Oh, Grow Up!

Confession time! I bought this belt at Hot Topic, and J wanted to know how old I was. I felt a bit sheepish at first, but then I proudly said “I’m 13!” Yeah, it’s kind of ridiculous that someone of my age is shopping for clothes at Hot Topic, playing drums, and loves a lot of music that’s popular with the “kids.” 

 I’m a parent, I’ve been married since 1993, I’ve got a impressive credential from an impressive university, I’m a homeowner, I have a car payment, a f/t job, hair loss, and all the other signs that signify adulthood. However, I can’t help it if the things that give me a good deal of joy happen to reflect the tastes of people in their teens and 20s. I was starting to think that I was going through a midlife crisis, but then I heard a program on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” that spotlight adults who have tastes very much like my own.

This new book (right), and an article in the New York Magazine have pointed to a large segment of Gen X and Gen Y adults who aren’t ready to relegate their “youth” to the past and concentrate on the sober, important things that “serious” adults should be focusing on.

When I look in the mirror, I know I’m seeing a middle aged guy who should know better. But you know what? I also know that my mid 20s and 30s were consumed by two grad school experiences where I fretted over lecture notes and footnotes — because that’s what “serious” adults needed to focus on. And because of those years where I slaved way at what I thought was important, I shelved my other interests because they were not “practical.” I’m still very serious about many issues when it comes to the state of the world, but I also feel that’s it’s very important not to discard your more youthful passions simply because they don’t “fit” into your age bracket.

What does this all mean?  I guess on the one hand it’s about people in my generation (and younger) not wanting to give up their childhood things.  But on the other, it really is about imbibing in those things that bring joy into your life. I think because it’s not mindless yuppie consumption for consumption sake, but rather a more specific type of pop cultural consumption (i.e., buying products that are clearly not marketed to your age bracket), that cultural critics glom onto because, well, it’s a novel topic that sells books and magazines! 

I remember back in the mid 90s when I was a Teaching Assistant doing a discussion session for an American History class, I wore a vest that was kind of trendy at the time.  One of my students commented that she liked the vest and I said “Oh, this is my 90210 vest that Dylan might wear.”  Shock ensued, and then another student asked: “Do you really watch 90201?”  When I said “Yes,” the retort was:  “I thought you would be more interested in Masterpiece Theatre.”  Ouch!  But see?  Adult=boring, sober, and serious tastes.

So, you’ll excuse me as I depart to attend to my financial investments, buy a new tweed jacket…and maybe another studded belt at Hot Topic. 🙂

 –PK