Class of ’04: Traci & Molly’s High School Reunion

As Class of ’04 Week comes to a close, we’re taking today to look back at our own personal experience in high school. Like everyone else who spent four years trapped inside a building with pubescent teens and seemingly endless piles of homework (that we may or may not have done), we have fond memories of our time together in those hallowed halls. From being theatre nerds to drama with friends and a trip that took us to meet our very first (gay) boyfriend in Europe, the anecdotes are endless. Since the odds of us attending our upcoming (official) 10 year reunion are the same as, say, Britney and Justin getting back together or my Beanie Babies collection being worth $1 mil, or ever knowing the real way to pronounce ‘Xanga’, we now share with you reflections on our teen selves as adults 10 years later – in lieu of a real reunion.

Introduction to Theater

M: We sort of had a weirdly politicized high school theater department, which I think is such a normal thing. Like, the same kids got all the roles even if they weren’t great, and it was impossible to edge your way in there. Both of us came in with more “experience” (whatever) than a lot of kids, but since we started sophomore or junior year it was like “nope, sorry.” And I was like BITCH I WAS IN AN EDUCATIONAL VIDEO ALREADY.

T: And I was all BITCH I’VE BEEN IN ALL THE PRODUCTIONS OF MY CHURCH MUSICALS DAMNNNN. But really. I think I went into the freshman year audition of Cinderella thinking I was the shit and ended up not even getting into the chorus. It wasn’t until junior year when both Molly & I got into Crazy For You – and I got in only because I was good at tap dancing and somehow made the “dance troupe/Follies Girls”. I felt like I finally had an in but senior year, I was determined to get a good role for the musical, My Fair Lady. I started taking voice lessons from a local music school just so I could properly prepare for my audition. I guess it worked because I played Mrs. Pearce, the head housekeeper. CATCH YOUR DREAMS, KIDS. SHACKLE THEM TO YOUR HEART.

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M: But the most memorable theater experience by far was The Theater Bandit. During the spring musical, stuff kept disappearing from kids’ backpacks during rehearsals. After a while it became clear it was someone involved in the play. THEN a big sum of money went missing the day of our dress rehearsal, and the play was going to be cancelled – cancelled! – if the person didn’t fess up or turn in the money. The directors called everyone up onto the stage, one by one, and went through their bookbags to look for it. Girls were crying.

Honestly, even for the theater department, calling each kid up to be searched right at center stage was a liiiiitle dramatic. There were three chairs – one for the kid and one for each director – and in my imagination, a spotlight. Maybe some suspenseful piano music.

T: But really, in my head it looked like the “green mile” on So You Think You Can Dance right before they find out if they make the top 20 or not.

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Turns out that the girl who did it finally got caught and mystery of The Theater Bandit was solved. I still don’t know if she ‘fessed up or you know, our director found a huge wad of cash in her bookbag, but to this day, we still call this girl The Theater Bandit. Also I think I remember someone else claiming they had something stolen, and during the interrogation, she came crying back into the theater saying her mom found whatever it is she thought was stolen – at home.

M: I don’t know if she was officially caught, because I found out later when our friend Sarah went to college with someone knew The Theater Bandit. If our lives were Pretty Little Liars, that was the moment I found out who A was.

Recess/Lunch (You Can’t Sit With Us)

M: I could still draw the social geography of our high school cafeteria from memory. Having multiple groups you sit with depending on the day was okay – I floated a bit – but going to a table that wasn’t part of your usual scene just wasn’t done. To the extent that freshman year when I went to the senior boy table to give my brother my leftover lunch money and stayed there a while, THAT was the moment he decided I was sort-of cool. One time they tried to start this Change Your Seat Day, and we were all like “this is some kind of crazy bullshit.”

T: I weirdly remember the geography too. In fact freshman year, I almost sat with the girls who played sports – because my friends from middle school played volleyball, not because I did HAHA – but I decided to sit somewhere else instead. That somewhere else was the theater/band/chorus section, where I usually sat. Although, like Molly, I think I floated a bit, between that table, the table that our group of friends started that was kind of a mish mosh of folks, and when I felt daring, the minority table (read: black table). I used to sit at the black table all throughout middle school, but that’s because we were all friends. In high school, it was like two of them were my friends and the rest were the guys who played football. Nope.

