I was flipping through a magazine in the past week or so, and I cannot for the life of me remember which one, but one of the questions they posted to current celebutards was “What would you want with you on a desert island?”
And there, mixed in with the Taylor Lautners, Chloe Kardashians and Joe Jonases, was none other than someone I never, ever wanted to hear from again—in fact, someone I’ve pretty much completely wiped from my memory as if they never existed. Someone so smug, so pretentious and precious, that I was pretty certain they were long gone.
Then there she is! Sandwiched in the gossip pages of some rag, and I started having flashbacks. The Earth Mother outfits, the Birkenstocks, the hairy armpits, Lilith Fair—fucking Lilith Fair!—yes, this person who embodied all that ’90s wave of faux female empowerment that ending up having all the riot grrl power of a Massengill commercial.
I’m talking about fucking Natalie Merchant. (This is the second time in recent weeks I have encountered Ms. Merchant. The first being in Costa Rica, when a young Australian boy brought out his acoustic guitar and started strumming away a version of Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith’s “Because the Night”–which reminded me of 10,000 Maniacs and God I hated that cover–to impress a couple sloppy-looking blonde girls on the beach. I nearly vomited.)
Now, I was not cool in the early ’90s. I grew up in a cultural vacuum, which pretty much consisted of one halfway decent classic rock’n’roll station (thanks much to you, 95 KGGO, for properly introducing me to the Stones). This was before the Internets, mind you, and there were no awesome indie record shops nearby, no music venues, no nothing. We didn’t have cable either, a fact that when I told an ex that I’d never seen an episode of MTV’s beloved “Remote Control,” he couldn’t believe it.
As a result of my somewhat stunted development and cultural retardation, I was pretty out of it when I finally got to civilization, aka college. But I distinctly remember this conversation among the oh-so-cool kids from “Chicago,” which really just meant they were from the suburbs of Chicago and shopped at Oak Park Mall, but they still thought they were The Shit. Anyway, this one too-cool-for-school kid, who wore Birkenstocks (don’t get me started on fucking Birkenstocks—that’s for another day) came cruising into class one day.
“Man, did you guys catch 10,000 Maniacs on ‘Letterman’ last night?” he said. “Whew, that Natalie Merchant, now she’s my idea of a woman.”
Now, even at that delicate day and age of my mental development, I figured a night hanging with Natalie Merchant would be about as fun as getting together to knit while we charted our ovulation and chanted. Yeah, that’s a party. I may have grown up on Butt Rock, but at least I knew how to have a good time. And even though I didn’t know jack-all about music, Natalie Merchant bothered me, deeply and immediately.
Then, through some twist of fate, I became a music critic. And, yeah, she still fucking irritates me. All that verbal wanking and singing about feelings. Yuck.
So, when I saw her comment in this magazine, I was enraged by her precious, poncy answer. Enraged.
“If I was deserted on an island, I would want to be with a poet, a philosopher and an astrophysicist.” Or some such bullshit. (If you can find this actual quote, I would really, really appreciate it. I can’t remember for the life of me where I read it.)
Lately, I’ve really been wanting to go around and punch people in the face. And Natalie Merchant is officially at the top of my list as of now. And now I’d like to teach Ms. Merchant a lesson.
Hey, Natalie, here’s the only three fucking people you need on a Desert Island, in no particular order of importance:
1. Sawyer from “Lost.”
2. A doctor (may or may not be Jack-like, doesn’t matter)
3. A chef to make tasty delicacies from all the shit you find on the island that no one knows how to cook. A big bonus if this chef looks like Sawyer from “Lost.”
Basically, Natalie Dear, you need someone to fuck you, fix you and feed you. And that, Desert Island, or no, is all you need in life. Period. Now, go away for infinity before I hunt you down and beat you to death with your own Birkenstocks.