Hello, my name is Casey Smith. I’m 32 years young and I have accepted the fact that rehashing my childhood almost destroyed my life. Most people would call rock bottom taking Buzzfeed Rocco’s Modern Life quizzes at the bus station you reside in, but that’s the power of nostalgia taking over rational thought.
My First Nostalgia Experience
What started as an entertaining Rugrats clip found on my Facebook feed quickly grew into an obsession that held my paychecks hostage and drove my loved ones away.
Did I know how bad things would get? Absolutely not.
Did I see the banned episode of Angry Beavers in which they discuss their syndication and cancellation? You bet and I tried buying an animation cell of the episode.
Just like my childhood, my mid-twenties problem was grounded in curiosity and innocence. I’d wonder what Tommy Pickles looks like as an adult and scour the internet tirelessly for a rendering of what he would like today (regardless if it was official or unofficial). Then, my nostalgia curiosity would begin branching off into other popular Saturday morning cartoons. I’d wonder if Hey Arnold! room remotes could exist in real life and wonder how much would these room remotes cost for installation. Although most of these nostalgia sufferings were in private, the red flags already were bubbling to the surface in my social circles. Visiting my family during the holidays was out of the question, as tailoring my bedroom to cater to my favorite cartoons was my main focus. Even if I had visited the ones who loved me, they could only handle so many jokes about farts and boogers from their promising young adult.
The Day I Bought A “Retro” Tee
Much like a haircut that looks as if one doesn’t get a haircut or purchasing a pair of new jeans that look worn, I bought a retro tee to seek fellow fans of nostalgia. The retro tee carried the iconic Star Wars logo across the chest, with ringer sleeves/collar to imply “it’s old” for reasons beyond you and I that are reserved for marketing purposes.
The shirt was a moderate success at work and became a social tool, as it served its purpose when seeking fellow “nostalgists” to discuss things we enjoyed as children. However, it was only the tip of the iceberg when it came to my sick, twisted Nickelodeon fun fact perversion that became abundantly clear with friends I had established through the workplace. The moment Artie “The Strongest Man in the World” became my screen saver, banned Ren & Stimpy episodes replaced drinks with coworkers.
Goodbye Old Friends; Hello New Friends
Things started to get really blurry during this time if it had nothing to do with a convention – which is fairly ironic considering the conventions in question were based on nostalgia. Regardless, for what I missed in mindless bar banter with work friends, I made up for in Lou Ferrigno meet and greets. I met like-minded friends at the conventions who took never growing up to bold extremes – if the gas in their parent’s car allowed it. Long story short: Work friends took a back seat; New friends forwarded selfies with Kevin Conroy and Catdog fan-fiction.
As for the conventions, they became my shady stomping grounds and attendees became my dealers. For example: If I was at a convention and had a mid-90s cartoon trapped in my vaguest of memory, I had human encyclopedias on hand to not only tell me what it was called, but what network it aired on a Saturday morning, who voiced the characters, and where I could see the cartoons have sex (which is where the conversation would abruptly end).
Rock Bottom with Stimpy
It was the moment I was trying to barter with a Stimpy plush toy at a Dairy Queen in Missouri when a kind patron realized something was wrong. As a former “nostalgist”, they could tell by the glazed, distant look in my eyes that I was lost in a deep nostalgic bliss. I needed help because there was no way a grown man could enjoy making plush toys fart as much as I did.
Once the police arrived, I had to explain the situation regarding my journey and the convention I planned on visiting in Kansas City… which is when I realized that I had no funds left in my bank account and I had chalked my ID with a Crayola crayon to match Tommy Pickle’s postal address. The police took me in with the assertion I was addicted to crystal meth, but my addiction to childhood whimsy was severe enough to be misconstrued as such.
Reflecting & Looking Forward
It’s been at least four years since I’ve watched a Saturday morning program from the 90s and two years since I’ve made a joke that ended with a bodily function. I’m lucky to realize the severity of my problem before overdosing on nostalgia and moving back in with my parents. My old friends have taken me back in, with them being supportive of my current pop culture tastes and willing to listen to my stories concerning Lou Ferrigno saying yes to conventions – if the price is right. Being trapped in a echo chamber of who I was 20 years ago wasn’t healthy, but I’m lucky to say that being a slave to who I was doesn’t define me anymore.