I've had it happen. A lovely person tries to say something nice, giving me "the compliment that wasn't." Don't be that person. Here's a quick primer on what's cool and what's really really not.
Whatever gets us from A to B, right?
That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?
Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.
My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?
Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.
Here are 22 responses with the most horsepower:
"1985 champagne Ford Taurus. Front and back license plates said 'Bernie'. Everyone who rode signed the roof lining. Brittany Spears sticker on the hood. Orange scuff marks lining the side from taking out rows of plastic construction barrels, on purpose." – @StaufferJacob85
Not sure I see the problem here. Clearly that car was work of art.
"My car in high school had a hole in the gas tank, but it was near the top, so you only had to worry about it if you put in more than $7 worth of gas." – @jimmyfallon
"Our son’s first car has electric doors. They often malfunction and open / close at random when he’s parked. He has to time it just right as he dives in and out or he gets stuck!" – @Sohnzie
"The sunroof blew off of #myworstcar the first time I drove it on the highway. I duct taped a piece of plexiglass over the hole & that was the roof for the next 2 years. The electrical system shorted out from water getting in and the alarm would go off randomly and the radio froze." – @hopesstillmedia
"2 months after my Uncle 'got it checked by a mechanic,' the transmission went out. Over the years, the alternator broke down twice, the air conditioner, the serpentine belt, the brakes... I could go on. I think I should get a refund for the $1 gave my uncle." – @rednicknack
"The 1st car I drove in the 80s was a Chevy Chevette in high school. It didn’t have 2nd gear so you had to go from 1st to 3rd. The driver’s seat was broken so we had a short 2x4 wedged between the back of the seat and the floor in the back." – @englishteacher8
"I drove a 98 ford ranger in high school that could only go 45 mph before it started back firing. When you got up to 46, people thought you were performing a drive by shooting. Got stopped by the cops a few times for it." – @amylynnfish
"My mom owned a 1992 Chrysler LeBaron, and its car radio all of a sudden stopped working. So whenever my mom wanted to listen to the 'radio', I had to do all the radio sound effects and static noise, sing random songs and commercial jingles, and recite ad voiceovers." – @DulceFloCruz99
"2004 Honda Civic Coup. where to begin? the muffler that would fall off every couple miles, the ac that never worked, break pad that fell into my hand or the fact only one of the vehicle's TWO doors would open?!" – @moshimotions
"I learned to drive a stick car in '86 on a '76 VW Rabbit. There was a hole in the floor near the shift. I always felt like Fred Flintstone and if I had a problem I could just use my feet!" – @AnnMcD87
Yabba Dabba driveGiphy
"I had a 91 Acura and it had some alternator problem where it would not start if it was hot (I lived in Pasadena at the time) so it was hot a lot. In my 21 year old mind, I decided to not fix the problem, just park the car on a slope wherever I went so I could start it." – @astovesand
"My first car, a maroon Mitsubishi Colt Vista, had a nest of bees living in both the driver and passenger side doors." – @BrnSkr
"My car in college always overheated and broke down in the same place going up a mountain. I often had to drive in front of a sign that said 'Kentucky prison ahead, please do not pick up hitchhikers.'” – @HancockTraci
"My first car when I was 17 had a hole in the pipe that takes the petrol to the tank, I’d put 30 in but average around 15 that made it to the tank if I was lucky. When I drop into the forecourt I would get the “get the f#c@n sand bucket ready” eye roll of the cashier." – @asalllas
"My first car was a 1981 gold Honda civic station wagon called the Jesus-mobile because it had one of those fish stickers on the back and would leak water and make a whine noise." – @KyleKerouac
Need they say more?
"My first car was a Corvair. It had many issues, but the worst was when the motor mounts broke without warning and the engine literally fell out into the street while I was driving." – @styllpoint
"I stapled a tie die tapestry to the roof of the interior and it fell down while my mom was backing out of the driveway and she hit the mailbox." – @JDylanNYC
"I had a Toyota that was 4 different colors. Had replacement parts on it but couldn't afford to get it painted. It had a cracked distributor cap so every time it rained, I had to take it apart to dry it out so the car would start." – @kmacassar
"#Myworstcar was an Acura that my dad bought at the police auction. He made me deep clean it and something suspiciously blood-colored came up from the back carpet." – @KatieKlauss
"In HS I had a 1970 Ford Maverick. Every time I turned left in the summertime, the AC drain drained into the passenger floorboard. Well-placed coffee cans caught most of the water." – @saxmelody
"My Brother and I had to get out and walk to the top of steep hills on family trips because our car was so underpowered." – @Sohnzie
Katie Norregaard has found her calling—teaching big lessons in little songs.
On her TikTok profile, Katie Norregaard (aka Miss Katie) describes her brand as “if Mr. Rogers and AOC had a kid.” And it’s 100% accurate. The teaching artist has been going viral lately for her kid-friendly tunes that encourage kids to learn about other cultures, speak up for their values and be the best humans they can be.
@misskatiesings Reply to @typebteacher the internet gave me this brand one year ago and I haven’t looked back 🎶 ❤️ #fyp #misterrogers #preschool #aoc #teachertok ♬ She Share Story (for Vlog) - 山口夕依
Let’s face it, some kid’s songs are a tad abrasive with their cutesiness, to put it politely. A certain ditty about a shark pup comes to mind. Norregaard manages to bypass any empty saccharine-ness while still remaining incredibly sweet. The effortless warmth of her voice certainly helps with that. Again, she’s got that Mister Rogers vibe down to a tee.“Miss Katie” has a treasure trove full of fun creations, such as her jazz version of “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” but it’s her “Chinese Dumpling Song" that’s completely taking over the internet.
