I want to be 1990s Conan O’Brien because late-night talk shows record in the afternoon and I like to sleep in. I want to be 1990s Conan O’Brien because he hosted Late Night then. The later time slot made him the cool kid who sits in the back of the class. Shades on. Arms crossed. Legs propped up on the desk in front of him. We all know what happened when Leno retired. I want to be 1990s Conan O’Brien because he asks the questions. No: “Why’d you miss deadline, Greg? Can you work this weekend, Greg?” I want to be 1990s Conan O’Brien because interesting people liked to talk to him. No one interesting talks to me. All anyone wants to talk about is the weather. Will it rain? Will it snow? I don’t know. Look out the damn window. I want to be 1990s Conan O’Brien because he could make me laugh with just a dance. Popping his hips. Cutting invisible strings. His lanky legs jumping like a cat. I used to think I was funny. Then no one laughed at my Jack Nicholson impression at last week’s budget meeting. I want to be 1990s Conan O’Brien because he forever lives in the ‘90s. I’d watch him in my ‘90s bedroom full of ‘90s stuff: a Nintendo 64, Tamagotchis, VHS tapes, Nirvana and Pearl Jam posters, Beanie Babies, stacks of CDs, a Koosh ball, JNCO jeans, etcetera. In the 1990s, I grew up. Now, I’m 39. In the 1990s, I could be anyone. Now, I work at a marketing company. In the 1990s, extreme ruled, and I wore No Fear t-shirts. Now, I wear suffocating button-downs, and everything’s scary. Everything’s so scary. I want to be 1990s Conan O’Brien because—look, maybe the ‘90s weren’t that great. Maybe the ‘90s sucked as much as now. It’s possible. But the comfort the lie brings makes the reverie worth basking in, makes the nostalgia worth gripping on to, right? I’m asking. One stipulation: Only ‘90s kids are allowed to answer.
Will Musgrove is a writer and journalist from Northwest Iowa. He received an MFA from Minnesota State University, Mankato. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in TIMBER, The McNeese Review, Oyez Review, Tampa Review, Vestal Review, and elsewhere. Connect on Twitter at @Will_Musgrove or williammusgrove.com.
- On Wednesday I Get Ashes at the Drive-Thru
Katelyn Botsford Tucker
- How To Lie On Your Back Underwater And Not Drown Your Fool Self
- The Day Ends. The Day Ends. The Day Ends.
- And if this is where you live, welcome home
- After Saying John Ashbery’s Poetry Is Like Getting Out of a Bath When It’s Still Warm, And My Workshop Instructor Laughs and Tells Us He’s Going to Tell His Friend I Said That, Repeating What I Said in a Lower Voice, Not Like “John Ashbery’s Poetry Is Like Getting Out of a Bath When It’s Still Warm” but More Like “John Ashbery’s poetry is like getting out of a bath when it’s still warm” Because People Don’t Normally Talk in Capitals, and Did Y’all Know I Visited the Capitol in Fifth Grade on a School Field Trip as a “Safety Patrol,” Back When I Didn’t Know the Responsibilities Behind Patrolling a School, Before An Intoxicated Man Intruded My High School Last Year and the School Cop, on Their First Day, Didn’t Know What to Do, so the Local Cops Shot the Intruder in the Same Building I Was in