jeanine fritz

M erry Christmas. Since this is the season to celebrate the arrival of a new kid in town, who would soon become incredibly popular (Jesus), I'm gonna tell you a story that's not similar to that one in any manner. Settle in...

My family moved to Boulder County from California when I was in 8th grade. As miserable as I was to be starting somewhere new, I also felt a little bit smug: I'd seen plenty of episodes of DeGrassi Junior High and knew the second the teacher introduced me in homeroom, my social standing would rise. I'd heard Colorado was two years behind in fashion, so I'd essentially be from the future. I had shoes with zippers on them and jeans that'd been washed in acid; I'd be as cool as Michael Knight and his talking car, Kitt. I would be exotic and different and fancy -- I would be the cool kid.

This turned out not to be true.

I flailed around a little while trying to understand why the kids wearing puff-paint teddy bear sweatshirts didn't understand I was light-years ahead of them, and then overtime, I gave up.

And now whenever I find myself "going back to Cali," as NOBODY IN CALIFORNIA EVER SAYS, I get to reap all the nastiness my 14-year-old self sowed.

This current trip in particular has highlighted how supremely lame and behind the times I've become.


I used a paper-boarding pass to get through security and onto a plane. Somewhere along the line, the cool kids started using electronic boarding passes: weird little QR code things they just flash to Those Who See You In Your Underwear and bam: security dude waves them through. At the gate, they flash that code to Those Who Decide Whether You Get Good Headphones or Not, and bam: gate boss lets them through. One QR code lady bumped me in line, gave my boarding pass the stink-eye and when I turned around to see what her deal was, she threatened to shove me in a locker.

"I have GOT to start trying to keep up already," I mumbled as I sat down next to my seatmates (one of whom was presumably using his cellphone to cure cancer, the other an iPad to master Japanese.) I pulled out a book.

The rental car situation was far worse. I normally drive a 1990 Toyota pickup. Like many of you, it's now old enough to drink. It boasts a two-cup cup holder; enough room for a driver, a bag of fast food and a yoga mat; and to top it off, it's got a heater with two settings: Off and Shoot Hot Air Onto Your Driving Foot. The dashboard of the rental car looked like the cockpit of a fighter jet and I spent a solid five minutes simply attempting to turn on the headlights. Maybe this car is like Kitt, I thought. I asked it for help. It ignored me.

I'm certain one of the three display screens is for GPS, but I couldn't get that to work either. I'm not using these hand-written directions! I'm on vacation; it's time to start being fabulous and forward-thinking! I downloaded a navigation app featuring a cartoon mascot who resembles a sperm with a smiley face.

Because I couldn't figure out how to sync the phone through the car's speakers, I popped my headphones in and awaited instruction.

The GPS system, or "Bossy Tom, the Worrywart Backseat Driver" as he soon became known, not only led me around, reminding me every thirty seconds that I had a turn to make in an hour, but also periodically instructed, "Watch out, a car is on the shoulder!" or "Watch out, rain is expected!" or "Watch out, the police are 500 yards ahead!"

Shut the hell up, Tom. I can't drive, light this bong and listen to you prattle on at the same time.

Out of spite, Tom tacked an extra thirty minutes onto the drive and then killed my phone battery -- forcing me to stop and buy a charger I could use in the car.

I'm halfway through vacation, and committed to returning to Boulder a little savvier than I left. And I shall saunter into the bar and regale folks with stories of QR codes and cars with TVs in the dashboard, and my bossy, smiling, sperm-sherpa will probably tell me how to get to hell.