The boy your mother warned you about.

When I was younger, I realised that not everyone was going to like me. It was a moment straight out of Seinfeld, except I was Jerry’s mother and couldn’t believe that there were people who just, simply, wouldn’t like who I was. In attempts of combating this issue, my twelve-year-old brain decided that the best thing I could possibly do would be to give my peers reasons to scorn and talk about me behind my back. This meant that they weren’t making fun of me, just what I was pretending to be.

Somehow, I thought this would make a difference. It didn’t. But, with misplaced anger and a taste in music that was unlike anything my friends listened to, I soon became exactly what I was pretending to be. I discovered the work of Christopher Gutierrez long after I’d had this somewhat delusional epiphany, but it quickly gave me a reason to feel a little less alone despite no longer necessarily being the weird chick with a shitty haircut who read too many books about musicians addicted to heroin. I sat in lecture theatres and read about prostitutes smoking heroin (there was still a common theme to my literary habits, apparently) in Gutierrez’s bathroom, I sat at dinner with friends and recited the Snickers theory, and I carefully angled my books away from the people I sat next to on the commute back from uni. It was years since I’d sat in art class without an ounce of talent, subjecting my peers to the terrible speakers of my purple Samsung phone, trying to decide whether Sid Vicious looked better drawn in charcoal or oil paints, and should the scribbled Pretty Vacant lyrics in the background be done neatly, or should they be completely illegible in contrasting red markers? It didn’t matter that I was long past my phase of cutting my hair in a way that made me look like an honorary Ramone, but it was fact: Chris Gutierrez was a boy after my own heart. Seriously, though, who wouldn’t swoon after a boy who opened his book with, “The cum was still drying on my fingers as she put on her coat”?

Something that I enjoyed about his writing, and still continue to enjoy, is the emotional accessibility and insight shared throughout the pages. Despite coming from a very different background and having experienced extremely different situations in my life, I still felt as if I was able to relate to choices he, as a character and as a person, was making. This also allowed me to become more open-minded toward people who I wouldn’t necessarily consider as “decent” people in other situations. I found myself becoming more comfortable around the people who would usually make me want to cross the street if I came across them at night, or the people who’d cause my mother to grip my hand tighter when I was a child, and I think this was a really important lesson for me to learn.

I didn’t personally know the man behind the words, and I never will, but it was his words that taught me to get over the bullshit that was holding me back. I couldn’t just pre-emptively fight back on attacks that might not even be coming my way, and I had to find ways to actually stand up for myself and be “rebellious” because, let’s face it, sitting in the kitchen and eating cereal in my underwear at 3am (take that, mum) is hardly the definition of living life to the fullest.

It was the man who’s self-defined legacy is the misspelt name tattooed on his ass that gave me the self-confidence I’d stripped away from myself when I decided to idolise the people who shouldn’t be idolised. If he could eat a banana-flavoured pastry out of another grown man’s ass and have it broadcasted to the world, then surely I could write these words and ignore the overwhelming desire to backspace it all, and hide in my bath, humming along to a song that I definitely couldn’t relate to when I was fourteen, no matter how much teen angst I thought I had.

More information on Christopher Gutierrez and DeadxStop Publishing can be found here.

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