This was not in our school’s cafeteria, this was at the annual theatre banquet our senior year.

M: The volleyball thing reminds me of that period right at the beginning of freshman year when you’re trying to get your bearings, and you hang out with people that you end up not even saying hi to in the hall four years later. The same thing happened in college, too. You befriended some random group of people, figured out who you really want to spend time with within a few months, and by graduation you didn’t even know their names.

T: And I’m still friends with those people on Facebook. Still trying to get myself to unfriend them, but stalking is just so satisfying on the internetz.

Dramatics

M: I was never properly at the center of any actual teen drama. I did have a few of those random girls who seemed to dislike me for no reason though. One girl from my tennis team hated me. She was sort of a poor student/bad girl type. I think she took my “Exceeds Expectations” personality type as a personal indictment, when in reality I couldn’t have given less of a shit about her. Also this one girl who used a lot of hairspray was always kind of snide and I was like “get over yourself, you leave the girls’ bathroom under a heavy fog of Aquanet.” If there is a tiny ozone hole directly above the science wing of our high school, she is the reason.

I did talk a lot of shit, though. I’ll own up to that. But I was always joking! I felt like it was okay to rip on people as long as it was funny. I hope I’ve gotten better, but that might be a lifelong journey.

T: I mean, we’ve gotten better to the extent that we know when it’s warranted because people are jackasses. Yeah, I don’t really remember any real teen drama happening, besides the normal secret romances, secret (not so secret) pregnancies… but senior year is when the real shit happened. One of my friends decided she was just going to stop talking to us – I honestly don’t even remember why – and as a last “olive branch/I’m going off to college peace offering” I sent her a copy of that video I made for everyone (see yesterday’s post re: Closing Time by Semisonic), and never got a response back. Until like 2 years ago when we met up when I was home and we made up, I guess? IDK I don’t have a problem with her anymore, I just think it’s funny that I still have no idea why there was a rift in the first place.

M: I was waiting for you to tell that story because I couldn’t figure out what had actually happened and figured I either forgot or wasn’t in the loop! It turns out it was just legitimately for no reason?

T: No reason. If there was a reason, I’ve clearly forgotten it with my old age.

Global Studies

M: Junior year, we went on a school trip to Spain. We brought along computer print-outs of Friends episodes and read them aloud in our hotel room. I feel like this is an important thing to know about us as friends and just people in general.

T: I clearly remember us in our hotel room in Valencia, maybe (?) sitting on the bed and reading the scripts between the two of us and our two friends. This was also the trip where we tried to convince one of our friends that Cups was a real game during the flight.

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“Gotcha suckaaa! Cups isn’t real!”

M: We totally did, too. I remember her being like “I think I’m getting it!”

I’d like to take this moment to publicly apologize to all of the other people on our flights, in our hotels, in restaurants, etc. We were probably all so loud and annoying.  A German couple did ask us to quiet down one morning when we were watching “That’s English!”, which was like the Spanish-to-English version of Destinos. Sample dialogue: A: Do you like ham? B: I like ham. A: Here’s a ham! Have some ham.

T: oh my GOD I forgot about That’s English! We also did a lot of ‘staring at European children and promising we would dress our kids like that one day’ too. The friggin tots looked straight out of Zara.

M: I’m still trying to work out how my future children can wear school smocks (is that even the right English term? IDK. Babis.) and speak French.

I believe this was post-churros con chocolate. My life has never been the same.

T: Since we went through the school, we were on one of those EF organized tours that give you a free backpack and a tour guide to join you the entire trip. Our tour guide’s name was Pablo *sigh*. I was pretty much obsessed/in love with him and his Spanish accent and knowledge of so much about his country. I even bought one of those novelty name plates that said PABLO on it, which still sits in my bedroom at home to this day. Looking back… he was absolutely, 100%, no doubt about it, homosexual. FORESHADOWING OF MY LIFE WITH THE GAYS.

Fun fact: the Theater Bandit is in this picture.

M: I remember debating whether he was gay or straight, and then he walked into the hotel lobby in a rainbow-print Dolce & Gabbana sweater. We were like “maybe he’s just European?” But Europe has gay people, too. And he was one of them.

