Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Thank You Very Much, Regina Morrow

Before I begin, I would like to readily admit that I in no way have my finger on the pulse of Bogota night life. There are a few reasons for this.

Firstly, I have met a lot more people who look like this:

And this:

Than this:

While it is probably good to have the numbers of a few sergeants in my celly in case I ever find myself in a pinch, it is not real helpful in finding out where the party is at.

In addition to this, I have been a little less enthusiastic about going out since somehow finding myself in my 30s. My younger self would never have believed that there would ever come a time when I could have a perfectly nice Friday night with some yoga pants, a glass of Cabernet, and an episode of True Blood. But that time has totally come(and I am loving Pam even more than usual this season and I already loved her a lot).

Often times when I do force myself to put on a pair of pants that has both a button and a zipper, I find myself feeling more like an observer than a participant. I watch the youngsters dancing around to bad electronic music and start to feel a lot like a chaperon at a high school dance. I start to watch the kids in action. I see slightly snarky, but flirty faces and think "that should work well, good job little guy." I also watch the same snarky flirter buy his new lady friend a shot and think "that should wrap it up. Well, played, dude, well played". And yes it has crossed my mind that this type of almost lurking could come across as potentially creepy, but since I am not looking to pull a Demi Moore or a Linda Hogan I don't really care.

When I am not kept busy semi-creepily observing the dance moves and the pick up attempts like a borderline lurker, I can easily become a grump. All it takes is a single stepped on toe or an unpleasant bump and I can start to look like this:

Or this:

Obviously, there is probably a lot more partying going on in this town that I know about or am interested in participating in. However, I think that I would have to search it out or at the very least stop making those damn faces. However, I think that there is a misconception about Colombia that the streets are paved with cocaine and that everyone is constantly gnashing their teeth and making group trips to the bano when they are not busy salsa dancing. Sometimes when people ask me what it is like here they sound as if they envision that there is a Tony Montana (who, yes, I know is Cuban and not Colombian) hiding around every corner waiting to tell you to sat hello to his little friend.

If anything, I find Colombia to be far more conservative than I imagined. The few times I have come home a little bit late I felt like the guards at my building were silently saying "Tsk Tsk!" and everybody seems to be constantly hanging out with their families in much larger quantities of time than I think the average American could handle without bloodshed or therapy.

Am I bummed that I am not experiencing more late nights and danger while I am living here? Absolutely not. While I have a deep affection for wine (which, like most Irish Americans and people in their 30s without a sponsor, I do not really consider a form of alcohol but more like something that all grown ups should drink with dinner and ,no, I do not truly trust people over the age of 6 who drink milk with their meal unless they have spent some time at Betty Ford or they are Amish.) I have never really been interested in anything else (except for sometimes beer and the occasional whiskey). 

Have I abstained from the white stuff because of a strong moral fiber? A deep respect for the law? Out of fear that even those who love me the most could not tolerate my already loquacious self talking even more? Because I have terrible luck and get caught every time I do anything even slightly wrong and after watching Oz and Locked Up Abroad felt life in the big house was probably not for me so it was best to just be a law abiding citizen?

Well, I'm sure all of those things play a part. I would say that Punky Brewster also has a little bit to do with it. She was abandoned at the mall with nothing but her bandannas, mismatched clothes, and a mangy dog. She knew about danger. When she chanted "Just Say No with Punky Power!", I listened. I figured she knew what she was talking about.

But really it's mostly because of Regina Morrow. If you don't know who Regina Morrow is you were probably not a tween in the 80s who read EVERY SINGLE SWEET VALLEY HIGH BOOK. I was.

My best friend Elizabeth and I were very competitive. Each Easter we would compete to see who could eat the most Cadbury Cream Eggs (it is shocking we were not exactly skinny minnies). We would compete to see who got the best grades in school and we would compete to see who could read the most books. For several years we were in a race to see who could read the most Sweet Valley High Books and it was always neck and neck.

The series was about these two beautiful blond twins, Elizabeth and Jessica, who lived in Sweet Valley, California and shared a red fiat. There was something about this that sounded pretty magical to a brunette growing up in Worcester, Mass. There was the smart twin and the bitchy twin and the series followed their adventures as the two most popular girls at their school in Southern California.

Regina Morrow was friends with the smart twin, Elizabeth. She was deaf for most of the series. However, thanks to a radical surgery somewhere around book 30, her hearing was restored and she started going out with rich, bad boy Bruce Patton. However, their relationship was not built to last. Regina did not handle their break up well and fell in with a bad crown and began experimenting with drugs and alcohol.

On the Edge, SVH #40, detailed how she started making bad choices in attempts to mend her broken heart. At the end of the book she is at a party and tries just a tiny bit of cocaine. Guess what??? It triggers an unknown congenital heart defect and Regina dies on the spot. I remembered thinking it was so no fair because A. she had just gotten her hearing restored a few books ago and had barely any time to enjoy it and B. she had spent the majority of the series being so good and the one book where she is a little bad she ends up DEAD.

Being somewhere around 4th or 5th grade (Elizabeth and I were really good readers, so sometimes we read books that we were a little too young to understand. Around this same time we also read Less Than Zero and learned what a snuff film was.)we knew nothing about drugs and were shocked at Regina's untimely demise. We discussed it at length in hushed tones. Could we have secret and mysterious heart defects that could suddenly kill us? Is this what went on in high school? Were teenagers just dropping dead all of the time? We were terrified. Since this was pre-Internet, we didn't have many tools determine how plausible this scenario was. There was only so much we could figure out using a dictionary and some old Cosmos.

When I look back and try to figure out why I am pretty square I have to say it is largely because of Regina Morrow. I was never tempted to do much experimentation because I always pictured Regina being carried out of the party in a body bag THE ONE TIME SHE WAS BAD. When I would hear stories about wild parties all I could think was "DON'T YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO REGINA MORROW??? WHAT WERE YOU GUYS THINKING??? DO YOU HAVE A DEATH WISH OR SOMETHING??? It just seemed like too big a risk. I bet if Lindsay Lohan head read the Sweet Valley High books when she was little everything would have turned out differently.

As a result, I am more than happy with my very tame night life in Bogota. I am sure there are people living it up right now doing a variety of things that are dangerous and possibly illegal. Since I have no interest in pulling a Regina Morrow and I am pretty sure that the places where these things take place probably don't allow their patrons to wear yoga pants, I am more than fine leaving all of that a mystery.

Maybe if they really want to win the drug war down here they should try translating the Sweet Valley High series into Espanol. That's some scary sh*t.


  1. now i know why matt bought the fiats...

  2. Totally! Don't you remember how much he liked the SVH tape I gave him. I believe it was book #3, Playing With Fire. He played it in the car for months!