Getting Old is Getting Old


It’s not that I’m bitter about being older than our current president. Somebody has to do it. Nor do I dislike having grey hair − what little I have left, that is. The fact is, my hair started turning grey and falling out roughly 20 seconds after I got out of high school, so I’ve had a lot of time to get used to it. I generally wear it kinda long and wild. I like to think that it gives me a certain Walt Whitman-esque quality of wisdom and latent sexual potency. In fact it mostly makes me look like one of those dudes who stands outside of the White House mumbling about Obama being an alien lizard clone, but leave me my illusions.

Hell, I don’t even mind being one of the oldest guys in my office. I’m used to it. Ten years ago my AOL co-workers nicknamed me “Mean old Mr. Wilson,” a title I wore with great pride.

No, what annoys me most about being on the cusp of geezerhood is that I’m becoming increasingly disconnected from modern pop culture. It’s just slipped away from me while I wasn’t looking.

Like who the hell is Kanye West? I know he’s kinda an idiot and is involved in the music business, but how? Is he a rapper? Are there still rappers, or is everything hip hop now? What the hell is the difference between rap and hip hop, anyway? According to the Wikipedia, in 2008 MTV crowned West as the year’s #1 Hottest MC in the Game. What does that mean? Does he spin records, or does he make ’em? Does anybody even say “records” any more?

Great God Almighty − I check Wikipedia to decipher cultural references! How pathetic is that?

Mind you, I’m in slightly better shape than some people I could mention but won’t − my wife, for instance. On more than one occasion I’ve actually heard her say, “I can’t believe her mother lets her go out dressed like that!” Please. I’m at least “in the know” enough to understand that today’s parents have as little control over what their kids wear as does the American Cheese Advisory Board. But beyond that, I’m totally lost.

There’s another issue with my advancing dodderingness. The other day while closing up our pool I was hosing down the pool blanket. It, being made of slick plastic, became the moral equivalent of a water-slide. Well my feet slipped out from under me and I took a huge purler, rising up into the air and coming down with a large “whump,” not unlike a humpback whale breaching in the morning sun. The only thing I could think of while sailing majestically through the air was, “I hope I don’t break a hip or something.”

Crap. Is that what I have to look forward to? Does Mick Jagger worry about throwing his back out while he’s doing the chicken dance on stage, when he should be worrying about looking like a total idiot? That’s just depressing.

And don’t get me started on my prostate. You can’t turn on the TV for more than 30 seconds without seeing some commercial warning me about my prostate. My prostate is just fine, thank you very much. I think we’d all be much happier if nobody brought up the subject of my prostate again, especially on TV during dinner time.

In fact, in order to never, ever see another commercial about my prostate, from now on I’m gonna watch shows with a much younger demographic. Goodbye, Golf Channel! From now on it’s Xtreme Sports and MTV music videos for me! I’ll be back “in the groove” in no time!

What do you mean MTV doesn’t show music videos any more? When did that happen?

Really. That long ago.

Man, getting old is just getting old.

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7 Responses to “Getting Old is Getting Old”

  1. Scott G. Says:

    I have a solution to not getting out of step with my kids’ culture – I am just firmly jamming them into mine. No kiddie music for them (and especially no Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana!). They’re stuck with Queen, Journey, Styx, Heart and the like (which, fortunately, they love). If I can’t understand their culture, they can’t have it. So there.

    Leave me my illusions that this will work, please.

  2. chezhouse Says:

    People just like to label. I think labeling is old. Can’t I just be some creature that has a lot of different attributes, not just one?

    Dear God, if one more conservative tries to bait me because they sense I’m a LIBERAL…

    • Paul Murphy Says:

      Dude, labels are totally necessary. Otherwise we’d have to actually get to know somebody before deciding to hate them. That’s way too much work.

  3. KQ Says:

    Ah, your title sums it well! I can’t relate to the ignorance of music culture because I am terribly hip, but I hear ya on the prostate thing…prostates used to be fun, like breasts, before the incessant cancer hoo-ha. I suppose I should feel grateful that some slice of popular culture sees fit to address the concerns of the 40-something woman (e.g., new tv show “Cougar Town” and the weirdly repellent/engrossing magazine “Cookie”) but the result is that we (40ish females) spend even more time pining and striving. I meditated deeply on this topic and as a result, decided to live until I am 150 years old, thus recalibrating the scale. That makes me a teen again — cheerfully ripe and ready for life but sans acne and crushing insecurity. I suggest you conclude the same and imagine what your 150 year old self would say to you now: “Oh you silly head, you have no clue what OLD is! Now slick back your hairs, unleash those sick pythons* and go power wash the barn!”.

    We suffer a dearth of rituals to clarify the transitions from one phase of life to another (see works of J. Campbell for more on this topic) so we never adequately restructure our expectations of what Life Should Be Like (except when someone like Obama is elected, but that doesn’t clarify our relationship to our prostates). Therefore, I think we need to invent rituals that enable one to shed an old, younger self in favor of a newer, older one. Said rituals should involve fire, an altered state of consciousness, some period of confusion, voyaging, witnesses, symbolic stuff, and a new marker of identity (scars, scepter, bionic third eye, etc.). I’m in if you want a witness.

    Now get off the computer and go watch the CW!

    *Hip way of saying “impressive, muscly arms” — which I assume you have what with living on a farm and stuff.

  4. Teen Angle Says:

    You say, and I quote, “I like to think that it [your hairdo] gives me a certain Walt Whitman-esque quality of wisdom and latent sexual potency.”

    Given that Walt Whitman seems to have been a largely celibate gay man, I agree that you have captured this impression uncannily. One might add that your dress captures the worldly sophistication of Emily Dickinson. It’s all good.

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