❤ PABLO ❤

Photography Class

T: Kids these days don’t know just how good they have it. Someone was recently telling me that they saw a group of like 15 year old girls at the airport who kept taking selfies for 20 minutes while waiting for their flight. When we were 15, we had to take pictures on either our disposable KODAK cameras or actual point and shoots with real film (do kids know how to put film in cameras even?). When you got pix back after they were developed and you looked horrible in a picture, too bad. That’s why when there was a picture where everyone looked great, it was like the holy grail.

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And for big events – such as prom – I remember the agony of waiting a couple days to get the photos back. And then we would scour over them during lunch.

Junior prom.

Senior prom.

Post-Senior prom at our friend’s cottage and clearly taken on an old school camera since it’s not even in focus or centered.

M: But in a way, that was better. Because you kept your pictures, and if you looked bad, you either got rid of it or just didn’t show it to anybody. And if you looked bad in someone else’s pictures, only a finite group of people would ever see it. The downside was that if your pictures didn’t turn out you wouldn’t know til weeks later, and by then the moment was gone. I like how pictures used to be separate from events. Like you said, we’d all pour over them at lunch or study hall after they were developed. Now you’re expected to show everyone what you’re doing, while you’re doing it.

iPhones would’ve been the best for our band/chorus trip to Hershey Park. WE’RE NUMBER ONE! WE’RE NUMBER ONE!

T: Are senior pictures still a big thing with high schoolers? I think mine actually came out pretty good, but can someone explain to me why I was wearing a jersey like shirt in this one? I never played sports. But we did use these pictures like trading cards.

you’re welcome, internet.

M: Gotta catch ‘em all! You’d have people you weren’t even really friends with ask for your picture.

They’re still a thing some places at least – my little cousin is a senior now and she has like a hundred different poses that keep showing up on Facebook. When I got to college I learned that in other regions people only got that one picture that went in the yearbook, often where girls had to wear that weird off-the-shoulder black thing. We got straight-up glamour shots with three outfit changes, multiple settings, filters, etc. You had your yearbook pic and then like your sassy outdoor pic, your “wearing a prom dress on a swing” pic, etc. My wearing a prom dress on a swing pic was actually in SUCH demand that I ran out. My mom ordered more but, alas, she got extra prints of the wrong one. I was so ticked in the way only a seventeen-year-old whose mom is just trying to help can be ticked.

T: Um, I’m pretty sure I never got the one of you in a dress on a swing. That’s it. Friendship over.

M: Yeah, I’d love to give you one, but I still only have a giant stack of the wrong pose. THANKS MOM.

AP Life Class

M: While I think you really have to learn things by experience, there are still some things I wish I’d known:

♦ Straighten your hair or wear it curly, but please do not just blow-dry it and leave it sort of puffy and lumpy and sad.

♦ Being as young and enthusiastic and optimistic as you are at 17 is attractive no matter what you look like. But also, looking back at pictures I can’t believe I didn’t realize that I looked perfectly normal, not the ugly sewer-troll I thought I was. Besides, nobody cares what you look like; they’re all too busy with their own lives. Maybe that’s the biggest lesson: nobody else really cares what you look like, so you shouldn’t either.

♦ You really AREN’T going to use calculus.

♦ A high school teacher said this once, but I had to live it to know if was true: a lot of your best friends and people you’ll love most in your life are people you haven’t met yet.  It’s easy to be myopic when you’re a teenager but your relationships when you’re 16 aren’t IT. Or at 27, for that matter.

T: Like Tim Riggins, I also have no regrets, but here we go:

♦ Pay attention during instructions for school picture day. I came from a middle school where you could dress up (aka not wear the required uniform) for picture day, and assumed it was the same in high school. So freshman year, I showed up in a long black skirt, white shirt, with a black button up short sleeve shirt that wasn’t buttoned up. I got pulled over by one of the vice principals who asked why I wasn’t in dress code. I blamed it on my stupidity. Probs my most embarrassing moment in my high school career.

♦ Hang out with your friends outside of school more. Because our school was a private school with kids from all over the greater Rochester area, my friends lived all over the city, not down the street. In fact I had no friends that lived down the street from me. Anyways, I didn’t really hang out with my friends on weekends for real until late junior year. I wish we had more nights together.

♦ Take that journalism class. Because it will help you for your future job, probably (aka the job I have now).

