I love to make bad decisions. They come to me so easily, and at the heart of every one is the same fundamental thesis: that more is always better. There is this thing in me, this thing that means that one of anything will never be enough, that once I’ve started it will be impossible to stop, that deciding something is not a good idea and doing it anyway is infinitely more satisfying than anything else in the world. The moment of letting go, when you stop fighting your impulses and plow ahead with another big fucking mistake, is what is at the heart of so much in my life, from the music I love to the book I just finished writing to the friends that I’ve chosen, to the point that I am often perplexed by people who are afraid to get hurt or make mistakes, things I consider to be pretty much the price of admission for this, the human experience. I’ve gotten pretty good at recognizing other people who regularly seek out the magical catharsis that can only be brought on by one’s own stupidity, and I can assure you that Rayanne Graff has got it bad.
What makes me fucking nuts now when I watch MSCL is the extent to which the show paints her drinking as the source of her problems. Sometimes, to aid in the poor-choice-making process, drugs and alcohol get thrown into the mix, but there is a difference between doing something because you’re under the influence and deliberately putting yourself there so you’ll misbehave. Does Rayanne fuck Jordan because she’s drunk, or does she get drunk because she wants to do something awful and self-destructive and Jordan is conveniently present? People fucking love to worry about other people, and when Patty and Angela worry about Rayanne, their concern is almost always focused on her drinking.Rayanne’s personality—volatile, impulsive, charismatic—is what makes her so appealing to Angela, and so frightening to Patty, and Rayanne won’t become a different person even if she never drinks again. When I watch MSCL, it almost creeps me out to see the way everyone’s anxiety about Rayanne is so fetishized, especially Angela, whose need to live vicariously through Rayanne eclipses any desire to protect or understand her. That is until, of course, Rayanne gets it on with Jordan, something Angela couldn’t actually bring herself to do, despite the endless hours of ruminating on the subject. But Rayanne getting her stomach pumped and Rayanne fucking her best friend’s crush are both the result of the exact same aspect of her character, even if people respond to one with fear and compassion and the other with disgust. If moderation is not your thing, your relationship with everything in your life—sex, money, food, whatever—can end up being extraordinarily complicated, but prepare yourself to have the emotional support of your loved ones extended and withdrawn depending on how they feel your morals are holding up under the circumstances.
Sometimes shit does, in fact, get fucked up. By the time I was twenty-three I had run my life into the ground with such thoroughness and efficiency I had to move to Idaho for a year and a half and reboot the whole operation. And yet here I am, seven years later, and though I refer to that era as The Dark Time, somehow I am not a cautionary tale. Amazingly, it turns out that in every person’s life, there is a stupendous amount of room for fucking up. I burned my house down, sure, but then I built a better one. I so often remind myself how lucky I am to have skated through so many situations that were beyond sketchy and sordid and dangerous without incurring grievous bodily harm or permanent psychological damage, and to have miraculously turned out, more or less, no worse for the wear. And yet, if I could go back and tell my younger self to do anything differently, it would still be to do more of everything—more shows, more sex, more massive nights that lasted until dawn. Not that there isn’t still plenty of that ahead of me—Jesus Christ, I’m only thirty after all—but it would have been excellent if someone had told me that my enormous appetite for everything was not a moral failing, or rooted in a lack of virtue and values. (Oh Catholicism, you so did not help.) What I needed was to figure out a better way to be the person that I am. When Angela becomes hysterical over her zit and the mother-daughter fashion show and her own perceived ugliness, Patty comforts her by saying that all she wants is for Angela to “enjoy what you are.” Unfortunately, Rayanne seems to be getting the opposite message. Still, in the final episode when Angela is pawing at Jordan in the hallways but still giving Rayanne the cold shoulder, it’s actually Angela that I feel sorry for. That girl is totally betting on the wrong horse.