There are times when I feel like I’m seen as an adult who is trying not to be. Case in point: a few days ago I pick up this couple from the airport, older than me (I’m forty-six and they look about twenty years older than me). They get in and the dude asks if I can go a different way to their house. I say sure because it takes the same amount of time either way. But it made me feel like that they saw me as a ‘kid’, or maybe just some lady not quite smart enough to do her job. So to age-up a little, I changed the radio station in the car from the ‘1st Wave’ channel (playing 80’s New Wave and Alternative) to the ‘Yacht Rock’ channel on Sirius XM. (Yacht Rock for the uninitiated here is music from the 1970’s and 1980’s previously termed ‘soft rock’- nice, non-threatening music about chilling out and being in and out of love).
But this ride got me thinking about how every so often I don’t feel like an adult. There’s a meme that went around saying that you look around for the adult in the room, an older, wiser adult but there is no one that meets that description. It’s when you realize you’re the older adult in the room but you don’t feel wise or comfortable in your knowledge and experience. I think this is the case for my generation, Generation X because we were also called ‘The Slacker Generation’. A generation of lazy, beer-swilling, flannel-wearing morons more interested in listening to music, getting high, or just moping around.
Not all of us turned out to be like that as it was members of our generation that invented Google and helped bring Apple back from the brink. I will say there were a fair number of what were called ‘Young Republican’ types back then- Michael J. Fox’s character on ‘Family Ties’ is a good example (and the only reason that character never made me want to shoot out the tv was he was played by Michael J. Fox, who is a really cool dude). The Young Republican types morphed into the Tea Party-Family Values crew of assholes all blow-dried and spray-tanned with a side-piece or two and abortion pills at the ready. They’re the assholes that did the run-up to the Iraq war, marshalled conservative assholes to de-throne The Chicks (formerly known as The Dixie Chicks) from the top of the country-music charts because how dare those women exercise their rights to free speech. They’re also the ones who brought the white supremacists out and tried to rebrand those motherfuckers as the ‘alt-right’. Luckily, they’re going down with the ship and I’m not feeling one bit sorry for those spineless bullies.
Back to the rest of us Gen X’ers who don’t always feel like the adult in the room even when we are. First thing: the kids love our music, movies, tv shows, and don’t pat us on the head too often. Some of them even think that we’re cool.
But I will say Generation X may be the most cynical generation ever. Why? Well, we came of age in the 1970’s so the oldest of us went from Nixon to Jimmy Carter to Ronald Regan. The second group went from Regan to Bush, Senior to Clinton. But we also went through the Cold War, the Arms Race, and our elected leaders constantly talking about having their fingers on the big red button to blow us all to hell because they thought it was a good idea to blow us to Kingdom Come rather than give the Russians any opportunity to take us over.
Okay, I will freely admit Communism sucked in a million ways, the worst probably being the lack of freedom of expression and the lack of rock ‘n’ roll music. But we knew the majority of people living under Communism were good people who took a lot of risks listening to Voice of America radio and trying to catch tv signals from Western Europe so they could watch ‘Star Trek’.
But I think despite living through all that and living through years of being resigned to being blown to hell or living in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, we weren’t seen as growing out of that. In fact, I’d say we were resigned to coming home alone, rooting around the kitchen for something to eat, and then sitting down to veg in front of the tv or stereo. We wanted to change the world and bring down the Wall (the Berlin Wall), but at the same time, we’re also the generation that’s quite fond of saying ‘same old shit’ over and over again.
In the end, I think that invisibility and resignation to the ‘same old shit’ mantra is why I sometimes feel like an adult imposter. I’m happy as hell that Biden and Harris won and people got to party in the streets. But I’m also resigned to a never-ending shit-show from the Young Republican side, a side so firmly entrenched in their bullshit I honestly don’t think even the strongest piece of heavy equipment could pry their heads out of their asses.
For me, I think I’m seen as an adult imposter because of my really-short hair with the shaved-up sides, my daily uniform of shorts and a t-shirt, and my love of music made before 1990. But I’m happy to be mostly left to my own devices because I know how to feed myself and how to find something to watch or listen to, just like a lot of us were back in the day.