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In 1997, we lived in our car, listened to Blink-182, and dreamed about the girls we’d never date.

When I hear the name Blink-182, I’m transported back to 1997. I’m sitting shotgun in the “Kougar Mobile” armed with a fully loaded Super Soaker and a French Vanilla Coffee Coolatta. I’m in the car with all of my friends- I can count them on two fingers, Chris and Sam. Chris is driving. Sam and I alternate between the front and back seats, depending on who yells shotgun first.  It’s Friday night; we want to meet girls. And yet, we still drive over to the empty Costco parking lot to skate and line up shopping cart barricades only to smash through them with the “Kougar Mobile.” We break the left headlight, but it’s cool.

“Wasting Time” is a song on Blink-182’s debut record Cheshire Cat. One of the lyrics is, “I really want to ask her out, but my ego could never take it and even if I got the balls, you know that the cougar would never make it.” The “cougar” was Mark Hoppus’ car and so our version, the “Kougar Mobile,” was born. Don’t ask, I don’t know. Its origins have become lost to history, like homework, my locker combination and the rest of high school.

Sam was the first to play us Blink-182’s Cheshire Cat and I loved it. We had a copy of this in the Kougar’s tape deck at all times. And then came Dude Ranch.

I haven’t listened to this album since about 1998, but I can still see why it appealed to me so much.  I remember sitting in the backseat of the Kougar Mobile and making out with a girl while Chris and his girlfriend were in the front seats driving us to Dunkin’ Donuts. She was only the second girl I ever kissed, the first was on the boardwalk in Wildwood, NJ the year before. After we kissed, we had more spit on our cheeks than in our mouths. Back at Chris’ girl’s place (her parents were away for the week, if I remember right) the girl I had shared a face full of spit with had lay down in a room waiting for me, alone. I still remember Chris’ girl saying, “Go in there, she’s dying to give someone a handjob.” This girl was visiting from some other state. I got nervous and never got my handjob.  I think she ended up giving one to our friend Mario instead, and I resented him for a while.

So this is how I think of Blink-182’s Dude Ranch: too much spit on my cheeks and no handjob. But it’s still pretty good.

Overly earnest harmonies, four on the floor drum beats and a whole lotta dick jokes, the ideal anthems for young confused punks in oversized pants and Etnies, without a clue in the world as to how to socialize normally and get laid.

My relationships to girls in high school were like that of a boy afraid of his own shadow. Even when I supposedly had a “girlfriend,” we would talk on the phone and then awkwardly sit next to each other at school, mostly silent. And then after a few weeks of not doing anything beyond that, we would break up and I’d be sad about it. Sad, like heartbroken, as if we dated for years or something.

I still remember the first two girls I supposedly dated, I didn’t even ask out. I had a friend ask them out for me on the phone. The first girl I actually asked out face-to-face said no. She was a transfer from the French American school and was a raver. She said no, and then another night she said she changed her mind. Then she dumped me on the phone. Then there was Robyn. She was a riot girl who lived in Manhattan. It didn’t hurt that between my Blink-182 and Millencolin records sat a nice collection of Bikini Kill, Bratmobile and Sleater-Kinney albums (I knew what I was doing…maybe). But we lost touch when she found out I had a “girlfriend” at my high school, and I made fun of her for having hairy legs. I was very mature.

“I can’t be too cool in a tree with my pants down.”

“Voyeur” was the second track on Dude Ranch, and I’m still not sure why this wasn’t a single. My friends and I weren’t very cool and we knew this- though we still thought we were cooler than everyone else in our town (and fuck, we were right). Though we never watched from a branch outside of a girl’s window while she stripped, we definitely took liberties with the laundry baskets at girl’s houses. Especially our friend Bill’s sister’s panty drawer (sorry).  Bill’s sister dated some big football playing Sloth-looking guy, but she was really hot. We’d just turn her photo of him over as we collected her thongs and bras off the floor. I’ll never forget Chris actually stripping down, putting on one of her thongs and running around the house. Bill was freaking out. His sister would never say a word to us, it was like she knew. But she didn’t.

“Degenerate” was the perfect song about being a fuck up and doing stupid shit for no good reason at all, getting caught, and then doing more stupid shit. It was us driving around in the Kougar Mobile shooting unsuspecting yuppies and old ladies with a super soaker out the window, while picking up trash on trash night, leaving it in the yard of a kid we didn’t like from school and then picking up some Taco Bell “to boogie” (which is how one of their employees referred to their “to go” option). One time Chris, Sam and I got called to the principal’s office and were questioned about said trash. We were also questioned about a “coupon” that surfaced, offering one free ass-kicking compliments of our band Boomhower at the time (don’t Google it, you’ll find nothing).

Then there was Emma. She was a girl I was “dating” and we were just hanging out at the kennel Chris worked at after it closed. We inhaled some weird gas from a machine and then Chris took our blood for fun (we were pretty bored). We figured out that this kid we all didn’t like happened to have a crush on my “girlfriend.”  Emma called him and invited him out for some pizza, we stopped at the local Stop & Shop and picked up the perfect pie. We had the girl throw it in his face as he approached us. God we were awful.

We were awful in that reliable way anyone whose biggest heartbreak was an imaginary breakup with an imaginary girlfriend is. Every song our band wrote was about the girls we dated, kinda dated or wanted to date.  There was “Robbed by a Riot” for the riot girl, “Maybe She Likes Me” for the raver, “Chemistry Blues” for one of the hot preppie girls I used to like confessing my love for randomly in the hallways, and “Anti-Love Retard,” about a cheerleader girl I used to also enjoy expressing my love to randomly in the hallways, though she always seemed to be dating some big jock.

On the last day of school, one year this cheerleader signed my yearbook and wrote “Love you, too.” She included her phone number and said to call her over the summer. Being the awkward, weird teenager I was, I never called.