TRENTON, N.J. – Matt Kemper, 32, is rummaging through his belongings on a cold winter afternoon. The storage shed his father converted into a rumpus room for him and his friends in middle school still houses treasures from his childhood.
“It’s all meaningless now,” Kemper says, half-heartedly shooting his old Super Soaker until the stream runs out, never bothering to pump it back to full strength. “Garbage.”
Recently, Kemper, like many others, prepared for a binge of the anticipated Netflix show Fuller House, an update of the popular Full House sitcom that ended nearly 20 years ago. Kemper tidied up the old rumpus room, dusted off the color tube television, and invited some friends to join.
“I even ordered Dunkaroos from Amazon,” Kemper says, tossing his hands in the air. “Do you know how hard it is to find those?”
The evening quickly went awry of his expectations.
“Ten seconds in, most of the guests had left,” Kemper says. “Robbie swung my Skip-It at the TV, expecting it to break, but these old TVs are tough. I don’t know what the hell they’re made of. So he got frustrated and left. I stuck around as long as I could. But after about 30 seconds, I accepted the inevitable.”
“I guess…I guess the ’90s just weren’t that great,” Kemper says, head hung, sifting a Koosh ball in his fingers.
Kemper douses the pleather couch in gasoline first, eventually covering everything. He swings the door shut and awaits the trail of gas to seep out from underneath. He lights it and walks away. In the distance he ignores the crackle of Sega Genesis cartridges and the helpless cries of Tamagotchis; the malodorous stench of frying Gak fills the air.
He never once looks back.