On Tuesday, I went to a distressing and wonderful event: my niece's grade-eight graduation. It was distressing because just a few years ago I saw her being born and now SHE'S GOING TO HIGH SCHOOL, and it was wonderful because she's turned out not half bad.

After she had WON A PRIZE for officially being not half bad and received her diploma, she was poised to go a graduation dance, and so my sister and I reminisced about how awkward and traumatizing it had been to dance to Stairway to Heaven when we were in school (because of the song's ridiculous length and that upbeat, bouncy bit in the middle when you usually stayed with your arms around each other but bobbed about more vigorously). That got me thinking about the Songs of My Youth, and the songs of my grade-eight graduation dance in particular.

My dance took place in the year...I'm pretty sure it was 1990. And that still doesn't seem all that long ago, but Buzzfeed recently had a list called something like "45 Things That Are Crazily and Unbelievably Long Ago About 1999"  (a year which, as you'll note, occurred almost a decade after the year I'm talking about) and also, my niece is GOING TO HIGH SCHOOL, so I realize that it was a long time ago and that I have a great deal to share with the younger generation.

I will not, obviously, be able to remember all the songs played by Clarence the DJ at Glenview Senior Public School—I have also managed to forget (1) the names of the boys kicked out of the dance for getting drunk off of some malign mixture of spirits from their parents' liquor cabinets, and (2) the last name of the boy who, at my graduation, told me I looked like a prostitute (I really, really didn't—but he was kind of a dick).

So here they are:

Fast Songs
You Shook Me All Night Long — ACDC
Sweet Child 'O Mine — Guns N' Roses
Mony Mony — Billy Idol
U Can't Touch This — MC Hammer
Bust A Move — Young MC
It Takes Two — Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock
Joy and Pain —Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock
Bizarre Love Triangle — New Order
Rock and Roll — Led Zeppelin
Sweet Soul Sister —The Cult
Beds Are Burning — Midnight Oil
Funky Cold Medina — Tone Loc

Red Red Wine — UB40
Faith — George Michael
Mary, Mary — Run–D.M.C.

Slow Songs
Patience — Guns N' Roses
Somebody — Depeche Mode
A Groovy Kind of Love — Phil Collins

Every Rose Has Its Thorn — Poison
Right Here Waiting — Richard Marx
Heaven — Warrant
Heaven — Bryan Adams
Without You — Motley Crue
What It Takes — Aerosmith

Never Tear Us Apart —INXS
I'll Be There For You — Bon Jovi
When I See You Smile — Bad English

Nothing Compares 2U — Sinead O'Connor
Stairway to Heaven — Led Zeppelin

The last song played (I vividly remember  thinking, "This is the LAST SONG of my junior-high-school life") was Alphaville's Forever Young, and I also vividly remember thinking, "This song is hilariously inappropriate, because I don't care how old I get as long as aging means I get to leave junior high school." Also, we all thought that song was based on some story about some Swedish teenagers who committed suicide en masse after their prom, so it was a bit depressing. That story appears to be apocryphal, though, which I why I can now be so flippant about it.

After a few weeks of ill health followed by one day of absolutely perfect health that inspired me to say something sensible and prophetic like "She's 100% better! SHE WILL NEVER DIE!" my guinea pig died.

After a life spent wanting hay, eating hay, wanting more hay while still eating that other hay, and hating all things that were not hay, she died in the most peaceful and painless way imaginable.

I had a dream the other night which I will now mention—NOT because I think dreams are interesting as long as they're mine and not some other stupid person's, but because this dream reveals how straightforward and embarrassingly unsubtle my dream life is. I was at a movie theatre. Obviously, I had brought (the still-living) Stabler to the movie theatre with me. Just as obviously, I had not brought a carrier or basket or pair of hay manacles with me, and she immediately escaped. I then ran through the theatre trying to convince strangers to care about and look for a grown woman's escaped guinea pig, and was unsuccessful. Then a man in the front row, clutching a pale, sickly girl, cried, " care for this PIG? You search for this PIG while I stand here clutching my ailing six-year-old [Stabler was, of course, six] daughter?" And the crowd turned on me and then I woke up.

She was a tiny, short-lived mammal, and she was a nasty, no-good, ungrateful piece of work. As my friend Colleen said, she was "fierce, with no fucks to give." As many people have noted, if she had been a person, she would have totally intolerable, and I would not have been willing to keep her in a large cage in my living room. But an asshole who is small and furry and occasionally squeaks is a pretty cute asshole, and I miss her like crazy.

I am once again comically unfocused to the point of half-wittedness. See if you can identify the subjects of the different near-simultaneous trains of thought in the inner monologue I've recreated below.

I feel I am close to really understanding modal auxiliaries. They are actually quite manageable. I wish Weiner hadn't gone with those teenage-Don-Draper-in-a-whorehouse flashbacks—I didn't need a Law and Order: SVU explanation for his sexual issues. [Stabler has eaten two pieces of lettuce, but not touched one single pellet. If she weren't furry, I think she would look peaked.] "Do," "must," and "ought" are modal auxiliaries. That makes sense to me. Is every episode now going to feature Don Draper on some kind of drug/suffering from some kind of illness and then hallucinating? [Stabler's urine is a strange colour now. I must look up photos of guinea pig urine on the internet. She has not yet eaten ONE SINGLE PELLET.] I can no longer remember a single modal auxiliary. I do not know what a modal auxiliary is. I suspect that soon the show will feature nothing but Don with a head cold talking to wise dead infantrymen and Wild West–style prostitutes. [The vet told me orange urine could be caused by stress, which makes sense, because she has been fighting off infection—and being so disapproving and defiant and mean-spirited probably takes a toll, too. Pellets all still accounted for.]

"Being so disapproving and defiant and mean-spirited probably takes a toll." This photo was (I'm pretty sure) taken by Jonathan Goldsbie and is perfect.