I had—oh let's call it a sheltered childhood. Mine was a PBS-watching, classical music-listening family, which molded me into someone who can recognize Tchaikovsky and Masterpiece Theater at 30 paces, but made me incompetent as far as Pop Culture goes. I dimly remember someone named Madonna being pretty popular in middle school, but I couldn't have told you much about her.
In my first few days of freshman year of high school, I was confronted with the magnitude of my cluelessness. I was sitting on the bus (already a black mark against me), when a boy who already oozed the confidence of one of the Popular plopped down next to me. "So," he ventured conversationally, "what do you think of R.E.M.?"
Before I could filter it, I answered "Like, rapid eye movement? It's ok, I guess."
The ostracism was swift and permanent. It was senior year before I redeemed myself by falling in love with Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Talking Heads, Lou Reed, and yes, R.E.M.— all the bands that the serious music lovers in high school dug. By college, I had access to cable, and made up for lost time thanks to Nick at Night.
I won't win any prizes at 80's Trivia Night, but I can hold my own in conversation now without coming across as a colossal idiot. I take a perverse pride now in talking about my happy little under-a-rock childhood. And the best part is being adult enough now to sympathize with those others who crawled out from under their rocks like me, blinking in the harsh light of Pop Culture.
So your challenge is this: tell me your crawling-out-from-under-the-rock story. The one that makes my tender geek heart bleed the most will win a mental_floss t-shirt.
Terri Dann is an absolutely indispensable mental_floss designer. She's responsible for the artwork on many of the t-shirts you're hoping to win.