I said it. Out loud. Without even thinking. And then once I said it, I couldn’t take it back. And instantly… I was old.
WHEN I WAS YOUR AGE WE DIDN’T HAVE… Boom. There it was. Eight little words that said together suddenly made me the star of my own episode of Little House on The Prairie – lecturing some young kids about having to walk to school with bare feet through the snow for eight hours. I’m sure people with kids find themselves saying this all the time but I don’t have kids – I hang out with kids – and I thought we were all on the same page until I outed myself the other night as “the old one.” I love being with twenty somethings – smart twenty somethings – as often as possible. They – unlike people my age – are alive – and unfiltered – and curious – and I believe keep people my age – alive and unfiltered and curious. (Though lets be realistic – I didn’t come with a filter to begin with. They are not – as believed to be – factory installed.) I pride myself on staying current about certain things – not because I’m trying to cheat my age or hide it – but more because I like to learn about things I didn’t know about and I eat new information about people and places and style and technology voraciously. I don’t try to stay “in the know” because I want to be a cool kid – I just don’t want to wake up on the couch one day buried underneath a pile of manuals and remotes and not be able to use half the things in my house because I’m too old. Sure it took the Geek Squad three trips to my place to show me how to use my new tv but I got it now fuckers so everyone calm the fuck down. Except for Pandora. That system is perplexing.
But there I was, on my roof deck, with three twenty something year old men – eat your hearts out ladies – when we started talking about cell phones – and I said it. “When I was your age we didn’t have cell phones.” They looked at me like I said – “when I was your age we used to shit on the street.” But it was true. I remember my first cell phone – it was the size of a shoe – and heavier than one – and I thought I was the coolest kid the world. It was a grey Motorola flip phone and it was fatter than a gyro. It was probably emanating more cancer than an x ray machine but I loved it. I think I was already thirty years old when I got it. I went on to have quite a few since then – settling now on an Iphone – which most women my age – can’t use and when I hear myself saying – “wait – how do I take a picture?” – I’m throwing this thing out. Once the guys got past how hideously ancient I am – we started talking about what it will be that they say when they’re my age to someone in their twenties that will start with the words – When I was your age we didn’t have. Flying cars? Transporting? We couldn’t settle on what it was but I realize that it will be technological – and it will probably make us more alone – and it will probably be a completely virtual world since we’re wrecking the one we currently live in. So for now – I’m going to enjoy my nights with young people – gathered in the current world – where I tell them about the good old days of mimeographing and pay phones. I know I said those eight words but I don’t think they’ll kick me out of their club – yet. As long as I don’t say – “can you turn down the music” – I think I’m safe – for now.