Originally Published: Monday, September 5, 2005
Written by: Erik LaBranche
“Do you drink?” she asked expecting to get a casual yes like usual. “No, actually, I’m straightedge. I’m not sure if you know what that means, “ I responded anticipating one of the several typical responses, none of which I’m eager to deal with. I’m waiting to hear “Oh, isn’t that a gang or something,” or “No, I’ve never heard of it,” but mostly I get “Oh yea, that means your some kind of goody-goody, doesn’t it.” While this response gets tiresome quickly, I’d have to say that I prefer it compared to most other responses. The straightedge movement is largely a counter-culture movement. It’s a response to a hedonistic, self-destructive society…and for good reason. This makes it a healthier, more positive way of life, and in my opinion one of more sound sanity. However, as straightedge becomes more popular and more kids hear of it, the more threatened people outside of it feel by this lifestyle that points out that what they’re doing is harmful, wasteful, and irresponsible. Hence, many of these people retaliate saying things like “Oh, you’re just a goody-goody.”
Under different circumstances this could be a compliment, except for in these totally backward times, it is an insult to be called such a name. Granted the term is meant to sound derogatory; nevertheless, it strikes me as odd that it could be bad to live a healthy, moral life. More odd though, is that many straightedgers I know seem to take offense to this. Coming back with retorts like “I (or someone I know) have done things that are so bad you probably can’t even conceive of it.” There’s really no need to defend you’re bad-ass-ness. If you think about it, do you really want to win a person like that over? What do you really get out of it? Also, this isn’t really something to be bragging about in my opinion. It just seems sad and desperate. It is definitely true that many to most straightedge kids aren’t “goody-goodies.” We all have our faults. However, does this mean that it’s wrong to aspire to be a better person? Should I aspire to be real bad? Would that make me sic, bro?
I believe living a healthy moral life, or as they put it being a goody-goody, is a positive attribute. I try to make my life as healthy as possible because I respect myself and plan on living a long, full life. I also choose to live a moral life because I wish to make the world around me a more enjoyable place for others. I don’t find anything wrong or derogatory about this. I’m sorry that I don’t wish to try and drown my regrets and sorrows. I’m sorry that I don’t run from my fears and stresses. I’m sorry that I’m not inconsiderate of others. No, actually, I’m sorry for those that think they have to do all these things. Shouldn’t these be qualities that are insulting and offensive?
Another idea that goes along with the goody-goody imagery is that straightedgers don’t know how to have fun. This always leaves me feeling sad. I find it horribly depressing to think that the majority of college students, and many, many other Americans, think that having fun means going out and getting totally tanked on a Friday night. This is an incredibly despondent lifestyle, wasteful, and totally lacking creativity. You can always tell when someone had a “good” night when they have a story the next day of how they did something idiotic or embarrassing because they were drunk. If anything, being sober lets you explore more options of fun, not to mention leaves you with more cash to go do fun things. If you ask me, the situation seems to be quite reversed. If you’re some kid who gets drunk every weekend, it seems like you don’t know how to have fun, so you just turn to what everyone else is doing.
In summation, there are many straightedge kids who aren’t “goody-goodies;” however, there are many that would/have been called this. There is nothing wrong, derogatory, or embarrassing about this. It shouldn’t be insulting to be called such names. Often when someone refers to me as such I respond with something like “Thanks, I try,” because I’m proud of the positive life that I live. Also, the idea that these “goody-goodies” don’t know how to have fun is ludicrous. It is often just different, healthier, less destructive, more creative fun. It is true that there are people who spend most of their time taking life very seriously, and have trouble loosening up, but these people lie on both sides of the fence. I am straightedge. I would probably be considered a “goody-goody” by many people. Neither of these things are going to change soon. And I’m damn proud of both.
Mother, wife, small business owner.