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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Middle-aged senior citizen


So far I’m enjoying the descent into agedness. I’m nowhere near the theoretical end to the human lifespan, but already I’ve become a stereotypical senior citizen. My physical deterioration isn’t too swift, but the social parts are really kicking it up a notch.
Modern music all sounds the same. It’s just noise. Most of it seems to include a “spoken word” portion (they call this new-fangled thing “rap” apparently) where in my day the same position was taken up by a thirty minute guitar solo. (This was done so the lead singer could slip backstage for another toke, I’ve always believed.) My own preferences regarding television and movies are drifting further and further away from the mainstream. I look back with fondness on John Hughes, and miss the Brat Pack, John Candy, and basically everyone from the cast of SCTV. What happened to Joe Flaherty? The last time I saw him was in Happy Gilmore; surely someone talented enough to play Count Floyd would have no lack of acting opportunities. When I was growing up, you could be almost certain a movie would have at least one set of breasts for your young eyes to ogle. Now they go for “f-bombs.” I’m sure today’s teenage boys would much rather have the boobies (although I suppose that’s what the internet is for).
I don’t understand the way kids dress. I find myself thinking “There’s no way I’d let MY daughter leave the house looking like that.” Most of their speech is still intelligible to me, although the context is not. They are using English words, I’m sure of it, but discussing topics that have no footprint in my brain. It’s like listening to a couple of particle physicists discussing boson versus fermion spin parameters (except I might have a slightly greater chance of understanding the physicists). As Lisa said on the Simpsons: “I know those words, but that sign makes no sense.”
Cell phones don’t confuse me, but in the same way that my father can’t touch-type his way out of a wet paper bag (who could, really?), I can’t match the dervish-speed a teenager uses to hammer out text messages. You’ve never seen thumbs move so quickly. They do this while nonchalantly slouching along, often in the midst of a group of friends, all similarly engaged with their phones. For all I know, they are texting each other. If Bluetooth could be implanted in the jawbone, I’m sure all their communications would be sub-vocal and you’d never hear a teenager speak again (is that really such a bad thing?). As for video games, once a favourite pastime of mine, they have gone far beyond me. The break-point was when Mortal Kombat hit the arcades and I found myself getting my butt handed to me by eleven-year olds. 
Instead of fighting the differences, I am embracing them. It’s enjoyable to me to be able to say things like “when I was your age” or “kids don’t know anything; they just think they do.” One of my favourites is “I’m old enough to be your father.” There’s no doubt that these little maxims are annoying. But so what? It is the societal privilege of the elderly to be able to pester the young, for haven’t the young pestered them in return? Maybe I’m not quite “eld” enough to be considered truly elderly, yet I would contend that’s only a sign of the times. The world moves fast. Kids grow up in a blink, acting like petulant teenagers as early as 9 or 10, so why can’t the rest of us jump ahead to a new age bracket, too? This way I get to enjoy being crotchety for decades.

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