in Complain

Chasm. Youth. Wider.

As the chasm between me and my youth creeps ever wider, I find myself observing the behavior of younger folks less like we’re distant peers and more like I’m a miserly old researcher in a frayed lab coat with a salt and pepper combover.

Many many months ago, the Geester and I attended a birthday party for one of the Geester’s cousins who happened to be teen-aged at the time (not sure how old she is now). Upon opening one of her gifts, she exclaimed, “Oh. My. God.” What was in the box is not important, and her response was not at all unusual for someone in her demographic. I remember thinking that people have been saying Oh. My. God. since I was in middle school back when the girls who said it were referred to as ‘bops’ and they had bangs that could be used to guide maverick Space Shuttles to safety. (This is the part where you try to remind me of tight-rolled, acid-washed jeans, and I pretend to not know what you’re talking about.)

There may or may not have been some zoning out on my part during these particular gift-opening festivities and I began to ponder the two long pauses in the phrase Oh. My. God. I wondered how much of my life I’ve spent waiting for someone to get from Oh to My and then from My to God. I started to think about what would be required to calculate such a figure, but quickly realized it nigh impossible as the two pauses have different lengths every single time the phrase is spoken. In fact, I’d venture there’s almost as much variance in the phrase Oh. My. God. and there is in the word dude. Not quite, but almost. I don’t ever use the phrase with exaggerated pauses, primarily because the valley girl within this one is weak, but I do say OMIGOD! with no pauses whatsoever quite often, usually when I’m in the process of dropping something expensive and/or dangerous.

What the hell was I just talking about?

Oh yeah, the chasm between myself and youth culture. It widens. Most notably, I’ve recently noticed, “not getting” music more and more frequently. Don’t get me wrong, I am awash these days in so much quality music I actually experience pangs of anxiety at my inability to consume even a small percentage of it. I feel like I’ve been steadily falling behind for years. But, periodically, when I do finally dive in and go exploring, I often find myself with a furled brow asking, ” … what.” The most recent instance of was a few days ago creating a muxtape. Reviewing other people’s muxtapes (of which there are thousands) yielded a metric truckload of music that quite simply zoomed past my ears. I found myself conceding, “So … this is what kids are listening to these days. I see.”

I’m casting a very wide net here, and citing specific examples (like, say, so many artists’ tendencies to replace or augment traditional instruments with synthesized beeps and clicks or this inherent need for pop music to be precious and mousey) will only serve to undermine my point. I’ve never been surprised to feel older as I actually get older, but it always gives me pause when I feel like I’m missing out on something, not for lack of trying to understand but something beyond my realm of control, like because I’m “from another time” or some such cliché. I am certainly cynical and egotesticleâ„¢ enough to believe that it is I who gets it and everyone else is a moron. Another way to put it would be that I am acutely aware of the emotional attachment I’ve had to music my entire life. And when I listen to a lot of new music and imagine thousands of people having a similarly strong emotional attachment … it kind of bums me out.

And that’s pretty much it. Good talk.

  1. Just the other day T. and I were talking about how much better music was in the early to mid-90s.

    And then we felt old.

  2. I’ve gone back and listened to some of the music I listened to when I was younger, and sometimes I don’t even get what appealed to me then. And sometimes I do get it, but can also understand how someone older or younger might have found it a little obtuse or perhaps a lot mind-numbingly stupid.

    I don’t have as much enthusiasm for some music anymore, while I’ve gained appreciation for other music. I used to hate most 80s music, but now I kind of appreciate in all its cheesy materialistic coke-fueled exuberance, primarily because I know what I used to listen to was just as dumb, just in a different way.

  3. “oh, shit” works as well.

    can’t listen to anything past 1994, ‘cept for Electric Six, which is kind-of like metal disco. None of this new clean white-boy, uh, ‘punk’ cloned music does it for me.

    guess the old grunge stuff from the mid-90′s sounds kind of the same when you listen to it, but it really doesn’t.

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