My life will always boil down to two eras: B.C. and A.D. B.C. stands for, of course, Before Clerks - when I was just a fat guy, not The Fat Guy Who Made CLERKS. A.D. marks After Dante - the existence I've led since Miramax bought my first flick back in 1994.
What follows happened 1990, B.C.
My friend Bryan Johnson and I tried to attend Brookdale Community College (aka, The University of Southern Lincroft) a few times in the early 90's. The reason? We WERE Dante and Randal: over-educated and seriously fucking lazy outsiders who didn't drink, smoke or do drugs. Our post-high school routine went something like this: we'd try a little college until we realized it wasn't for us, then quit and hurl ourselves into the job market.
And "market" was the key word, as it was all convenience store counters for me and Big Bry. Convenience stores were easy and never really felt like work: you met interesting people and you could eat snacks and drink all the chocolate milk you wanted. But what would eventually happen is Bry and I would start getting terrified that the rest of our lives were fucked because we didn't get college degrees. All our high school betters were away at schools, working towards their Bachelors' and we couldn't even get it together enough to get an Associate's Degree at a local C.C. So we'd psych each other up to be like everyone else, head back to Brookdale, and enroll in a new round of courses that never exactly indicated I'd grow up to be a podcaster.
But one afternoon following Criminology class (yes: we briefly thought about being Batman), a career in entertainment was the furthest thing from my mind, as we rolled up on the Windmill Deli for lunch. This session at Brookdale was framed around post-class chicken salad sandwich runs through Little Silver on the way home from school. And it was with a mouthful of what would be the finest chicken salad I've ever enjoyed before or since that I punched holes in the boat of our Friday night.
"My Mother wants me home at 7 tonight," I told Bry, thus killing the evening's plans: eating bakery-fresh chocolate chip cookies from the new super food store, watching CLOCKWORK ORANGE again, then going for a midnight rollerblade skate through Highlands.
"You're twenty years old," Bry marveled, shaking his head.
"I'm nineteen 'til August," I pointed out, trying to steal back a little dignity. "And I still live in their house, so I still live by their rules."
"Didn't you get in trouble for playing rap music last week?"
"Only because Mom heard Schooly D say 'fuck' on my tape."
"The fucking indignity. Can't a man even listen to shit music..."
"Fuck you, Yngwie Malmsteem Jr. Schooly D rules..."
"...without getting a lecture from Don and Grace? You gotta start standing up to your parents. Start with your music."
Bry encouraged subtle rebellion in the way of a rack system purchase. This would, indeed, be defined as somewhat subversive in my house: I already had a record player and a tape recorder to play cassettes. To bring into Grace and Don Smith's lower, lower, LOWER middle class, single-salary home a brand new stereo system with fancy wooden case, glass door, and the addition of the new fangled Compact Disc technology? I might as well have jammed hundred dollar bills up my ass in front of my parents and flicked a Bic on each as I farted 'em back out as dusty legal tender.
I quickly decided Bry was right, opting not to dwell too long on the fact that Bry had, in the past, gotten into fist fights with his Father on the front lawn. Instead, life-coached by my best friend, we went to Macy's and I bought a rack system, complete with a three-slot CD player. And to fill two of those slots, I made my very first Compact Disc purchases.
Now mind you, this was 1990: there was really great music out there to buy, as there had been for decades. And out of all the selections available to me, I bought Billy Joel's THE STRANGER and a quiet storm soul collection called SLOW GROOVES...
Al B. Sure's NITE AND DAY!
Al Jareua's AFTER ALL!
Force MD's TENDER LOVE!
Atlantic Starr's ALWAYS!
Chaka Khan's THROUGH THE FIRE!
Naturally, I took shit from Bry about SLOW GROOVES the whole ride home. Bryan Johnson, circa 1990 B.C., was an R-rated MAD Magazine made flesh; so Al B. Sure's NITE AND DAY became "I'll Be Sure to tell everyone you bought NITE WITH GAYS." Once home, as we unloaded the rack system out of Bry's Camaro trunk and into my bedroom, I naturally took shit from my Mom as well. Mom told my Dad, and he piled a little shit on, but he also knew he'd be using the rack system a bunch, so his admonishment was simply "Stop listening to Bryan Johnson. And who the hell is Al B. Sure?"
So, at age 19, I got grounded for making a large, unnecessary, un-returnable purchase. Thankfully, the grounding was only a year. At the end of the grounding, I'd direct CLERKS at age 21.
The lesson here, kids? Don't ever listen to your best friend's advice.
And I'll give you one guess at to who still refers to me as Kev "Slow Grooves" Smith.