Thursday, June 07, 2007

Growing Older With a Modicum of Dignity

I’m growing old. My marriage failed, my body’s failing, my hair is graying, and my favorite music is played only on the “Good Times Oldies” station. My Generation is a nostalgic blast from the past. The Wall has been relegated to elevator music. Some day soon, some business will feature The Fugs as their “on hold” music. It’s only a matter of time. All the songs I danced to in high school are now available on a double CD called Retro-Night. (“Thomas Dolby! Split Enz! Trio! The Buggles! The Boomtown Rats! Flying Lizards! Howard Jones! Blondie! Modern English! The Bangles! Now how much would you pay?”) The music of my youth has been marginalized into a great offer from PolyTel.
I am a demographic that no longer matters.
At first, I felt rejected. I’d walk into trendy clothing stores, aghast. Nothing appealed to me (including the muzak.). I shouldn’t have to feel guilty just because I don’t like having the crotch of my pants down at my knees. Why can’t I just find a decent pair of pants? I could go to Sears, but at Sears if the crotches aren’t at my knees, then the waistbands are around my chest. Sorry, but pants modeled by either Marky Mark or Arnold Palmer do not appeal to me!
Then one day, I had a revelation. I was looking at some sort of pseudo-sweater made from a fabric I couldn’t readily identify in a store with a name like Sassafrasparilla. It sported an unidentifiable logo and a slogan that played on some joke I didn’t understand. It was a colour I would never wear. There was a poster of some sports star I’d never heard of wearing it. Then I realized something: this sweater wasn’t meant for me.
Not only was the sweater not meant for me, but the marketing of the sweater wasn’t meant for me, either.
I was suffering the ultimate indignity; advertisers were no longer after my money. They are after the cash of pennywise seniors and pennyfoolish youth; people who’ve had forty years to save money, and people who can’t hang onto money for forty seconds. Me, I’m in the clear now; I’m too young to have saved money, and I’m old enough to have already spent whatever money I had.
My power in society is ebbing.
I felt so ashamed that I sheepishly went to Mark’s Workwear World and bought some blue jeans and a denim shirt.
But surprisingly, there is an upside to this.
No longer do I have to feel guilty that I am hopelessly out of style and not clothed in the latest chic fashions. That’s a great feeling because most of what passes for fashion these days is so damn UGLY! Put your baseball cap on the right way, Skippy! Now when I need clothes, I wander through the malls and laugh at the poor souls who are slaves to the advertising gods. Supplicate yourself to them if you must, worship Bay Street’s image of perfection if it brings you inner satisfaction. I don’t need – or want – to wear that stuff. I don’t like it. I’m not buying. It ain’t me.
And I’d much rather buy the new remastered version of Quadrophenia than the latest by Nine Inch Nails, The Bloody Chiclets, Dr. Dre or Ghostface Killah. I’d much rather listen to Pete Townshend’s anguished searches for spirituality than bad spoken-word poetry performed to an annoying electronic drumbeat. I don’t care if most of my favorite bands haven’t made a decent album since 1982, they are still my favorites. Rush rules! The Kinks clobber Coolio! In my day, music was created with instruments played by hand, not spit out by some computer program through a MIDI interface.
Yeah, I’m getting old. Big deal. So is everyone else. Even you. But right now, I’ve got Empty Glass in the car, the volume up way too high, and I’m cruising to Mark’s Workwear World to buy some blue jeans and another denim shirt.

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