While I sometimes look back on my life and experience a full body cringe at some of the things I’ve done, there are actually a few things in which I am proud of myself for having never participated. Among them:
1. Getting a Rachel haircut
2. Having kids
3. Agreeing to an adjustable rate mortgage
4. Dating a man who wore a necklace over a turtleneck
Obviously that’s not a complete list. Those are just examples of things I’m glad to have never done, and although they may seem simple or stupid to some, you’ll just have to trust me when I say that the list of things I have done that are regrettable is far longer and more horrifically detailed, and that I will take whatever personal pride I can get.
Another thing that I am proud of never having done is dating a guy like Troy Dyer. Some of the newer, younger readers might have trouble with this, so to them I say: Reality Bites is on Netflix Instant. Do yourselves a favor and go watch it, and remember that at one time, not a goddamn thing in that movie was dated. No, not even AIDS tests.
Another thing you should remember: Reality Bites came into the world before the Internet As You Know It existed, meaning that when Troy answers the phone and says “You’ve reached the winter of our discontent,” he wasn’t referring to a meme he liked on Tumblr. At one time, people thought and said and did things entirely independently of the Internet or it’s unwarranted expectations of fame, and they didn’t stay up until 6am on Facebook or playing video games in order to be needlessly depressed about life.
Speaking of the Internet, I should also warn you that Reality Bites was before cell phones. So all that chasing one another around town with payphones and answering machines? It actually happened. And I know it’s one thing to watch Casablanca and know fully that you are looking at another era, but I also know that through some magic of prescription medication, neither Winona Ryder nor Ethan Hawke have aged since Reality Bites, and that Janeane Garofalo actually looks younger. So if you are unable to look at this film without understanding the entirely different context of A World Without Certain Things, then you may be completely confused by what I am about to write.
I’ve never dated a Troy Dyer, thank god. While other girls I knew were losing their shit for unwashed boys who said pseudo-intellectual things and considered Asshole to be a viable personality choice, I remained unimpressed. To me, boys like Troy weren’t that much cooler or smarter or more interesting than anyone else. Fine, they’d read some books. But so had I, and no one’s use of sarcasm as a defense mechanism was going to make me feel dumb. As much as boys like Troy talked about being better than everyone else for obtuse reasons like they once went through a Marxist phase, I wasn’t intimidated. I wasn’t combative about it, either, because it was obvious to me (even to a younger, dumber, less-informed-about-assholery-as-an-STD me) that boys like Troy Dyer loved it when you got combative about them, and not in the “sticks and stones may break my bones but whips and chains excite me way,” either. Boys like Troy Dyer skulked around looking for fights. They wanted people to disagree with them because it made their anger righteous, and they wanted people to engage them in verbal fisticuffs because they were totally incapable of kicking anyone’s ass for real. I didn’t fight with boys like Troy Dyer; I ignored them. (I may have been slow to learn some things, but I have always been a master at not giving someone else the satisfaction.) My friends dated boys like Troy Dyer and I looked the other way, and years later, after my friends had been dumped by them and I ran into them at bars, they told me that they’d once had a thing for me, but had never pursued it because, in addition to dating my friends, I always seemed like “a stuck up bitch.”
Well. That’s nice, Troy. Thanks for the shitty compliment, and may I say that the feeling was not reciprocated, not because I was “a stuck up bitch,” but because you never washed your hair or behaved like a decent human being. And for all the bullshit capitalist posturing at my corporate job that I hate so much now and always knew I would hate, I still found your refusal to participate in The Way Things Are to be even bullshittier, because instead of acknowledging that a system is in place and working to change it, all you did was listen to crappy music and complain about everyone else’s money. You fucking tool. I hate you even more for making me prefer Ben Stiller to you. Do you know what that is, what you did? Made me prefer Ben Stiller? I fucking hate Ben Stiller, because even back then you knew he’d get his teeth fixed someday and do the same Zoolander schtick over and over.
Perhaps the grossest example of why Troy Dyer is an asshole is when he finds Winona Ryder making out with Ben Stiller in the car while Peter Frampton’s “Baby, I Love Your Way” is playing, and he dickfully mocks her later, both about the song and her choice to sleep with someone who doesn’t share his own principles. Really, dude? You want to hate on Peter Frampton, which I think may not even be secondary to the fact that you’re sitting in the dark alone? Look at your life. Look at your choices.
Although maybe this wouldn’t piss me off so much if the film wasn’t basically about how awesome Troy is in spite because of all this, and how his terrible attitude somehow makes him perfect for Lelaina. Because this group of friends who can’t ever pay their bills is supposed to be cool, we’re supposed to love them including Troy, and also aspire to that kind of directionless, decency-less, Internet-less life.
He doesn’t change, by the way. Troy. It seems like he does with that brown suited speech at the end and then the shared answering machine message, but I always knew that he’d do exactly what he warned Lelaina he’d do. He’d be a dick and run away and do everything she hated, until eventually she realized that he wouldn’t work or contribute in any way and would never stop being such a fucking assface about everything. Boys like Troy never grew up. They never got better or kinder, and when cell phones and Internet were invented in their current form, they refused to take part in them as the new herald of the “I don’t own a TV” rebellion. Until the second generation of the iPhone came out, at which point they became insufferable hipsters with Instagram access.
OH MY GOD I FORGOT THAT LISA LOEB SONG WAS AT THE END OF THIS!!! Hahahahahahahaaaaaaa!