Dec 9, 2006

Age is Just a Number?

What the hell made me think I was so special? I always swore that I would never get wierd about age—when I turned 30 I wouldn't get all moany, I would never say kids these days, and I'd never feel those constant reminders of how old I am.

Boy, was I wrong. I spent today learning about information graphics (just go with it, I'll bring it back around). Edward Tufte, the mad genius of the subject, pointed us to a chart on the "marketing trends and stylistic patterns in the development of pop/rock music" (scroll down that link to see the chart). A beautiful thing, that chart is, and I immediately gravitated to the far left-hand corner, where rockabilly was crammed in between shlock rock and vocal group r 'n' r. Of course it starts with Bill Haley and Elvis, but then it flows right into country: Ferlin Huskey, Johnny Cash, Don Gibson. Now, as I'm smiling to myself because the room (whose mean age was probably 45) was all atwitter about the Monkees and Bobby Sherman (no, seriously) while I was singing "Automatic Mama" in my head, I hear E.T. drop the bombshell: "I'm sure some of you of a certain age will recognize some of the names on here."

Excuse me?! Of a certain age? All due respect to the god of quantiative information display, I spent my late teens and early 20s as a record store clerk on both coasts, and I probably have half of that chart in my collection. Why must anyone over 40 assume that us 30 year olds have no appreciation for Duane Eddy or Dave Brubeck or Jimmy Rogers? I'm 30, fer chrissakes! I'm supposed to be feeling old, not young!

All of which reminds me of the days when I was still on the shy side of 30, slinging drinks, listening to all my older friends whispering in my ear just you wait—you'll see how old you'll feel (see, I told you I'd bring it back around). I was working at the bar pictured above, a nice little neighborhood dive filled with older folk who made me feel like E.T. did today—too damn young to appreciate anything with history, anything nuanced or wise. So I knew it would never happen to me. I'd never feel too old.

And then I carded my first 80s kid. Y'know, the kids who dress like it's 1982 even though they were freakin' two years old at the time. Well, the only reason they do that is because they don't know that fashion in 1982 sucked. Really badly. Like, worse than the 70s, right?!

It was bound to happen, and it happened overnight. All of a sudden, the bar was filled with these kids who'd just turned 21. And they were all born after 1980. Ouch. Wow, did I feel old—until today, when I was reminded that I'm still too young to appreciate Hank Ballard.

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