Rock ‘n’ Roll High School 22: Oh My, Robert Smith, What Mysterious Eyes You Have

With Kerry Cantwell’s RNRHS entry, we explore the high school girl tradition of wallpapering bedroom walls with posters. This is an art in which I was very talented. John Taylor and his delightfully messy sun-bleached hair was my muse, but that’s the beauty of this pursuit–any male object of desire will work. I’m not convinced from Kerry’s answer that she thought of Robert Smith “that way”, but she DID have his poster on her ceiling, which suggests a certain, shall I say, intimacy. I love the Cure, but Robert Smith never really floated my boat. Such is the fickle heart of an adolescent girl. The heart wants what the heart wants. It is very important when plastering your bedroom with posters that there be a minimum of white space. It will ruin the effect. You want to be enveloped by the presence of your dream guy, even if that means you’re doing your homework with fifty pairs of eyes on you. To a lot of guys (and Kerry’s mom), the whole concept is beyond creepy, but they don’t understand that the hobby serves two purposes very well. It creates a retreat from the reality of just how sucky it is to be a teenage girl AND it makes you feel like you are the center of attention, something every girl needs at a time when you can’t quite figure out why the world doesn’t revolve around you.

Kerry F. Cantwell

Paul VI Catholic High School, Fairfax, VA, Class of ’91, Currently: College Success Instructor (I teach college students how to be good college students and decide what they really want to do with themselves); drummer for Actual Persons Living or Dead, Scene of the Crime Rovers

Band and/or song that reminds you the most of high school: High school, to be brief, sucked. I disliked the school, I disliked the students, I disliked my friends, I disliked everything. My only saving grace was my own self-imposed melancholia. I think the song (and album, frankly) that reminds me the most of high school is probably “Black Celebration” by Depeche Mode. It encapsulated the gloominess I believed I was experiencing. The worst part is that I was a good kid: didn’t drink or smoke or sleep with people. I just sat in my room with my candles and my white Christmas lights and wrote ridiculously tortured poems and listened to Depeche Mode all the time. Geez, even I think that’s so boring!

Favorite piece of music memorabilia (poster, t-shirt, etc.) in high school: This would have to be any one of the 12 Cure posters that I had on my bedroom walls. The walls and ceiling of my room were plastered with so many posters that there was almost no white space left. One afternoon, my mom came into my room and lay down on my bed with me. She immediately started laughing and said that seeing Robert Smith’s creepy face looking down from the ceiling scared the hell out of her. She wasn’t sure how I didn’t have nightmares every night. For the record, many of those posters are still in a poster tube in my closet right now waiting for the right moment.

Band that you hated that everyone else at school seemed to love: It’s a three-way tie because, to me, these are all the same band: The Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin. I don’t know what it is about the Catholic school boys, but they loved the classic rock and the hippy rock. All the jocks would sit out in their fancy cars in the parking lot after school and crank up their “Sugar Mag” or “Stairway to Heaven” and jock it up out there. UGH! I couldn’t get on board with any of it. I just rode home every day on the bus with my Walkman and my Smiths tapes to avoid it all. Those three bands still activate my gag reflex without exception.

Best show or concert you saw in high school: I’m afraid I have two here. After my sophomore year (July 15, 1989), my brother chaperoned two of my girlfriends and I to Merriwether Post Pavilion to see New Order, PiL and the Sugarcubes. I think I still have my New Order t-shirt from that show! It was amazing! The first rock show I ever saw NOT at an outdoor amphitheater was a free show that the Dead Milkmen played at George Mason University. The show was, essentially, in a gymnasium with TERRIBLE acoustics. It was essentially 40 college students and then me and my high school friends in a gigantic WELL-LIT room with eternal echo. The Dead Milkmen HATED the show because the sound was so bad and there was no one there, but we had an amazing time, and I learned that I needed to see as much live rock as I could.

Optional bonus question: Best high school make-out song: This is a tricky question. Is it the song that was playing during my best high school make-out session? That would likely have been The Cure’s “Pornography.” (I only had make-out sessions with one person in high school, and this is all we ever listened to, so it’s a good bet this was our soundtrack.)

2 Comments on “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School 22: Oh My, Robert Smith, What Mysterious Eyes You Have

  1. I think we were at the same Dead Milkmen concert! I found this page while looking for when the DM played GMU. I remember it was the evening after I’d seen Rush play in Richmond. I was deaf in one of my ears from that show and after dropping off my buddy at UVA, decided to check out the Milkmen back at Mason. I left there deaf in the other ear. It was in the basement of the original Student Union building and yes, the acoustics were horrible. The upside is it was the one and only time I ever slam-danced.

    That must’ve been a great show at Merriweather. I saw The Cure at the Cap Center in 92 or 93. Think it was the Disintegration tour.

  2. I was also at the DM show at GMU, I was the lead singer in The Burn, we opened for them, and it was our very first live show. That, combined w/ the horrible acoustics, probably didn’t come off well. We probably had less ear damage because we were on stage. If anyone ever stumbles on flyers, setlists, or anything from that show, lmk. We got to hang out with the Milkmen for a couple of minutes. Loved them before, and they were great guys. Manager looked like Cliff Huxtable. Horribly underrated band.

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