♦ Don’t be afraid to do more extracurriculars. I wish I could’ve done choir all four years, been involved in theatre somehow even when I wasn’t cast in the show, and I totally could’ve made the yearbook much better than it was our senior year.

♦ Don’t be afraid. Period. I think I was trying too hard to be “adult” by the time I was a senior that I forgot how to be a teenager and just not think about the possible consequences. I mean, it’s not like I was breaking any laws, I just mean I shouldn’t have have been so uptight about life in general.

 

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Class of ’04: Playlist of the Month

Nothing can make you more nostalgic for a specific time in your life than listening to music. The lyrics that *get you*, every note, and the song as a whole can transport you back to a moment so engrained in your memory that it almost feels as if you suddenly have Hermione’s Time Turner and you’re living the moment all over again. This month’s playlist brings us back to the years between 2000 and 2004 (our prime high school years) when we lived off of our discmans, made mix CDs and had to figure out how to download MP3s on our computers using dial-up.

Enjoy the entire playlist on Spotify here!

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Traci’s Picks

Your Body is a Wonderland by John Mayer

I honestly could’ve picked any one of JM’s songs from Room for Squares album for this playlist and it still would accurately be the soundtrack to my high school life. I remember listening to this record non stop, particularly this song – and of course, I would pretend he was singing it to me. Remember this is pre-pretentious John Mayer, so it was okay. I lived and died by all his albums, and even played Wheel off Heavier Things for one of my religion classes (we went to a Catholic high school, I guess one of the things we had to do was bring in a “prayer song”? IDK all I recall is that I tried to be all deep with Wheel and some kid brought in the full, like, 7 minute version of The Doors’ Light My Fire). Also: Heavier Things, tho.

Must Get Out by Maroon 5

Like I said, Molly and I went to a Catholic high school, where we had to take religion classes. Senior year included a very borderline class called Peer Ministry. In previous years, we had classes focused on the Old Testament and the New Testament, but our senior year, we had a new teacher who decided that “Peer Ministry” was going to consist of watching movies like Holes and reading Tuesdays with Morrie. Anyways, as part of the class, everyone had to go on a weekend retreat to some camp out in the woods of New York. You signed up for different weekends, and obviously my friends and I decided to sign up the same weekend. One of the activities at the retreat was making some kind of craft to reflect what you’re feeling about your future (I think?) Basically, I wrote the lyrics of Must Get Out on a balloon – ‘This city’s made us crazy and we must get out’ – symbolizing my desire to get out of Rochester and on to a new adventure in Boston. Songs About Jane was one of those CDs, in addition to Room for Squares, that was on a constant rotation in my car’s CD player, and this song just spoke to me, you know?

Dare You to Move by Switchfoot

If you described a typical teenager in the early 2000s, that would have been me. I was not unique, different, or special in any way. I tried so hard to be cool – but the cool by Teen People and MTV standards. I was a total teenybopper, obsessed over everything popular in pop culture, desired everything out of the DeLiA*s catalog. That being said, A Walk to Remember was one of my favorite movies. I didn’t shun it at all, in fact I welcomed it. So much so that I got the soundtrack for my 16th birthday, and proceeded to play it on repeat. I listened to a lot of Switchfoot and Mandy Moore on my morning drives to school.

Float On – Modest Mouse

Float On was released in February of 2004, so nearing the end of our senior year. I remember using the lyrics of this song in my AIM profile, pretending to be all deep and thoughtful, as it was exactly how I felt about ending one chapter and moving on to another. It continued to be a mainstay in my summer playlist – and by playlist I mean the Summer ’04 mix cd I made for myself and listened to on my way to my summer job at the local amusement park.

Closing Time – Semisonic

Remember how this was like the cliche song everyone used in their AOL profiles, AIM profiles, yearbook quotes, etc.? This and that Dave Matthews Band lyric, “Life is sweet but short for certain”? Yeah, I totally gave into that. Because I was really into my friends and super into technology, I created a slideshow from pictures of me and my friends from senior year and used this song as the soundtrack. That’s right – I was the master of Windows Media Player. Still can’t figure out why I wasn’t friends with the “popular kids”.

Molly’s Picks

No Such Thing by John  Mayer

Our senior year was dominated by John Mayer, Dream Man (hey, it was 2004 and we were essentially babies). I heard this the other day, and it was a bit surreal to hear John Mayer sing about his ten-year reunion now that I’m there. It’s not exactly a super-deep song, but  I do relate to it in ways I couldn’t have at 15.

