“I Think About This a Lot” is a series dedicated to private memes: images, videos, and other random trivia we are doomed to play forever on loop in our minds.
I have a tendency to ruminate on things. Like the awkward wink I gave a cashier in line two weeks ago. These are the things I lie awake in bed at night thinking about: Not just how to stop the harassment of essential workers, but also my problematic volume of tote bags, or the earthquake kit I still haven’t bought, or about how my dog could suffocate in his sleep. I put my fingers to his nose to make sure he’s still breathing. He wriggles away and I lie there for a second. Always I turn on my side and tune into a tried-and-true way of self-soothing my lingering anxiety. So when I was recently laid off from my job of four years due to “some simple restructuring,” I knew what to do: I mouthed the lyrics to “Another Dumb Blonde,” by Hoku, the most carefree song I have ever heard.
The pop anthem, about ending a relationship with a boyfriend caught cheating, briefly made Hoku a chart-topping star. It was featured on the soundtrack for the 2000 Nickelodeon original film Snow Day, about a boy obsessed with the most popular girl in high school despite the real love of his best friend who’s actually aware of his existence.
But it’s the music video that I found so awe-inspiring. Hoku’s brilliant blonde mane flitted across the screen of our television as she danced in the snow and sang to the guy she was dumping. The video begins when Hoku’s beau sits down at his tangerine Macintosh G3 and sees he has a video message from her. But he’s immediately distracted by the television across the room, on which scenes from Snow Day starring Emmanuelle Chriqui (not even blonde!) appear. My stomach would turn whenever I watched this. Despite Hoku’s clear magnetism, she’s just not enough: Her man has a wandering eye. The rest of the video follows Hoku as she croons her breakup anthem from a party on the beach, having the time of her life. “Lately, I’ve come to find / That you’re not really interested in my heart or mind,” she sings with a smile. “And I think it’s time for you to find another dumb blonde.” We should all be so clever and confident!
Have you ever witnessed such a happy breakup? “Last night I went to a party hopin’ I’d see you there,” Hoku sings. “And sure enough, you were hanging on some other girl, playin’ with her hair.” She follows this up with “that’s all right, that’s okay,” and you really believe her. Where others might see a heartbreaking betrayal, Hoku sees an immature mistake that has nothing to do with her. She doesn’t care about this guy not loving her. She’s having an amazing time going through what are typically the heavy motions of a breakup in style, and at a party, no less. While many of us reach for wine and a blanket amid rejection and heartache, Hoku corrals her friends for a midnight bonfire. One can only imagine the kind of soirée she manages to pull together after an abnormal pap smear or when she’s under audit by the IRS.
The first time I saw the music video, in the second grade, I was transfixed. For a year I worked to become a master of Hoku’s choreography. The music video is full of Hoku’s subtle finger points at the camera and her playfully shaking her bangs when she tells her boyfriend to move onto the next blonde in his queue. At the very end, when her soon-to-be-ex cartoonishly smacks his head after realizing what he’s lost, Hoku laughs and gives an untroubled shake of her head as she waves good-bye.
“You look a little crazy,” my sister told me once after I attempted a Hoku-style smile and good-bye wave. “Good,” the wisdom of my years has allowed me to realize I should have replied. After all, to be slightly close to craziness is to be next to Hokuness.
There has always been something about this Hokuness, this carefree unbotheredness that has fascinated me all of these years later. It mirrors the mind-set which is so often pounded into our skulls growing up: Hokuness means not letting emotions overwhelm logic. But for me, something about the wires that connect my head and heart makes it impossible not to feel the flutter and beat of every fear and concern in my head.
In my mid-20s I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder that largely revolves around fear of abandonment and rejection. At the time, I had zero Hokuness. I couldn’t stand in the face of rejection and make a fun music video. I had no concrete answers to my worries, but I would over-examine how a friend might feel whenever my anxiety would force me to cancel our scheduled plans. I’d ruminate on why my mom had missed one of my calls, and fret over what my new boyfriend actually meant when he texted “I love u” with no period instead of “I love you” spelled out and with a period.
“I want you to select a few words of empowerment for when you feel like this,” my therapist instructed. “Think of the times when you feel the most secure.” It hit me: It’s when I’m singing “Another Dumb Blonde” and watching a young woman experience my worst fear. She knows love has abandoned her. But she doesn’t wallow. She chooses herself. She chooses carefree self-love. And a beach party that looks like an American Eagle ad.
Of course, while this song has become my guiding light, it alone hasn’t helped my anxiety attacks or heart palpitations. A low dose of Lexapro and weekly psychiatry sessions keep my state of mind relatively steady and on track. Still, sometimes, the anxiety creeps in. It’s in these times that I strive for Hokuness. I imagine myself pom-pom-punching before a backdrop of a snowy mountain, and I think, “That’s all right, that’s okay.” I hand-pistol-point to myself in the mirror and say, “You’ve got this.”