I'm feeling old lately. Not the kind of old Bill Cosby used to schlep about in his stand-up routine, lamenting the inevitable forgetfulness that comes with age, like the panic you feel when you've forgotten who you're calling before the intended party has answered the phone. It's more an ever-growing sense that there is a chasm that's widening between myself and the past. It first hit me while listening to the Stones' You Can't Always Get What You Want in the car. I was pondering how the song is a reflection on the end of the 1960's freewheeling drug culture in London, a culture that by 1969 had long outlived its welcome. It's the 1969 part that nags at me. Using my astonishing mathematical prowess, I realized the song is over 40 years old. I remember when I was a kid, my mom used to sing the Andrews Sisters' "Rum and Coca Cola" when she was in the kitchen. Back then, that song was barely 40 years old.
There's something unsettling about that to me. When I think of songs that are 4 decades old, I like to imagine the list would be strictly relegated to the likes of Glenn Miller, Perry Como, or Johnny Mercer, but definitely not Rolling Stones' guitar licks.
Recently, some hip-hop artist sampled Warren Zevon's Werewolves of London, and I was dismayed to discover that hordes of people not even a decade younger than I am mistakenly sing "Where are the Wild Things?" when the chorus rolls around. I even had some kid argue with me over it. I dropped it, realizing that debating the finite points of music with a strung out stoner was an intellectually reductive process. He probably would have steadfastly insisted that the Statue of Liberty is actually holding an ice cream cone, and that William F Buckley Jr is a guitarist who is still very much alive.
I know 39 isn't old, but it seems life is intent on convincing me each day that there's a Scoot-About with my name on it waiting for me just around the corner. As most of my avid readers know, my wife is 14 years younger than I am - she was trick or treating when I first met her (just kidding). Often times I'll show her some movie from the early 80's that I enjoyed as a child, during which she'll methodically point out half a dozen sub-plots that were never adequately explored or were completely abandoned by the end of the movie. I try to explain that what's pivotal to the movie is that by the end the hero has killed all the drug dealers and Communists and mobsters before shooting the dirty chief of police. Apparently how the hero deduced that the chief of police was double crossing him all along is not sufficiently explained by simply declaring "I knew it was you all along" before throwing him out of a window and walking away to the beat of a Duran Duran song that fades as the credits roll. Hey, works for me, buzz kill.
I think it all came crashing down on me while we were watching an episode of Family Guy, during which a cartoon Rob Schneider does an imitation of his "Copy Guy" character from Saturday Night Live, prompting a perplexed young lady - oblivious to the cultural reference - to declare "Umm, I was born in 1987." While Claire understood that Family Guy often uses obscure or dated cultural references, she also had no idea who Copy Guy was. I enthusiastically Youtubed it to show her just how incredibly rib splitting this recurring character was, only to realize the skit was rather dull and annoying.
The lovely Mrs Claire loves that I'm older than her. It tickles her for some reason, and I am certainly a lucky man to have an intelligent and beautiful young wife. I don't know why the looming thought of 40 troubles me so much. The zero reminds of the O in LOST that comes looming out of the screen at you in the beginning of every episode. I know I should round off this column with a nice tie-in to some reference I made at the beginning - but hey, I knew it was you all along.