The “Chinese Dumpling Song” is all about how to—you guessed it—make a dumpling, which Miss Katie sings with her students in Mandarin. As you can see in the video, the kids absolutely love singing it.
@misskatiesings #answer to @spidermark790 love that students get excited about this song from my childhood! 🥟 #fyp #wholesome #aapi #preschool #kindergarten #teachertok #kidsmusic #momsoftiktok #parentsoftiktok #aapiheritagemonth ♬ original sound - Miss Katie Sings | kids music
Norregaard told TODAY that the song is normally accompanied by a little toy dumpling to visually explain what would go inside, depending on the culture. Her aim is to instill the importance of appreciating diversity through the two languages we can all understand: music and food.
The song has racked up nearly 90,000 views and an outpouring of well-deserved internet love.
Below is a video of Norregaard singing the song along with her mother, who makes all the gestures in her hand … just like when Norregaard was a child learning the song for the first time.
@misskatiesings Chinese dumping song with my mom! 🥟 #aapi #songsforkids #preschool #wholesome #fyp #dumplings #multilingual #kindergarten #teachertok ♬ original sound - Miss Katie Sings | kids music
The overwhelmingly positive response to the “Chinese Dumpling Song" (both from kids and adults alike) was a huge surprise to Norregaard.
She told TODAY, “I didn’t expect that first off that all the students in my class would enjoy it already. But that then it would find a place publicly in the world where so many people were connecting with it." She added that it instilled “even more confidence and appreciation” within herself for her heritage.
In her quest to “pursue music and mindful kids’ content full-time,” Norregaard has songs about more than just food, although there are a lot of those. Every topic can become a tune—from history, to wellness, to politics.
For example, in the video below, Norregaard teaches kids about protesting. Or as she puts it, “when a group of people come together to say ‘there’s a big problem and something needs to change.’”
@misskatiesings Activism for kids 🖤 🎶 #fyp #foryou #preschool #kindergarten #socialjustice #consciousparenting #activism #teachertok #blm #edutainment #elementary ♬ original sound - Miss Katie Sings | kids music
In the following video, she breaks down the history of Indigenous People’s Day.
@misskatiesings A brief start! // #indigenousday #indigenouspeoplesday #fyp #preschool #kindergarten #teachertok #consciousparenting #foryou #teachersoftiktok ♬ original sound - Miss Katie Sings | kids music
Seriously, where was this when I was in school?
Her videos are often very interactive with student-led activities, like this breathing exercise:
@misskatiesings After some running around, a student helped us all calm down ✨ //#preschool #teachertok #wholesome #fyp #mindfulkids #gentleparenting #kindergarten #musicforkids ♬ original sound - Miss Katie Sings | kids music
She even has videos for parents, helping them to shape more open, productive conversations with their kiddos. In this one, she discusses the importance of telling children the mistakes of grown-ups so that they can “reimagine a better world.”
@misskatiesings Reply to @skata66 Kids can help us reimagine a better way. ✨ #fyp #preschool #kindergarten #foryou #teachertok #consciousparenting #teachersoftiktok ♬ original sound - Miss Katie Sings | kids music
On her website, Norregaard writes, “I view making music for children to be truly radical, beautiful work.” That sentiment is evident; the amount of love she puts into what she does is truly remarkable. Her sense of purpose is what makes “Miss Katie Sings” so special. Norregaard is providing kids with vital tools to build connections, manage their feelings and better understand the world … making it a better place in the process.
As a Gen X parent, it's weird to try to describe my childhood to my kids. We're the generation that didn't grow up with the internet or cell phones, yet are raising kids who have never known a world without them. That difference alone is enough to make our 1980s childhoods feel like a completely different planet, but there are other differences too that often get overlooked.
How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.
One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.
And '80s hair? With the feathered bangs and the terrible perms and the crunchy hair spray? What, why and how?
In some ways, that era was simpler. We weren't bombarded with information and opinions about every issue in the world 24/7 and had the freedom to just be kids. At the same time, I personally have no desire to go back. (My straight, fine hair was not made for the '80s.)
However, one dad is bringing full-on nostalgia to millions of Gen Xers with a viral TikTok he made about sharing his '80s childhood with his 8-year-old son. Justin H (who goes by @shadyraro on TikTok) included photos and descriptions of things all '80s kids will recognize and it's like hopping into a time machine.
Like, the unwound cassette tape struggle was genuinely real. Grab a pencil, start winding and pray. "The A-Team"? Totally. Streetlight curfew? Yep.
The 80’s was the best decade #80s #80skid #oldschool #genx #parents #funny #family #foryou #fyp
The video has been viewed more than 10 million times this week, with commenters neck-deep in their feelings about their childhood flashbacks.
"I miss them days, technology has taken away so much," wrote one commenter.
"Miss the 80s era but unfortunately us kids were the remote control," wrote another. (So true. Changing the channel was exercise.)
"The 80's cannot be explained...it was an experience...a complete vibe all its own...and if you missed it I'm so sorry for you!" wrote another.
And if you feel like there were some things missing, no worries. There's a Part Two:
The 80’s was the best decade Part 2 #80s #80skid #oldschool #genx #parents #funny #family #foryou #fyp
The ashtray in the back of the car seat! The phone booth! The Walkman! The overhead projector. So my childhood. I can practically taste the Tang and Twinkies.
Kids today will never know the ugly beauty of growing up in the '80s, but someday they'll have their own tales to tell their kids that they'll look on with fondness and nostalgia. "We used to spend hours building things with little digital blocks in Minecraft…"
There's never been anything like the '80s and there never will be again. Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Justin H.