ColumnConscious life, hear me roar.
A friend commented on a recent column I wrote, saying, “The last time I went to hear a band in Boston, I realized I’d become the creepy older guy in the back of the room.”
“Creepy?” I asked him. “We’ve become creepy?”
A few weeks ago I hit an indie music shop and instead of plopping down a dogeared album or a new band’s CD, I – completely embarrassed – laid down The Essential Simon & Garfunkel.
“Please, don’t say anything,” I said to the earlobe-gauged-20-something year old behind the counter. “I just like a few songs on this.”
“Hey,” he said from his perch looking down at me, “S&G have street cred!”
“Hmmmm….yes, they do,” I said, raising my eyebrows. “And staying power, too.”
Driving home from a meeting the following weekend, I called the only foodie I really know to tell her about my dinner.
“Oven fired pizza with local cheeses and veggies, and, don’t laugh at me, a beet, goat cheese, and spinach salad,” I said over her immediate laughter. But it tasted good regardless, I thought. And Simon and Garfunkel are still in music stores and I am still going to hear new bands – so have I really lost my edge?
I tried explaining it to my father.
“Edge?” He shouted, exasperated. “How do you ‘lose your edge?'”
I rubbed the rounded side of the dinner table. “Like this…not with an edge, dull, old hat.” He still didn’t get it. It was like I was speaking in a foreign tongue.
When is it we get to that point in our lives where we have the sudden (hard) realization that we are just that much older and not as cool? I’m not talking about saying words like gasoline, Sears & Roebuck and slacks, but that we just don’t have all the “right” words at just the right moment. We dance like we remember Uncle Don did at all those family weddings – freely but still, uncomfortably. When we go out with our closest friends who are a decade younger, people ask, “Is that your daughter?”
All those same, younger girlfriends see you as a “mentor,” someone with “so much experience” they can learn from, which is strange. You thought, the reason they wanted to hang out was because you were fun, not because you had anything to offer.
Walking through Midtown New York City a few Sundays ago en route to judge a handbag contest, I mused on all the times I’d walked alone in the city and how it never gets old. Being alone in a city, the possibilities are endless to just fade away and be someone else. It brings to mind a quote permanently tattooed in my head by British explorer and travel writer Freya Stark who once said: “To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.”
Pleasant and full of anonymity.
I use enough expensive organic beauty products to look younger than I am, so who knows I’m not one of those edgy friends 10 years my junior? Especially with sunglasses on. Who is really to know I like listening to Simon & Garfunkel and eat goat cheese and beet salads? For all they know, I’m “that badass chic in that band, you know the one, that’s her isn’t it?”
If we are to define what this edginess means – if we even care at all – then I’m going to have to go with the line of thought that says what is cool is what is not.
There’s always going to be band I know and have hung out on a tour bus with that earlobe dude has not, there’s always going to be that food I ate with the Bedouins in Africa that my friend hasn’t (yet), and of course there’s the fact that I’m not creepy. Never will be. Unless I try being something I’m not.
And that CD with Art Garfunkel sporting a blonde afro? If I told you it reminded me of driving through the canyons in New Mexico with wrapped sage on my dash and carved animal totems, that it reminds me of some of the sweetest moments of my life adventuring alone with my dad’s old camera to take pictures of cliff dwellings and ruins, then maybe I’ve just convinced myself that getting older doesn’t make you creepy at all – it just makes you edgier from all the experience.