Us at the John Mayer/Maroon 5 concert. In all its neon lights glory (see what I did there).

Molly & our friend Dave lifting Sarah up to try to “see into” the VIP section. John Mayer was not spotted.

New Slang by The Shins

From here, my list turns into a tour of sensitive indie rock of the early 2000s. My musical tastes were very Seth Cohen-y, to use a 2004-vintage reference. This was before that time in 2005-2006 when “Garden State soundtrack” became a shorthand for a type of music, but – well, obviously that’s what we’re looking at here.

History lesson: the internet was smaller then, and finding a band that wasn’t played on top-40 radio felt like a real discovery.  With no iTunes, if you wanted a record you either had to download illegally (mea culpa!) or scour a real-life music store. If you wonder why hipsters are so insufferable about liking things before they were cool, it’s probably because back in the day they really had to earn it. There was no tumblr to tell teens what they were supposed to like, there was TRL and Teen People and you had to dig to find things outside of that.

Hey Girl by Dashboard Confessional

A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar was like the album if you were into – am I dating myself or really, really dating myself if I say alternative music? Or just into Chris Carrabba, on whom I had an even bigger teen girl crush than John Mayer.

Technicolor Girls by Death Cab For Cutie

This is the most “high school feelings” type song I can think of, so much so that even a decade later this takes me back to seeing friends in the parking lot by the football field. Like No Such Thing, this is a perspective on high school that I could understand but not really relate to until I was a decade removed: “we never turn out the way we thought we would.”

Soco Amaretto Lime by Brand New

When I heard this as a kid it was like “hell yes! Eighteen forever!” but now that I’m older and realize that the guys in the band were in their mid-20s when this was released, I hear a bit more wistfulness. But while I sometimes miss being 18, this also makes me think “oh, thank Christ I am not 18 forever. That was exhausting.”

 

Class of ’04: What’s My Age Again?

You can tell me that we graduated 10 years ago, but I still have a difficult time convincing myself that that much time has passed since I last used a locker and attended a gym class (note I didn’t say ‘participated’). And when looking back at pop culture a decade ago, it’s hard to believe that some of these things happened so long ago. Here’s a list of just a few things that happened in 2004 that will make you want to pull out your Sony Discman and blast Blink-182 in an attempt to reclaim your youth.

Oops… I Did It Again

January 3rd: Britney Jean Spears decided to go to Las Vegas and marries her childhood friend Jason Allen Alexander at The Little White Wedding Chapel, the same place where Paul Newman married Joanne Woodward and Pamela Anderson tied the knot with Rick Salomon (the first time).

January 5th: Brit filed an annulment petition stating she “lacked understanding of her actions” and two hours later, her marriage was completely dissolved.

July 5th: Brit gets engaged to dancer Kevin Federline, whom she met three months earlier. Besides the fact that their relationship was on the fast track to marriage (read: divorce), they were under a lot of heat since Kevin’s and his ex-girlfriend Shar Jackson was still pregnant with their second child.

September 18: B & KFed get married. This is a picture that was taken during the reception.

Nipplegate/Boob Bowl

February 1: Ah yes, the floppy breast that all Americans young and old were exposed to during Super Bowl XXXVIII. As we know, JT ripped off a piece of tear away material covering Janet’s (Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty) right boob, and in their defense they deemed it a “wardrobe malfunction”, but conservatives called it “a sign of decreasing morality in the national culture”, while others just said to “calm the fuck down”. The legal ramifications from the FCC and subsequent lawsuits seemed to be never ending – in fact as recent as 2012, the Supreme Court declined an appeal from the FCC over the $550,000 fine on Nipplegate.

Kanye Drops College Dropout

February 10: Kanye West releases his debut album, The College Dropout, which hits the top of the charts and receives critical acclaim. It’s hard to believe there was a time when we ALL liked Kanye because his music was so good, but then he started talking too much and grabbed the mic from Taylor Swift, etc. and he became one of the most polarizing artists in music. But no one can deny just how freaking good this record was. Even the weakest track on the album was better than most of the rap songs released that year.

You Go, Glen Coco

February 20: Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen was the first of two leading roles Lindsay Lohan had in 2004, which is considered her breakout year. After appearing in Freaky Friday in 2003, Linds landed another Disney movie with the teen musical that pitted her against a young Megan Fox.

