Thursday, July 26, 2007

How I Know I'm Getting Old

I'm listening to two new young co-workers, say 23, 24 years old, try to figure out some song that's going through their heads.

"What is that song? It's an old song...really old."

I'm thinking, "Stones? The Who? Beatles?"

Nope. It's "Peaches". By The Presidents of the United States of America. Released in 1995.


Anonymous said...

Of all the unfortunate prejudices a person might choose from, ageism has always stuck me as one of the most immediately self-belittling. Nothing shouts louder, "I'm a clueless dolt who can't comprehend the scale of human history and the brevity of an individual lifespan!" than classifying recent pop culture artifacts as "old."

Paul McCartney clearly recognized, and felt tremendous affection for, the stages of human life experience beyond his own when he wrote "When I'm 64" and "Your Mother Should Know." Why is this perspective so lost on your co-workers, I wonder? As a teenager, I was smart enough to recognize at least how stupid and inexperienced I was, and as much as I enjoyed being young I certainly hoped to live to be an old person someday when I wouldn't be constantly thwarted by my own ignorance.

What's doubly unfortunate is that this lack of perspective does not exclusively afflict only the young. Maybe it's just me, but I've been unfortunate enough to have met many mature adults who have caused me to wonder, "How did you manage to live so long and still never get a clue?" Marty, I think you and I are roughly the same age (turning 40 in October), and I know that I still have conversations with my parents' peers (or older) who tell me - after I've already demonstrated my knowledge of the subject at hand - "How would you know that? That happened before you were born!" Hey Gramps, the whole history of the world happened before YOU were born! How do any of us know anything?! You would think that a person who spent a lifetime acquiring wisdom, knowledge, and perspective would be able to claim more than just their advanced age to distinguish themselves.

Or maybe it has less to do with the passing of time and age than simply a symptom of a culture with an accelerated consumerist obsession with "newness"?

Marty McKee said...

I honestly don't hold it against them, as I don't think their perspective is uncommon and maybe it's even natural. When I was younger, I had an interest in older pop culture--I watched GILLIGAN'S ISLAND and MCHALE'S NAVY, I read the Hardy Boys and biographies of old baseball players, I listened to the Beatles and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Not sure that I considered them "old" though. Well, maybe I did, but I certainly didn't consider them to be beyond interest merely because of it, and I wasn't only interested in culture from "before my time." But I think that attitude was unusual then and still is (but probably more so today).

For some reason, in a recent conversation with another younger coworker (around 25?), the sitcom HAPPY DAYS came up. She barely knew what I was talking about. "That's before my time!" Well, geez, there is such a thing as reruns and now DVD. I wouldn't recommend watching HAPPY DAYS on DVD, because I don't think it's a very good show, but it seems odd to me that a hip young adult wouldn't even know what it is.

Come to think of it, a couple of friends of mine in their late 20s had no idea who Traci Lords was. Now that I find surprising.

Neil Sarver said...

I agree that it's natural.

Honestly, there are two issues here. I think a respect and understanding of what came before is important in life. Like Marty, I always had an interest in pop culture that preceded my life or at least "my time"... not knowing about "Happy Days" now seems absurd to me as I knew what "I'm Dickens, He's Fenster" was when I well before that age and that's nothing like as culturally iconic... but I know intellectually that my perspective is unusual.

That said, there is the quality of hearing something and thinking "That's old." It never happens to me with The Beatles or Beethoven, both of which came and went before I was born, although the former only by a matter of months. It happens with things that my memory can slot as once being new and now feels old by the passage of a long period of my life. It sounds to me, from the story, as if that's the perspective those young folks had on "Peaches".

And now I feel old, too.

The Masked Vigilante said...

Maybe you just work with douche bags!!

I agree w/ the previous posts. I too have always been an appreciator of here and now and what's come before it. As a kid I vividly remember checking "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", on vinyl, out of the public library.

There's the flip side too, though. The people who think nothing current is good; just the stuff they dug when they were in their late teens, early twenties. And refuse to have any interest in anything good in the present. This applies to all the arts, particularly music.

But the people who posted here are like you and me. And then there are those who are only interested in what's immediately popular. What's on the radio. What's the box office giant of the summer. What's Oprah recommend.

Those people are douche bags who are missing the single greatest pleasure in life -- even above fucking, or at least tied -- THE ARTS.

You work with douche bags. Hang around cooler people.


Hal said...

I don't know, I always take some sense of pride in sharing some works of art with younger co-workers who may have never heard of it, but become big fans after watching it and ask me, "Man, when did you find out about that one?"

USED CARS, for example, has an almost perfect record of winning folks over.

mg said...

Oh Marty. I am much younger than you and not much older than those coworkers. That song is not old, because if it is I am old because I most surely remember the first day it played on the radio..and I know I am not old yet. I must note that there is another thing happening here- we have many opportunities to realize we are getting old. Even someone as young as me. When my students (18-21 years old..some even 17, all college newbies) talk about an "old" movie or an "old" song or when I share a joke or make a movie reference they don't get- I feel old. But I'm not. You aren't really either. Ok..maybe a little. But you hang out with such young chickies you keep your youth! LOL.

Anyway, I sympathize and apologize for the people in/near my generation that have no clue. I would never say something from the 90s is old. Then again, my students think the internet and email is old and I remember the first email I ever sent. Ugh.

Miss talking to you...hope you aren't aging so fast we can't catch up soon!