The frequently brilliant, manic mother who blogs at Breed 'Em And Weep discovered that her 1980's pop culture references were utterly lost on the young and hip in this great post. As always, Jenn's delivery is excellent and judging by the scores of comments, her loyal readers could definitely relate to her awkward realization that the seminal influences on her 30-something identity were not even ancient history to the undergraduates of today, some of whom were born after the Reagan years; they had absolutely no frame of reference for them. It's not like Say Anything is in heavy rotation at your local Blockbuster, or that "Who You Gonna Call?" has any more meaning today than "Where's the Beef?"
Doubtless there comes a time for every generation of American parents when they suddenly discover that their children consider them hopelessly square. The very terms I have available to me at 39 to describe parental uncoolness are so That Seventies Show, but adopting the cant of modern youth wears about as well as a Herb Tarlek blazer at a State dinner. You know, he was that cheesy marketing guy on WKRP? Doctor Johnny Fever? Loni Anderson? How about Barney Miller; he wore ties that were just as loud. Right, I'll crawl back under my stone, now. Peace out.
I used to sing a capella in college (how 80's is that?) and went back for a 20th anniversary alumni concert last year. I was one of the very old guys who remembered the days when if you were planning on having more than 50 people to your kegger you applied to the Large Party Fund and made sure you had at least one tap with birch beer and some attractive high protein snacks in ready view to satisfy the college that we underage drinkers were doing so responsibly. Ancient history indeed, as was my attempt at levity when some mod young thing - wearing a tee shirt that unabashedly proclaimed that he had done something unprintable with your boyfriend - was trying to get all of us old guys to line up of the steps of Founder's Hall and I raised my hand and said:
“Can I raise a practical question at this point? Are we gonna do “Stonehenge?”
No one born since I was a freshman in college understood what the hell I was talking about (and had there been anyone there over 50, I doubt they would have either, but if so, then rock on). A few paunchy, gray-streaked and balding alums about my age doubled over in fits of inexplicable laughter. Spinal Tap was a cult classic back in my day, like Harold and Maude or The Graduate was for my parents' generation and for all I know South Pacific was for my grandparents. I haven't a clue what the equivalent is for today's 18-year-olds. Something on YouTube, probably.
But youth is not just about the new. It is also about renewal, like finding something in your parent's old LPs that no one else is listening to today and making it your own - which is how I discovered CSN and that John Paul Jones had an acoustic solo album as well as playing bass for Led Zeppelin. "My daddy was the family bassman / My mamma was an engineer." Amazing what those people listened to and how cool it could be to rediscover. As long as modern technology is able to play it, that is. There are lots of 8 tracks out there doing nobody any good at all.
My kids are too young to be thoroughly brainwashed by pop culture, though 1st grade is doing its best to acculturate my daughter and one of these days she'll realize that other people have televisions that play more than DVDs and are actually hooked up to cable. My days as the coolest Dad are severely numbered, but I take solace in recalling that time is on my side (yes it is) and obscure cultural references are what keep associate professors of English off the streets and provide witty titles for blog posts. So when someone much older than you asks you if we're gonna do Stonehenge, remember;
"It's such a fine line between stupid, and clever." Words to which bloggers of all ages can certainly relate.