Thursday, January 8, 2009

Old Head

I can actually remember the moment I got old. It's singed into my memory just as much as, if not more than, the time I lost my virginity. This wasn't the typical landmark of passing youth, like my 30th birthday or my wedding day or the day Livy was born. It was so unremarkable an event that I could easily have missed it. It happend one night in 2005 when Todd and I were laying in bed watching TV at 9:30, happily enjoying our programs, completely oblivious to the monumental, seismic shift about to take place. Suddenly, jarringly, the phone rang. And then it happened. We both looked at each other with surprise and I said "Who could be calling at this hour?"

When I was a teenager I used to know every musical artist and every song and every lyric to every song playing on pop stations on the radio. I couldn't even fathom that there would come a time when I wouldn't. But that time is now. (I'm coming alive! sorry... I love St. Elmo's fire) I am loathe to admit this opinion, but here it is: Half the shit played on the radio sounds the same to me. I feel as though they have the same exact song on a loop playing over and over and over. Of course, there are exceptions. The other half of the stuff they play is acceptable and/or discernable. Just don't ask me to identify the artists, especially of any song released after 1998. The bloom. It is off the rose.

The other day I was watching the New Year's Eve New York City Dick Clark special. And yes, Dick Clark is indeed very special. But I found myself empathizing with him. I guess the closer you get to dementia the less inclined you are to mock those who have gotten there right before you. After all, I've heard that karma is a pit bull. With rabies. And I've said enough to fuck with my Karma for a good 30 years, I certainly don't need to start making fun of Alzheimer afflicted, decrepit old men. During the course of the special, after a sea of strange faces, I finally recognized ONE of the stars performing on the show. That star is Lionel Richie. He is fabulous, obviously, but not the most contemporary artist on hand in Times Square.

Eventually they introduced this band of apparent boy wonders called The Jonas Brothers. Maybe you've heard of them. Your tween surely has. Anyway, these guys had their tooth pick legs crammed into like those tight stretch pants we used to wear in the 80's and one of them was wearing a fedora hat like he was fucking Humphrey Bogart and also their hair was just so...weird. I said, "What do the girls see in these guys? Why are they so wildly popular? I don't think they're attractive at all." And then it occurred to me. I'm 33 years old. I'm not supposed to find them attractive. If I did, I think that would be sort of icky. I'm more than okay with that. I infinitely prefer grown men who have regular, boring hair and wear normal fitting khaki pants and button-down J. Crew shirts over scrawny, metrosexual boys. I have arrived.

I'm also completely unfamiliar with the slang used by teenagers nowadays. I remember a few years ago, my friend said to me "Oh my God, her body is sick!" And I was like "She looks healthy enough to me. What's wrong with her?" Yeah, I know. I told you, I'm old. I don't even want to hear any of the trendy verbiage because by the time a word or phrase like that gets to me, I can assure you it's been out of any valid use for a long time. But once it's inside my brain, once it's unfortunately at my disposal, I run the risk of using it by accident in a moment of weakness and then coming off to people even more hopelessly dorky than I already do most of the time. When you have the amount of opinions that I have, and when you have this burning, innate need to firmly express them to anyone who will listen, this dorkiness is a definite liability. I don't want my awesome and perfect opinions to be overlooked because the people I'm sharing them with are too distracted by contempt; that same raging contempt I felt toward all those middle aged people in the mid-90's who thought that saying the phrase "Alrighty Then" 100 million times a day made them "hip" and "contemporary". It actually just made them objects of my grisly daydreams whereby I eviscerated them with a shiv fashioned out of duct tape and a destroyed Ace Ventura videotape.

I might have relinquished my youth physically and emotionally, but I just don't think my attitude is entirely aged. Well, maybe it is, but like a fine wine is aged. Like a good, stinky cheese is aged. I'm bitter to the osteoporotic bones, but that bitterness is a relic held over from my adolescence. Weather beaten but beautiful because it is weather beaten. My bitterness is really just a continuation of that wicked, girly angst that prompted so much bad writing, rancor, and disillusionment in high school. I can still relate to that cynical girl I was and, most importantly, I can still remember how it felt to be her. With each horrible poem, with each ambitious but unoriginal paper like the Death of Feminism in The Handmaid's Tale, I opened a little window into myself. Eventually, I found the door and opened it. Inside that door is all that you know about me and a little bit that you don't. And despite all the work I have yet to do, despite my flaws and bad habits, my anxiety, my 1/2 inch roots, my body image issues, and my ongoing love/hate relationship with humanity, I think that the teenage me, that "then Gwen", would be a little bit proud of the grown up me. Or at the very least, she'd be relieved to know I made it out of the unethical social experiment known as "High School" alive and with my sense of humor intact.

