A Generation X Guide to Staying at Home (if you’re lucky enough to do so)

The demographic known as Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980) has been referred to as a bunch of feral, lazy slackers. Feral because we came home alone and were called latchkey kids. Lazy because when we came home we ate and either vegged out in front of the tv, played video games, sat in our rooms listening to music and reading books, or were just alone with our thoughts. And you know what? We survived and also knew if you put your headphones on and cranked the music up loud enough, you didn’t have to hear your parents raging arguments.

Earlier in the year when the first lockdowns happened, well-intentioned morons talked about learning new hobbies or finally getting things done around the house. Hardcore Gen X’ers on the other hand were like, “Yeah, that’s not going to happen.” Or at least we knew it wouldn’t happen without people bitching and whining about being bored and having their precious freedom taken from them.

It’s not freedom that was taken from you, assholes. It was an attempt to save lives. And for those of us who would have LOVED to have been in lockdown, your whiny shit makes us want to beat the living crap out of you. I mean, if I had the financial means to do a complete lockdown and work from home, I’d have done it in a heartbeat.

How hard is it to amuse yourself? One thing everyone else has that us Gen X’er’s didn’t have back in our day was the Internet. And everyone else is a freaking idiot for not realizing the internet may be the greatest tool for amusing yourself ever invented. I think of the potential of the internet if I was in lockdown like this:

Unlimited music: If you don’t have the original recording you can just stream it to your heart’s content. All those old albums you had to sell in order to eat… they’re at your fingertips now.

Unlimited movies and tv shows: If you were lucky Gen X’er you had cable but even that meant you had to watch what was on or find something else to do. And sadly because programmers back then were morons, we watched a lot of the same stuff over and over. People have choices as to what to binge like we didn’t so if you bitch about too many choices… find something else to do.

Books and stuff to read: A lot of Gen X’er’s are hardcore readers. We love libraries and we miss book stores like we miss record stores and enclosed malls. So imagine an ability these days to read on Kindles or tablets. To us, that’s like Star Trek come to life and we’re totally down with that.

Now, Generation X weren’t totally stuck in the house. Occasionally we decided to see if the sun was still shining and if the sky wasn’t on fire (we lived with a lot of fear of nuclear war and sci-fi dystopia). And if it wasn’t a raging nuclear war outside, we walked around or rode our bikes, or sat outside with our boomboxes listening to the radio or cassettes, or played Frisbee in the street with someone always keeping watch out for cars. Trying doing that today without someone seriously thinking about calling the cops on you or something.

And if you were really lucky and you had a car, you went for a ride. You put on the music and cranked it up with your friends. You grabbed some fast-food and maybe hung out somewhere or took it back home.

So when a hardcore Generation X person hears another generation young or old bitching about a lockdown to save lives, we’re just shrugging our shoulders and muttering under our masks. Because a lot of us haven’t had that luxury of being able to work from home and lock down because of the grinding jobs we have that suck. We are experts on the grind and we know it sucks.

So here’s how to stay at home Generation X-Style (legwarmers not included):

1) Just fix yourself something to eat and not give a damn about what anyone else might think of your food choices. Generation X lived on stuff invented in a lab and we’re still not glowing in the dark or hollowed-out brain-eating zombies.

2) Find something to watch, read, listen to, or play and stick with it. If you don’t want to start something new, then don’t. You won’t turn your brain to mush by watching, listening to, reading, or playing something over and over. Instead, you’ll have an amazing ability to quote huge chunks of dialogue and song lyrics.

3) We’ve seen all the post-apocalyptic disaster movies so we know how this will end if you don’t start wearing your masks, washing your hands, and staying the fuck at home when you can. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t end well even if you survive like Sarah Connor or Mad Max.

Finally, do NOT play Global Thermonuclear War with an AI computer: you won’t win. And also remember Google was invented by two Gen X’er’s.

Adult Imposter Here

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.