Picture me in 1991: neon t-shirt, same color neon socks, shorts of a second neon color.
Clearly, I was in a position to be immediately wooed by Clarissa Darling of Clarissa Explains It All. The similarities were already there: history of boy BFFs, one younger brother and an affinity for headbands. All I needed was one look inside that bedroom (wow, that sounds creepy) and I was sold. I even dressed as Clarissa for Halloween . . . in 2010 (see photo above).
Because of Clarissa Darling, I:
1. Dress in Clashing Patterns and Colors
Clearly, I was already fully embracing the early ’90s color palette with my fashion. But Clarissa Darling really opened up a whole new world for me regarding patterns and accessories.
As a child, I had a lot of those early ’90s girl outfits where the top and the bottom are the same pattern or it’s a top with a pattern and then leggings with a coordinating pattern or color. (Anyone remember those?) Anyway, I LOVED them. I’d throw on one of those and some matching scrunch socks and I was good to go.
But then, Clarissa happened. She wore similar things but each piece would be a different, fun pattern! Or she’d throw a vest on top of it! How does one do that?! She made it look so simple and great! In a vain attempt to mimic this, I would take the top of one outfit and swap it with the bottoms of another and hope I was on my way to being awesome. I’d add my favorite fluorescent orange Keds, one dangly earring (a seahorse! – which I made myself) and one post earring and go on my merry way.
I’m not going to lie to you and pretend I didn’t get teased for this. But it didn’t matter to me. I knew I looked awesome and I knew Clarissa would agree.
Unfortunately, it’s not 1993 and I’m not 9 years old anymore. I’m 27 and I’m still dressing like Clarissa Darling.
2. Am Obsessed with TV
When I say I’m obsessed with TV, I don’t mean it in a casual, I’m-trying-to-be-hilarious way. I mean it in an all-encompassing, life-sucking way.
I spend most of the hours of my day either watching TV, working on making TV or just thinking about TV. I think that TV is the greatest medium of entertainment ever invented and no one can convince me otherwise. I‘ll watch any TV show you throw at me (at least once) and I always try to watch all of the series premieres (out of morbid curiosity more than anything else). I’m convinced my husband and I are the only people who watched the full run of many short-lived shows including The Class and, our favorite, Knights of Prosperity. (You should really check it out though; it’s entertaining and Sofia Vergara was on it).
But you know who was also obsessed with TV? Clarissa Darling. She loved TV so much she even did a school project where she watched TV for 24 hours straight. Sure, it made her go a little crazy, but that’s fine! It didn’t derail her from her aspirations to be a journalist and she still was completely bummed when her mom made the whole family give up TV for a little bit.
Look at how sad she is!
Clarissa GOT me. And it made it okay for me to love TV as much as she did.
3. Wanted To Have My Own Show
In fairness to my best friend, Clarissa Darling, this one might not be entirely her fault. But I still think she helped hone the desire.
At age 4, I would put up signs around my grandparents’ house announcing the performance for the evening. I’d host fashion shows with my friends and make anyone who was around film our plays in which I would (selflessly, of course) direct and star.
So when I saw how Clarissa would talk directly to the camera and hold everyone’s attention, I was jealous and I wanted in on that. My videos then turned into Erin Takes You On a Tour of The House or Erin Shows You What She and Her Brother Are Making Out Of Legos or, as my family would say, Erin Makes Us All Feel Sick By Spinning the Camera Around. Riveting stuff. It wasn’t enough for me to just dress like Clarissa, I wanted to have a show like she had and I wanted to sit in my room, stare into the mirror and discuss anything that came into my head.
(This also led to my fascination with, and intense practicing of, the speech pattern that Neve Campbell and Jennifer Love Hewitt share on Party of Five. But that’s another story…)
4. Thought My Younger Brother Was An Enemy Combatant
Clarissa had Ferguson and I had Tim. Is Tim a freckled redhead? No. Is Tim a Young Republican? No. But is Tim a younger brother that I could use to further pretend I was Clarissa Darling? Yes.
My brother is 5 years younger than I am, so sometimes he wasn’t old enough for my hilarious sibling pranks. (I once pretended I had amnesia and didn’t know who he was or who our parents were just because I was mad that he lightly pushed me – he was 4.) But I did learn from Clarissa that younger brothers are annoying and they mess with your stuff and above all else, they are out to get you.
So, in second grade, for Invent America (which we did through our school and was really fun), I invented the “Brother Stay Out” and I was very excited about it. It consisted of a pink feather boa with a bunch of crunchy plastic, felt and bells attached to it. The idea was I would put it outside my bedroom door and then Tim would be too distracted by this awesome toy to want to come bother me. (Maybe I was confused about the difference between little brothers and cats? Who knows.)
Well, it didn’t work (I guess Tim was smarter than a cat), but it did look awesome and ended up providing good decoration for my overly-decorated bedroom.
5. Decorate My Living Space Like a TGIFriday’s
Clarissa’s room was my dream place.
She had cool stuff covering almost every inch of the wall, there was a weird attic at the back of her room, she had a huge trunk at the foot of her bed and best of all, a ladder at her window for her BFF to climb up.
When I was 9, we moved and I got a room with pink paint on top, pink wallpaper with hearts on the bottom and a chair rail that ran through the center.
This was not my style, so I started putting things on the walls: glow-in-the-dark stars, posters, my button collection . . . anything, really. When I was in middle school, an entire corner of my room was dedicated to hundreds of photos I’d cut out of magazines. I also once tried to color in the wallpaper in one TINY section just like how Clarissa had painted over some of her wallpaper but that didn’t go over well with my parents.
The problem is, this isn’t something that has gone away. In college it was more of the same:
And even now, we joke that our apartment starts to look like a kitschy family-oriented restaurant when I get too ambitious with my wall décor.
Clarissa is in my head. And there’s no escaping it.
Na na na-na na….
(All photos of Clarissa Explains It All lovingly screengrabbed from my DVDs by me)