Friday, February 19, 2010

How to deflate your ego in three simple steps

Anything that happened in the years prior to my birth, didn't actually exist for me. Scratch that. Before the year my consciousness acquired the capacity for long-term memory, there is a big, black nothing. To a certain extent, the concept of nineteen seventy-anything felt false. Oh, I knew it was out there. My siblings were born in the 70's. Some were born in the 60's. But for me, the early-to-mid-80's marked the beginning of time as I knew it.

And I guess that is how it goes when you're young. History is some vacuumous black hole of nonexistence. And then one day it isn't. Somewhere along the way, I pulled my ostrich-like youthful head out of the narcissism I'd buried it in, looked around, and realized there were people who remember exactly where they were the day Kennedy was shot. Just as I remember the moment my mother came rushing into my smart-enough-to-schedule-classes-on-Mon-Weds-Fri-only-college-era bedroom to wake me with her tears on the morning of September 11, 2001.

I sit at my desk grading student essays about emerging trends and I feel slapped in the face by how very little my students know about the world. I read of the dreadful (not their opinion, mine) re-emergence of acid wash jeans, facebooking, iPods. I read lines about how iPods made listening to music on-the-go a popular activity (anybody ever heard of a Walkman/Discman/Boom Box?) I read lines that parallel boot cut jeans with the 90's (wait, don't I still buy boot cut?). One student writes about how adults are finally catching on to the Facebook craze (because, apparently, the first members of FB weren't adults--apparently, teenagers set all trends?).

It is reiterated to me that 17 years ago, the age of most of my juniors, it was 1993. Their capacity for long-term memory kicked in somewhere around 1996. 1996! And their perception of 1996 was through the eyes of a three-year-old.

They're babies.

I suddenly feel very old. Very old and weathered. Yesterday, I swear, I was young and hip and semi-trendy. Yesterday, I was the youthful expert on cutting edge technology. I had great taste. I listened to the indie, the edgie, the youthful. But not today. Today I'm the tired old teacher-lady informing a student that it was an "8 track" not an "Atrax", and that 30 is, in fact, not quite middle aged. Today I am the boring, unhip woman who droned on about something-something-something "you'll be at the movies and there'll be a gaggle (yeah, old women use "gaggle") of young hoodlums (they use "hoodlums" too) seated behind you. And you'll think to yourself Phhht! Teenagers! I was never that annoying! I'm here to tell you--and remember this moment--you were."

* image found here

P.S. The best part about all of this, of course, is that they get to look back through photos of their adolescence in acid wash and wonder, What in the hill was I thinking? This comforts me at night.


Kris said...

My vote is that if you wore a trend the first go 'round, you should likely not do it again. (Maybe I stole this from Stacey London, I'm not really sure.) Anyway, I sported some truly hideous colored, tapered leg jeans in elementary school, and I refuse to go there again. Also, most anything neon colored and/or splashed with paint.

Shannon said...

PLEASE do not tell me that stone washed jeans are back in vogue. That is news of the grossest atrocity.

And I hear you on being "old" and "out-dated". I have personally found consolation in sending thoughts such as: "You'll get yours" and "'ll know what I mean" through the air to unsuspecting and naive little teeny boppers. Maybe I should be sending the inverse, like: "May you stay young and untouchable forever" because man, my immortality complex just did NOT last long enough. ;)

Jen said...

I refuse to believe in the stone washed jeans re-emergence. How could society make that mistake twice?

Also, 30 is practically 20 now. I was pretty much a teenage mother.

wendy said...

I am glad I stopped by for this visit.
I love HISTORY. If I believed in reincarnation...I'd love to live in and experience all the different time periods of the world ---and really SEE it.

I am 58, and I refuse to sit by a gaggle of hoodlums in the theatre (tee,hee)
cause I had ALOT more manners then they do now (ah, tee, hee again)

and I have no Ipod, no cell phone, rarely facebook, (no one really
SAYS anything??, "I went to the store, couldn't find any creamer I like"....sooooooo

see what an old fuddy duddy I am getting to be even though I like to think I am HOT, HIP, and still very COOL

and I was in the 8th grade when Kennedy was shot. They sent us all home from school...this was in Calgary Alberta Canada.

Anonymous said...

Girl it only gets worse! Why is it that my body is falling apart but I feel like a young adult in my mind.

I WAS a teenage mom and now I definitely do not feel old enough to be taking my teenage daughter to youth dances. Oh, and if I ever acted like some of those kids I just had the pleasure of watching, why didn't somebody SHOOT me? Because I NEVER acted like that!! That's why! You hear me, NEVER!

Camille said...

Hi - found you through MMB in the single parent category. I can relate! To your single parenthood and "growing old"! :) Cute post!

Libby said...

Oh the teens...

The thing that bothers me the most is the "raise your volume level when you think you're saying something funny/provocative/smart to attract dudes" ploy that teen girls pull. You sound dumb, girls. Plus the rest of us don't actually want to hear about it!

Alas, I can still remember using this ploy. Come to think of it, I don't know if it actually ever worked....No, I don't think it did.

Stine said...

Just turned 40 and I "still" act like that. But I guess you know that being my MUCH, MUCH younger sister. I'm so glad at least, that there is a generation that makes you feel all the things I was feeling about you and the kiddies your age ten years ago.

By the way, in case I haven't said it in awhile, your writing delights me. And Happy Birthday again darling.