April 30: You know it, you love it, you wear pink on Wednesdays. Mean Girls was released and became a defining teen comedy of the 2000s and launched LiLo into superstar success.

May 1: Luckily, Lindsay had connections at Saturday Night Live thanks to Tina Fey/Mean Girls, and hosted the show for the first time, AKA the show with the most epic (and first) sketch of Debbie Downer.

June 5: Linds becomes the youngest host of the MTV Movie Awards at just 17 years old. Meanwhile, I think I was busy “studying” my Sparknotes for my AP English exam.

December 7: Lindsay’s first album, Speak is released and surprisingly gets certified platinum. I’m not going to lie to you, she has some pretty catchy tunes that may or may not have been downloaded via Napster. But seriously though – Over?!

Jimmy Meets World

May 15: Jimmy Fallon makes his last appearance as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, closing out his six-season tenure with a rousing all cast musical rendition of Grease’s Summer Nights, with his leading lady, Tina Fey.

You Can’t Be Sirius

May 23: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azakaban hits theaters. I admit, I was such a late bloomer to HP. Like I didn’t start reading until the day the 7th book came out :\ I hang my head in shame (And I also blame my parents who I’m convinced believed that reading the books legit made you some kind of witch frreal). Anyways, the Alfonso Cuaron-directed installment grossed a total of $796.6 million worldwide, making it the lowest-grossing in the whole HP film series, but still ranks it the 44th highest-grossing film of all time. Whatever. This was my favorite movie up until the last one, and arguably my favorite book.

I Believe In Miracles

May 26: Fantasia Barrino wins the third season of American Idol in one of the most memorable and dramatic reveals in all of television history. Reminder that this is the same year Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson placed seventh and Diana DeGarmo was the runner-up. (Sidenote: I just saw Diana and hubs season 5 Idol alum Ace Young in the Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat tour and like a fine wine, her voice has just gotten better with age. Ace, maybe not so much. They’re cute tho. Go go go Joe!)

Closing Time

Our beloved Friends came to a close (which you can reminisce over at our Friends 10 Week tag), while shows I was too young to watch (Ed, Sex and the City, The Practice) and shows I was too old to still be watching (Lizzie McGuire, Hey Arnold!, Rugrats, The Wild Thornberrys, CatDog) also met their demise. RIP Lizzie + Gordo, forever in our hearts.

Meet Michael Phelps

August: The 2004 Summer Olympics are held in Athens, Greece and the main takeaway is that America came out with a new sports legend in Michael Phelps. At just 19 years old, he won 8 medals, 6 of which were gold, the other 2 bronze, well on his way to becoming the most decorated athlete in Olympics history. In the video above, Michael wins his 5th gold of the games in the 4×200 relay, helping his team edge out Ian “Thorpedo” Thorpe and the Australians by a hair. UGH I miss the Olympics.

Pieces of Me

October 23: Ashlee Simpson gets caught lip synching on Saturday Night Live and I have second hand embarrassment for all involved.

Beyonce Realizes Her Full Potential

November 16: Destiny’s Child releases their fourth and final studio album, Destiny Fulfilled. This record is not as solid as The Writing’s On The Wall (but really, which DC3 record is?), but it has one of my all time favorite Destiny’s Child Songs, Girl, as well as Cater 2 U. It’s fine, they all did well after the breakup. Right, Michelle?

Ken Jennings Makes Jeopardy! Event Television

November 30: Ken Jennings’ 74-consecutive win streak finally ends at the hands of competitor Nancy Zerg. He’s won a total of $3,196,300 from the show, which is… a heck of a lot of money and knowledge. Question: Where is Nancy Zerg now?

BriWi Takes Over

December 2:  Tom Brokaw resigns as anchorman of NBC Nightly News after 22 years at the desk and is replaced by Brian Williams. Love ya Tommy B, but if you didn’t retire, we would have never been able to get MC BriWillie out of his shell.

 

Class of ’04: In Memoriam – Things That Existed in 2004 & Don’t Now

When you still feel young…ish, it’s easy to feel like high school graduation was just moments ago. But let’s face facts: a decade has passed, and we aren’t even living in the same world we were in in 2004. Queue up Wind Beneath My Wings and get ready to clap disrespectfully when you get excited about one of these – it’s time for our In Memorium.

