…and how it’s going now. Yep, we are talking about aging. That’s us, two ladies sandwiched between spry and feeble, oldER than we think, sometimes feeling older than we are. You know…the creaky backs, the squitchy knees (yes, SQUITCHY…it’s a Kris word), expelling a grunt as you get out of that chair…not to mention expelling other, ah, well, just other things. Forget about gracefully getting up off the floor. Do you know how hard this is as a Gen-Xer? We are the generation of latch-key kids, rebels, punk rockers, rappers, glam rockers and new wavers. For some of us, our music heroes wore eyeliner and platform shoes and really rocked (literally) the gender-bender boundaries. We had parents who married during the emergence of civil and equal rights. For many of us our moms were some of the first working mothers and some of our dads were kind of confused about the state of the union both government and marital. We were born in the aftermath of Vietnam, sex/drugs/rock’n’roll, and parenting styles were shifting from kids-should-be-seen-and-not-heard to tough love. We came of age when punks used blood as an accessory, rock glittered, and rap told the bitter truth of the streets.
We are Toys’R’Us kids who never wanted to grow up. We wanted our MTV…stayed on the phone for hours while we danced to our favorite bands and learned all the latest music and world news from VJs Martha, Alan, JJ, Nina, Mark, and Kurt. We slammed the door on disco, bell bottom jeans and rainbow suspenders as video “killed” radio. We morphed into dayglow baggy clothes/big hair, or ripped jeans/leather jackets/big hair…or jazz shoes/fedoras/big hair, or safety pins/pegged pants/docs/big hair (albeit liberty spikes). We carried our music with us in boom boxes and Sony Walkmans. We made excellent use of cardboard scraps during street dance-offs. We smoked cigarettes in the smoker’s quad at school with no fences or armed security keeping us from going to lunch at the burger joint across the street. When we played (or hung out) we went where we wanted with zero supervision and stayed out til the street lights came on (and beyond). The best place in town to hang out was at the mall…the spot to see and be seen. Bikes were ridden all over town without helmets. Beds of pickup trucks were crammed with teenagers driving to the roller skating rink, and we bounced around like monkeys in our parent’s cars without seatbelts. We grew up at the tail end of the cold war, saw the Berlin Wall come down and watched in horror as the space shuttle exploded mid-air. For those of us who miraculously survived all this, the prevalence of designer drugs became an escape for a few.
Gen-Xers were told we’d do better then our parents and grandparents and a lot of us are still wondering what the hell happened. We jumped, ran, danced and felt the burn as we tried to get healthy in spandex leggings with leg warmers and high-cut leotards, or muscle shirts and MC Hammer pants. As we went off to work or college we tried to leave the excesses (and mullets) of the 80s to change the future with the new cultural and social revolutions of the 90s. We watched In Living Color, Friends, and Seinfeld one episode at a time once a week and if we were lucky, we recorded the shows on VHS tapes so we could rewatch them whenever we wanted. Gen-Xers embraced revolutionary technology and adapted lightning fast as everything became better, faster, smaller, and portable. We ushered in cable tv, compact discs, video games, desktop computers, cellphones and mainstream internet. By the time the early 2000s came around we were trying to capture that American dream…and saw everything change on 9/11, some wondering if this was the world we wanted to bring children into. Still reeling from that, lots of us felt the pain of the the housing bubble bursting as we watched American dreams fall away. For those who survived the designer drugs, rehab was the place to clean up. We highlighted our favorite music and sorted our best friends on MySpace. Right about now, lots of us realized things just weren’t turning out the way we envisioned as little kids back in the 70s and 80s. At least we normalized tattoos and unnatural hair color. And we have Stranger Things to remind us what it used to be like when the upside down isn’t wreaking havoc.
So now…here we are, hovering around the half-century mark, a little wrinklier, definitely creakier, and having to pee a lot more than should be legal. We’re starting to forget things more and more, and repeat our funny stories and jokes just a little too much. It hurts in so many places to walk, sometimes we walk a little crooked, and might have to ask “WAAAT??” a couple times to move forward in the conversation (years of head-banging can do that to you). We are learning to master the art of placing our cellphones in just the right spot (arm distance + head tilt = acceptable bifocal range) so we can read our friends latest Instagram post. And MAN! Do we appreciate the fact there was no internet when we were sowing our wild oats. We’re still trying to decide if we are ok with the trade-off of complete lack of privacy for conversing with our friends, families and trolls all over the world via Facebook and Twitter. Some of us understand Snapchat. Most of us don’t know what a Vine used to be. But even through all this, we still know we’re cool and demand some respect for that toughness – we can rock a trending TikTok dance with attitude. We’re stuck between Boomers and Millennials arguing and all we want to do is shout to all of them, “F**k off! Shut up already! Quit whining and deal with it, whatever “it” is, FFS!” We just don’t brook idiots. We suit up, show up, and get the job done. And you know what? It’s pretty cool when the music our doctor listens to in his office is classic punk. So what if the music of our childhood is played on the oldies and moldies stations.
But most importantly, young Xennials, Millennials, and Gen-Zs…now come closer children, as this is very important: as stupid and irrelevant as you think we are now, that’s exactly as stupid and irrelevant YOU ALL will be when the next batch of kids start coming of age and forming opinions. And yes, you will grow chin hairs, ear hair, pee when you laugh, crap your pants, and sound like a damp sponge as you walk upstairs…and those fries and burgers and milkshakes you eat with impunity will no longer serve you my little dears. Also, we’re going to spoil your children and then give them back to you at the end of the day laughing heartily knowing vengeance has come at last. When you’re ready, we’ll tell you about the importance of prunes.
Links to our topics
- For the list of events that shaped Gen-Xers lives, see 10 Things Generation X Won’t Tell You by Quentin Fotrelli at marketwatch.com
- For some cold hard truths about aging, read Carol Wyer’s pearls of wisdom in What No One Tells You About Getting Older Until It’s Too Late at sixtyandme.com (point of order: WE ARE NOT YET SIXTY SO BACK OFF BRUV).
- And it wouldn’t be a TMT podcast without a list of days to celebrate! For August, check out Fun, Wacky, Offbeat Theme Days and Holidays for August, Humor at Work at mikekerr.com
Our Questions Answered
- For our favorite original VJs in the world, check out biography.com‘s The Original MTV 5:Where Are They Now? article to celebrate all the goodness that was Alan Hunter, Martha Quinn, J.J. Jackson, Nina Blackwood and Mark Goodman.
- No, Richard Blade was never an MTV VJ although he was a consultant for MTV and VH1 at various points in his career, and had his own show called Video One. In our hearts and minds, he was, and always will be, one of the foremost kickass radio DJs at KROQ in Los Angeles (which now literally sucks a$$. Kevin and Bean forever!!!!).
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Intro and outro music, “Clever as a Fox” by Espresso, Inc. through premiumbeats.com.
Featured photo “Yoga” by Marcus Aurelius on Pexels.com.