Tales from MVT: “In Too Deep” by Sum 41
Tales from MVT is a regularly-occurring series of blog posts where I choose one of the videos from our Music Video Theatre sessions and write about it. Music Video Theatre has become one of the most fun and enriching experiences of my current life, and for a multitude of reasons, has sparked abundant creativity. It serves as the inspiration for this series of silly little blog posts.
Song: “In Too Deep”
Artist: Sum 41
Director: Marc Klasfeld
Appeared in: MVT Vol. 1
Chosen by: Me
Seann William Scott, best known as Stifler from the American Pie movies, hosted Saturday Night Live on October 6, 2001. It’s possible I watched it that night, but I don’t remember. That would have been too early to have the conversation I had with my mom. And the thing is, I don’t remember when exactly I had that conversation, but I know that conversation, had during the Seann William Scott episode of Saturday Night Live, put me at ease in a way that I hadn’t felt in weeks. A load was lifted. A burden erased. Tension relieved. I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back up…
The Fall of 2001 and the Spring of 2002 comprised my sophomore year of college. I lived with my best pal Jamie in a two-bedroom apartment, and just down the road in the dorms was my high school girlfriend, who, by the time she arrived at CSU, had been with me for close to a year and a half. We survived the dreaded long-distance relationship while she finished high school and were enjoying our newfound proximity to the fullest.
One lazy evening we were laying on her bed in her dorm room when she casually broached the idea of moving in together. I immediately panicked. I told her to hold on while I went to the bathroom and tried to think of any excuse not to that I thought she’d buy. My head was swirling and none came.
It wasn’t that I didn’t love her. I did. But some combination of paranoia about what that would signal about my intentions, the knowledge that her parents were married by the time they were 18, the fact that I overheard her say verbatim in her sleep, “But I don’t think he wants to buy me a promise ring, Mom,” and the fact that I still had a lot of youthful, immature jackass energy to expel made this prospect pure nightmare fuel. I wasn’t ready to play house, and despite her protests to the contrary, I knew she was.
I know this because when I’d go to her house the following year, we’d spend most evenings watching Dharma & Greg re-runs in syndication, study for a bit, and then quietly go to bed. That’s more or less how I spend most evenings now, but I’m 41 years old. I wanted much different things at 21.
Anyway, the conversation ended however it ended – I honestly can’t remember, but I can still feel the remnant awkwardness of it that lingered for weeks afterward in my bones two decades later – and we mostly didn’t talk about it. It dominated my thoughts, though.
So I’m back at my parents’ house one weekend sometime after, and the Seann William Scott episode of SNL is replaying instead of a new one. I’m barely paying attention as he introduces Sum 41 to play for the second time. They’ve already done “Fat Lip,” so their second single “In Too Deep” is up. My mom sits down with me and asks me what’s on my mind.
I tell her my girlfriend wants to move in with me, but I don’t. And I don’t want to hurt her feelings, but I’m not ready and uncomfortable and anxious, and blah blah blah…
My mom, who’s positively elated by this news, and doing a poor but noble job of masking that elation, says, “Oh! Well, then just blame it on us!”
“Yeah. Just tell her that living with your girlfriend while you’re still in college is against our beliefs and we won’t pay for it anymore.”
“Well yes, that is actually what we believe because we don’t think living with your girlfriend is a good idea at your age and in school for a number of reasons, but now you don’t have to be the bad guy. We’ll be the bad guy!”
“Wow! Thanks! That’s fantastic!”
“Yeah… a lot better. I’m gonna live with my friends!”
My mom and I both idly watch the TV for a minute or so when I finally say, “By the way, this is Sum 41. You and your principal asked one of your students what they were listening to one day, and you mistakenly thought they said Psalm 41.”
“Ha! I remember that. [a pause] Would you say you were (and I swear if she could have taken off sunglasses and looked directly into camera when she said this, she would have) in too deep with your girlfriend there?”
That is so hokey, so cornball, so cheesetastic, and so perfectly right down Main Street, I couldn’t help but love it. I still love it! I laughed because I was in such a state of relief that it felt good to release that pent up tension. I laughed because my mom came to my rescue. And I laughed because that shit’s funny, dude. Just a mom whippin’ a mom joke right into my breadbasket.
I love the “In Too Deep” video because it makes me think of this story, sure. I also love it because it’s a direct tribute to the diving competition climax of the Rodney Dangerfield classic Back to School complete with armpit farts and a Triple Lindy. But I love it finally because the diving complex looks just like where we had swim practice that year I lived in Texas. My friend Stephen was at MVT Vol. 1, and he’s still my absolute favorite thing about that year in Texas. We had great times together, and it’s amazing I still count him as one of the best friends of my entire life when we spent only 12 months living in the same city.
I think I’ve fallen in love with music videos because they’re not only self-contained universes that open themselves to you in a matter of (usually) less than 5 minutes, they can conjure three distinct happy feelings and memories and none of them are in conflict with one another. That’s fucking magical.
Would you say you were in too deep with your girlfriend there?
Goddammit, Mom. Good one.