Today's youth seem to be a generally enlightened bunch. By and far they seem more tolerant than any preceding generation regarding homosexuality, sexual experimentation, and cultural differences. They seem to be forward-thinking and rational on important issues like gender equality, immigration, and foreign diplomacy. At least the portion of juveniles that choose to enlighten themselves in a meaningful way about social issues. But these compliments come with a caveat. In fact, a few caveats. Now that I'm old and crotchety I reserve the right to caution these whippersnappers on some real problems I have with their lifestyles, fashions, habits, and general ways of being. In fact I feel it's my duty to delineate some of the major issues. Because I'm awesome and kids today could really benefit from my special brand of tough love mentoring so that maybe one day they could be awesome, too.

1. Language reminders:
D is not equal to Th (e.g. "shake that" not "shake dat")
"S" and "Z" are not interchangeable (e.g. "girls" not "girlz")
"ing" not "in" (e.g. "chilling" not "chillin")
"should have" not "should of"
"don't know" not "dunno"
"got to" not "gotta"
"want to" not "wanna"

2. Stop putting words on your ass.

3. Saying "Whateva" after hearing something you don't like doesn't dissolve you of all responsibility for your past or future actions. Nor is it a powerful incantation that can magically discount any valid points made by the person who said them to you. The only thing it accomplishes is make you look like an ignorant asshole. Oh wait. I lied. It also makes my ears bleed.

4. No, that dress isn't the cutest thing EVER! Nothing is the cutest thing EVER! Especially not any person, object, or article of clothing that's unfortunate enough to be in your sphere. I suppose I could live with your constant over-exaggerations (OMG! Twilight is the BEST BOOK ever written in the history of the world! That purple glitter pen is the MOST AMAZING thing I've ever seen) if there were some kind of purpose for it other than grandstanding your idiocy. But until you can learn how to use hyperbole in comedic and meaningful ways, and you start talking about things that actually matter and don't suck, Shut. The Fuck. Up.

5. BFF. I know this "issue" may be a little bit dated, but please allow me to vent about what's happened. Girls, people have been writing BFF on the bottom of notes folded up into lovely, artful shapes for decades. You didn't invent it. Stop trying to act like saying BFF is edgy or new. It's not. Now if you want to bring back 2 young 2 pose 4 playboy, I could get behind that.

6. Nobody wants to hear you laugh. I hate your high-pitched cackles with the ire of a million nuclear explosions. Lower the volume or risk the introduction of a freshly sharpened axe to your esophagus.

And no I'm not writing this because I'm envious of your youth. I was already young and guess what? It sucked. I couldn't buy beer. I had low self-esteem and an acne problem. I read V.C. Andrews books. I lived with my parents. I didn't have any money for good drugs. And even if I did have money for drugs, I would have been too terrified by years of "Just Say No" campaigns and all those creepy films in Health class to buy them. Try growing up with Nancy Reagan's smug cat-butt face telling you about the dangers of drugs and see how you like it. Just see if you would ever fully recover. I need to "Just Say Yes" to drugs in order to deal with the horrible memories of her pinched, god-awful, ugly mug. So I can honestly say that if you were to offer me an all expense paid trip in a time machine back to 1993, I wouldn't go. Even if you asked me in the year 2050 when I'm bedridden at a urine scented geriatric facility, I'd take the last tiny bit of strength in my frail, grotesque, liver spotted body to tell you to take your time machine and shove it up your stupid ass (which is no doubt helpfully adorned with the word "Cheerleader" or "Princess" so it shouldn't be too hard for you to find it).

1 comment:

  1. This is the best. This goes through my head on a daily basis, but you put it down in words, and delightfully so. It was hilarious. THANK YOU.