justney Spearlake (man, all of these sound terrible, were portmanteaus not a thing a decade ago? Anyway…) If Britney and Justin couldn’t make it, what chances were there for the rest of us?
This was the worst break-up I’ve ever experienced and the only place where I was actually a part of the relationship was in my head.
2. Realizing that Casper The Friendly Ghost had at one point been Casper The Friendly Little Boy
I hope you’re not still misty-eyed from that last bit because things are about to get eight kinds of sad up in here….
Everyone remembers Casper the Friendly Ghost. He was a cute little guy who was a total sweetheart despite living with his three evil uncles and, you know, being a ghost and all. He was tiny and plump and looked kind of like a translucent marshmallow until he turned back into a human in the movie and suddenly got super hot just in time to make out with Christina Ricci.
But – wait a minute. He turned back into a human. Which must mean…
Yup. Casper the Friendly Ghost had once been Casper the Friendly Little Boy.
Watching the Casper cartoons as a kid, it never really hits you that he had ever been anything other than what he currently was: a ghost. Just like you never really questioned how a pineapple got under the sea in the first place or why no one ever tried to commit the grown man who spent his days going on scavenger hunts constructed by his dog and talking to his salt and pepper shakers; you never thought to wonder about just how our amiable spirit friend came to be. Well, until the movie came out in 1995 and we were all reminded just where ghosts came from.
As the story goes, Casper had just received a new sled from his father for his birthday and, being so excited to play with his new toy, he spent the entire day frolicking in the snow despite his father’s warning that it was too cold outside. In the end he caught pneumonia and, without the proper antibiotics available, he passed away leaving his father to spend the rest of his lonely life desperately trying to create a machine that could possibly bring the only person he loved back to life. When word of his efforts got out, he was sent to an insane asylum before he could put his fully functioning machine to use.
Are you sufficiently depressed yet? Because I’m crying in the middle of Starbucks as I write this.
1.Finding out Lindsay Lohan didn’t have a twin.
Let’s be real, this was a mindfuck and a betrayal and I’m still not over it.