Ecto Cooler

If you’re an ’04 grad, Ecto Cooler was probably a staple of your childhood. I can still taste it now – a thick, corn-syrupy, vaguely citrusy drink that was almost always room temperature, because I was usually drinking it from a Hi-C juice box that had been sitting in my coatroom for 4 hours. Now Ecto-Cooler really is but a slimy green ghost: it was renamed in 2001 and discontinued entirely in 2007.

I have a hunch that if I used organic ingredients, set myself up in a hipster enclave, and started making artisinal Ecto-Cooler, I could make a killing.

The WB

For us class of ’04 kids, The WB was our entertainment hub as soon as we became old enough for teen entertainment. From our middle school days watching Dawson’s Creek, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and Felicity, to our high school appreciation for Gilmore Girls and Smallville, this was essentially the TV network version of Teen People.

Teen People

… which also no longer exists. Although, when I read regular People, everyone is so damn young that I feel like it may as well be called Teen People, anyway. Get off my lawn, Ariana Grande.

The Mary-Kate and Ashley line at Wal-Mart

It was a big freaking deal when MK&A launched their “lifestyle line” at Wal-Mart, and it’s kind of hilarious now to realize that they were schilling maribu-lined bedside lamps for tweens while doing coke on the weekends. Now they are real-life designers, and although some MK&A items are still lingering on Wal-Mart shelves (according to the internet – sorry, I do not love you all enough to go to a bona fide Wal-Mart to find out), the full-fledged cosmetics/bedding/bath/clothing panoply is no longer.

Which sucks, because I can’t be the only ’04 girl who bought the best lip gloss of her LIFE from that brand.

Guys Who Were Born In The 1800s

RIP. Like, literally RIP. Ten years ago there were a pretty good number of folks alive who were born in the 1800s, but now the Lost Generation is… well, you know. The world’s oldest man just died (am I supposed to still call him that? Such a confusing honorific). Anyway, he was born in 1903. There are no more living World War I vets, either.  Shout-out to the five still-living women holding it down for the 19th Century ladies. I can’t help but hope that one of them is actually Samantha Parkington.

Samantha Parkington (And Molly, Felicity, And Kirsten)

Speaking of Samantha Parkington, everybody take your $30 doll-sized tea service and pour a little out for our homie. American Girl has discontinued those 90s girl status symbols Samantha, Molly, Felicity, and Kirsten. But that doesn’t stop us from wanting to dress like them. (1, 2, 3)

The Bush Administration

It seems like we’ve spent a lifetime listening to Conservative pundits complain about the president. Those eight years when it was Liberals complaining seem like but a whisper of a memory.

Kazaa

Today’s high school grads will never know that thing where you download a song to find that it has been replaced with a loud, static-y buzz due to copyright issues. They will also never know what it’s like to have their parents’ desktop computer crash every six months because you just can’t stop downloading illegal John Mayer tunes. Sorry, mom and dad.

My workplace recently sent out an email warning us against using Napster on company computers, and I was like “that’s cool, I didn’t know we had time-travelers from the early 2000s working here.”

Your Childhood Pet, Probably

If you had a beloved dog or cat in your childhood, it may have lived to see your 2004 graduation, but Bootsie or Spot has probably crossed the rainbow bridge by now.

Shea Stadium

Am I the only Mets fan in the house?

Blockbuster Video

How many middle school and high school sleepovers started with arguing about whether to get Titanic or Clueless on a trip to that blue-and-yellow rental house? Now all kids have to do is scroll through Netflix.

The Ball Pit At Chuck E. Cheese’s

Chuck E. Cheese: where kids were set free in a complex network of large PVC pipes and a pool, deeper than we were tall, filled with plastic balls, and expected to survive. It’s no wonder today’s helicopter parents don’t allow this. But really, as with Discovery Zone (also RIP) what we were discovering was ourselves. And, inevitably, a used band-aid.

Sun-In

Psych! I assumed this no longer existed, but I Googled it, and it does. Good. Today’s teens should be part of the time-honored tradition of saturating your hair, basking in the sun, and finding that either nothing happened or your hair turned orange and you got a sunburn.

