Thursday, June 24, 2021

Life & Style

Goth Girls

She walked in wearing all black and sporting spiked hair and multiple earrings. I was standing there in a purple short-sleeved sweater sporting a pageboy bob. This girl is going to hate me, I thought. But she didn’t. Well, eventually she didn’t.

I think of that moment as I’m talking to my niece. It’s the night before she goes off to college and I tell her about meeting my roommate, a goth girl from the shoreline.

“Oh yeah,” I say. “She was goth and I was a preppy from Princeton Junction. It never should have worked at all.”

Her side of the room had posters of Robert Smith and sheets of notebook paper filled with poetry about ravens, masks, and black gardens, all hung askew. My side of the room had a poster of Tower Bridge in London (hung straight) and another poster of a fluffy kitten (also hung straight).

When the parental units were gone and I was alone in the room with Goth Girl, I couldn’t think of what to say at all. I mean at all. We finally decided, in order to avoid more awkward silence and because we didn’t know another soul on campus, to walk together down to the local shabby market and get something to eat. When in doubt, go for food.

I remember the walk very well. I was wondering why I wore such a dorky sweater instead of a basic T-shirt and if my wearing such a dorky sweater would cause my new roomie to kill me in my sleep rather than deal with me. I wondered if we would get annoyed at each other and fight about stupid little things until one of us went to the R.A. and put in a request to be moved. I wondered if she was thinking the exact same things I was thinking.

The sliding door to the little market opened with a whoosh and cool air-conditioning rushed at us. I never should have worn a sweater, even a short-sleeved one, in August. The icy fridge air of the store felt good. We walked in and then we both just stopped. Completely. We were blocking the door but didn’t even think to care.

“Hey,” said Goth Girl with a nudge to my arm. “We can get whatever we want!”

“That’s exactly what I was thinking!” I said.

“No one can stop us,” she said with a smile.

“No one is here to stop us!”

We stocked up on Cap’n Crunch, Froot Loops, pizza Goldfish crackers, and Goober Grape. I had never even heard of Goober Grape, so Goth Girl introduced me to it. She also ended up introducing me to some pretty great music. I will always be a Cure fan.

We’d go down to the cafeteria and cause a stir just by walking in together. We didn’t make sense. I was Molly Ringwald from Sixteen Candles and she was Lydia from Beetlejuice. We enjoyed being roommates so much, though, that when we got singles as sophomores we didn’t like them. We roomed together again for our remaining two years.

My niece is now poised on the edge of the college cliff. She’s as nervous about it as I was all those years ago.

When it’s time for me to leave, I hug my niece and say, “It’s scary and you’re going to hate it, but that’s okay. You won’t hate it for long. You’ll meet some great people and have the time of your life. You really will.”

I remember people saying this kind of thing to me when I was going off to college and I didn’t believe a word of it. I feared college would be like high school. I feared I wouldn’t meet anyone or do anything good. I feared I would fail out and lose out and be stressed out.

I had nothing to fear, as it turned out.

So, my niece is embarking on her own college adventure and I hope she’s half as lucky as I was. I hope, at least, that she writes some bad goth poetry and tapes it to her dorm room wall.

Juliana Gribbins is a writer who believes that absurdity is the spice of life. Her book Date Expectations is winner of the 2017 Independent Press Awards, Humor Category and winner of the 2016 IPPY silver medal for humor. Write to her at Read more of her columns at

Juliana Gribbins is the Columnist for Zip06. Email Juliana at .

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