The year was 1997. I was one of the first kids to go to Cavazos Junior High. The building is strange, with so few interior windows and so much reflective white tile that it felt like an insane asylum or a prison. If the lights went out, it was pitch black, and every student would begin howling like werewolves and ghosts because no one could possibly assign any blame. The echos seemed to come from everywhere at once.

"So, you're going to Marilyn Manson, huh?"

"Um...yes? Do I know you?"

An entire day of everyone knowing that the sad, lonely and only goth girl was going to Marilyn Manson. The news of his upcoming show wasn't new, so I was highly confused as to why everyone seemed to be talking to me about it on this one particular day.

Turns out my dad, a local rock DJ (Wes Nessman. You may have heard of him) had been on the news the night before without telling me.

In 1997, you couldn't get on the internet without it costing you by the minute and the boot-up screaming at you like the mechanical damned in hell. So 12 to 15-year-old kids actually watched local television. My dad had been interviewed about the "controversy" of this "satanic" musical act coming to our CHRISTIAN town and what-he-thought-about-that!

"I'm taking my daughter."

Well, that was answer enough to stir the proverbial pot. Later that year, a substitute math teacher would devote 30 minutes to preaching to me about my Marilyn Manson t-shirt (it literally just said "Marilyn Manson" and had nothing else on it), and how wearing it would certainly send me, Renee the 13-year-old, directly to hell. Because God has such an astute and demanding fashion sense. It was so tedious that another kid said "Can we just learn some math now?" We all roared laughing.

Whatever -- I was used to being picked on, primarily by grown-ass adults. Adults were and pretty much continue to be absolute garbage, and no one should ever pay attention to them anyways.

We went to the show. It was fun. Marilyn Manson ripped pages from a bible (so spicy!), but ended the show at 10:30 p.m. (not spicy at all).

I'll never forget the protesters with their signs, who bought tickets with their american-ass money, and yelled at everyone. They were in general what I call party foulers.

Their presence became part of the spectacle and part of the fun. Someone threw a live mouse at them. They scattered. That was, and remains, comedy gold.

So to you, Marilyn Manson, if for some insane reason you ever read this: Thank you so much. From the bottom of my heart.

You taught me life's most valuable lesson. Be brave, be bold, and, above all else, be yourself. Live without fear of the judgement of others, live without fear of their version of a petty god and a petty hell. Through darkness, the brightest light shines through.

Thank you.

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