There comes a moment in everyone's life where you cease to be cool. Wait, I think I need to qualify that-- obviously there are some people who were never cool to start off with, and there are some (like James Dean) who die young and are immortalized as cool. Then there's the once in a lifetime types (like Clint Eastwood) who manage to hang on with a death grip to their coolness, even in old age. But for the rest of us, there is this invisible barrier, this tiny thread we cross over one day, somewhere around middle age, where "cool" is no longer an option.
I remember being in high school, pondering an elderly woman. She was stuck, in her fashion, somewhere between the 60's and the 80's, with polyester pants, the standard old woman helmeted & permed haircut, and those cushy nurse-looking "comfort shoes". As I took her in, I wondered, At what point do you just stop? When does fashion & pop culture and relevancy sort of float out the window, and you just don't care?
Of course, in high school things like fashion, pop-culture, and relevancy matter very, very much. Everyone knows that Beyonce makes the world go round, and that skinny jeans & Tom's define your worth & identity. But when is that magic day when you realize that you just don't care anymore-- when you get old?
My theory is that most people pick a date and stick with it. For most, that date coincides with the year printed on their high school diploma. Or maybe college. There's this moment where keeping up becomes all too tedious, and those flannels & jeans in the back of your closet just seem so comfy-- and, well, they were cool once, right?
Chris & I recently had a revelation that pointed to the fact that, if we hadn't crossed that line yet, it was coming soon. Although I have never really been "into" music-- I don't have an ipod, and have probably owned less than 50 CD's in my lifetime-- he was pretty up on the music scene ever since 5th grade. But the frightening revelation was that, in the past 10 or so years, most of our new music wasn't actually "new", but just recent albums from the same old bands we'd been listening to since our teen years. Then I noticed that our car radio was either set to the news, classic rock, or the "new" 90's rock "flashback" station that Chris recently discovered. Uh-oh. Que the funeral music.
I've also noticed that lately, my cute, punk-rock hubby has taken to wearing running shoes with his 501's & baggy flannel-- and has been accused by several of our students of being "90's grunge". Oh man, it's begun.
One of the really great things about crossing over that line, though, is the simple fact that you really don't care. As a teenager, the idea of not worrying what other people thought of you was almost inconceivable, and with that reality came a constant self-consciousness, a slight discomfort in your own skin.
A student was teasing me the other day about trying to pass me off as 19yrs old, to fit into the dorms. But as I thought about it, I realized that I would much rather be 31, having no idea what was playing on the radio, yet at home with myself. I think I like Me better at 31 than I did at 19. Besides, there are few things more tragic than someone who's past their prime, trying to keep up with the young whipper snappers. ;)