Dear Limp Bizkit,

I’m writing mostly to thank you, which I have a feeling isn’t something that happens all that often. My apologies if that, or any of this, comes across as curt; honest, I’m on your side.

See, 1998 and 1999 were my anni mirabiles. I was eleven, so that’s sad as hell, I know, but listen. That was when a schism in my Catholic school occurred — between sexes, between phases in our individual bodies (at least mine — I got my first period and had to play the snare drum in a school band concert — standing up! — the same night), and, like every fucking ’90s teen movie ever, between cliques, namely the “popular” kids and the “alternative” kids (because, didn’t you know, there are really only like five kinds of people??) –and we didn’t have Tumblr or anything to help navigate these differences. Nobody got along and it was horrendous.

But, wait. Not all of it. Because 1998 was also — November 12, to be exact — when the music video for “Faith” debuted on Total Request Live. It squeaked right in there at number ten, helping round out what was, actually, a pretty solidly “alternative” list, save for the boy bands who held on tightly to the top.

No offense, but I do wish that my musical epiphany happened like, at Woodstock, or while seeing the Ramones live, or hearing the Beatles for the first time, or during fucking anything else, but it didn’t. It happened that day, while I was sitting on a ratty brown sofa-bed, probably still half in my school uniform, eating Dunkaroos, watching you, Fred, mime-scream George Michael lyrics into a fisheye lens. Watching you sign the breast of a girl with a blurred-out face. Watching you flip off your own audience a half-second before you launch into the chorus.

That’s when everything changed for me. That following year, guided by your muddy guitars, I slid into an identity chiseled by the buzz-bin MTV gods and sculpted by modern rock radio. I begged my mom to take me to head shops to buy iron-on Korn patches. I wasn’t scared of Hot Topic anymore. A few boys thought I was “rad” to hang out with (but not to date or kiss or like). I bought two anole lizards, and I named them Fred and Wes (Fred died immediately and Wes escaped; I found a shriveled lizard carcass at the back of my closet two years later). I saved allowance for a red Yankees cap, although I never wore it outside the house, except maybe once to my sister’s stupid gymnastics practice, which I was dragged to against my will, obviously.

So why am I thanking you? What exactly did all of this do to me, or for me? Well, eventually I realized that it wasn’t the rap-singing, or the all-black contact lenses, that drew me to you. It was your anger –and it was the same anger that had drawn countless hormonal, disaffected teens (or pre-teens) to music their parents hated for generations upon generations. It was the angst within lyrics like “shut the fuck up” and “stick it up your (yeah),” not the lyrics themselves, that I really connected with.

(Although, really, how much more relatable could a lyric be than “It’s just one of those days/Where you don’t want to wake up/Everything is fucked/Everybody sucks”? So pure. So honest.)

Yes, I moved on. And I guess I’m not super apologetic about that. But I am sick of hiding away my nü-metal past like a receding hairline under a fuzzy Kangol bucket hat. I’m sick of, when asked by an old friend if I remember when I used to wear JNCO jeans, not saying yeah of course I fucking do, and do you know how comfortable that shit was? and instead, nodding bashfully, and acting like I don’t remember that time she wanted a Dave Matthews fire dancer tattoo.

A year or so later, when someone stole Significant Other out of my 48-CD zipper binder during a bus trip to Boston, I was bummed, but now I realize that, too, was a gift. That empty sleeve just opened up room for more music –better, more respectable music (again, sorry) –but music I probably wouldn’t have discovered if you hadn’t come into my life.

So, thank you, Limp Bizkit. And I’m sorry I outgrew you before Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water, but wasn’t that about buttholes? I mean, come on.

Emily Costa