Class of ’04: Celebrity Superlatives

Wasssuupppp?! This week we’re reflecting back to 2004 – aka the year Molly & I graduated high school. It’s been exactly 10 years this month ::insert quarter-life crisis freakout here::  since we received our diplomas and officially became “adults”, and while it seems like it happened just yesterday, it equally feels like lifetimes ago. All this week we’re looking back at pop culture, fashion, and all things early 2000s, but also fast forwarding a decade and reflecting on our 2004 selves with our 2014 selves. We’re putting it all out there, folks.

Today, I’m kicking it off with one of my personal extracurricular activities in high school: Yearbook. I know, hard to believe right? ‘But Traci, you’re so cool and hip, it’s hard to imagine you were in something so academic and somewhat nerdy like the Yearbook Club!’ You’re right, reader. Not only was I in choir and did theatre, I ALSO was part of putting the yearbook together.

In the spirit of my infinite coolness, here are some superlatives from a faux celebrity yearbook for the stars who took over Hollywood between 2000 and 2004 when we were impressionable teens and TRL ruled the world. Put on your sparkly flare jeans and let’s get started!

Best TV Host

Carson Daly

If there’s one show that will define our generation, it’s TRL. I rush home every weekday and obviously vote non-stop for BSB to be number one on the countdown. True story: I was the TRL fan of the week in 2002 and Carson showed my picture on TV AND he said my name!!! So maybe I’m a little biased, because we’re best friends, but whatevs.

Best Dressed

Paris Hilton

 Guys, this Paris Hilton girl is apparently a big deal and she has this weird show with her best friend Nicole Richie that’s like about them going to different parts of America and having different jobs even though they’re both uber rich. But I can’t help but notice Paris’ style. It’s so edgy and hip! I’m probably never going to wear anything like this, but I bet a lot of other girls will soon enough!

Most Likely to Succeed

Beyonce of Destiny’s Child

Through a whole bunch of lineup changes, DC3 finally settled with Beyonce, Kelly and Michelle, but the two longest members of the group, Beyonce and Michelle have always stood out. Okay, maybe just Beyonce. There’s just something about her that makes you want to see more. If she does solo stuff in the future, she’s definitely one to watch out for!

Biggest Prankster

Ashton Kutcher

The guy from That 70s Show has his own TV show about pranking celebrities, so basically nobody else deserves this title but Ashton. I mean, he got away with punking Justin Timberlake – that’s epic enough.

Best Couple

Britney and Justin

Speaking of Justin, I’m still not over the fact this perfect couple broke up in 2002, so let’s just pretend they’re still together, okay?

Favorite Celeb Couple On & Off-Screen

Adam Brody & Rachel Bilson

If Seth and Summer isn’t your favorite couple just turn around right now. The geeky loner guy gets the popular girl? That never happens. AND IN REAL LIFE TOO?! Stop it. (PS that pic is from a Halloween party where Adam was an astronaut and Rachel was a martian (?) and they’re with The OC creator Josh Schwartz & Summer Cohen’s mom, played by Melinda Clarke. I mean…)

Best Hair

Chris Kirkpatrick

Obviously.

Class Clown

Jimmy Fallon

Jimmy is totally hilarious on Saturday Night Live. Even though he’s leaving the show (which will never be the same without him) I know he’s gonna be a huge movie star. He even has a movie coming out with Queen Latifah that’s supposed to be really funny!

Most Athletic

Apolo Anton Ohno

Molly & I are probably a little too obsessed with America’s golden boy. Literally golden boy because he’s physically incapable of not winning gold medals at the Olympics. Also he’s so dreamy. Who knew short track speed skating could be so exhilarating (not me. didn’t even know it was a sport)?!?

Most Attractive

Heath Ledger

With The Patriot and A Knight’s Tale, Heath and his flowing hair are the stuff dreams are made of. And to top it all off – he’s Australian!!! That means he says things like G’Day and Vegemite!!! I’m not even going to admit how many posters I have of him on my wall…

Most Changed

Lindsay Lohan

lilo pt to mg

From Parent Trap to Mean Girls, I can’t believe Lindsay Lohan has grown up so much! It’s also hard to believe we’re the same age. But remember how cute she was in The Parent Trap and now she’s hanging out with Tina Fey and Lacey Chabert from Party of Five (still one of my fave shows). Hopefully this is a rollercoaster that only goes up for Linds!