By Sean Pearson
I woke up Monday morning with significantly more gray hairs than I went to bed with the night before.
(No, I don’t actually count them all. Perhaps I didn’t stress the word “significant” enough.) I’ve heard some people say hair can’t actually turn gray that quickly, despite theories about stress levels and worry.
I say they haven’t had three teenage girls.
As I continue to watch life slip by moment-by-moment; each hair fading to a silvery light gray before completely giving up the ghost, I am reminded of the days of my youth.
Technically, we haven’t actually relived all these precious moments of my youth. Have you even been paying attention? Obviously we’ll have to review.
Don’t worry, I’ll just hit the highlights: Me, high school, short, scrawny, band, acne, bad hair; (1980s + Bon Jovi + Rick Springfield. You do the math.)
My dream was to be a wildly talented, intriguingly enigmatic, darkly handsome starting quarterback on the varsity football team. My reality was to be a skinny benchwarmer whose biggest game ever actually involved my tripping and falling in front of a defender. Apparently my “daring dive block” allowed our fullback to streak into the end zone for a winning touchdown.
At least, it went something like that.
Ahh, the glory days.
(Bruce Springsteen, Born in the U.S.A. 1984)
If nothing else, football gave me a way to have some sort of conversation with my father. When my dad and I were at completely opposite ends of the emotional, intellectual and spiritual spectrum, we could still talk about football. When my “personal life-philosophy” screamed for heavy doses of mall-time, REO Speedwagon and JOLT Cola, my dad seemed to be buried deeply within the time capsule of Pennington’s Drive-In, “Paint Your Wagon” and white milk.
(Note to those actually paying attention: See? Diet Coke really is an improvement over what I used to drink. Give me another 45 years, and I might make my way up to tofu.)
In an unrelated sidebar, I must express my disdain and general frustration with this disconnected feeling I have with others of my “generation.” In fact, I’m not really even sure which generation I’m a part of, since I missed the baby boomers by a few years. (And let’s face it, the baby boomers are the only generation anyone ever really pays attention to.) I heard a rumor once that I was part of “Generation X,” but I had trouble with the quantum theory algorithms used to decide where one generation ends and another starts. Isn’t there a website out there somewhere with a flow chart for all of this? Can I hire a generational consultant? Is it possible to be on a generation cusp? If it can happen in astrology, surely there’s room for some kind of argument for those of us on the edge. Is that what they mean when they talk about the “generation gap?” Is it possible I’ve fallen through the proverbial cracks of the time and space continuum?
When my friends and I left the sanctity and safety of junior high and headed up to the halls of higher education in high school, we soon discovered that the key to “coolness” was through music. (And no, I don’t mean band.)
Ah yes, music. I was sure I had it made. After all, my mother was an accomplished pianist before she headed off to kindergarten. My father performed with a barbershop quartet. My older sister played the flute, piano, guitar and sang in the school and church choirs. Could the apple of musical giftedness really fall that far from the tree?
Apparently, the apple can pretty much go wherever it wants.
Funny thing about apples. There really is no accounting for their different tastes. Apparently, it’s the same for music.
Somehow, those hours and hours of listening time I put into my parents’ Serendipity Singers albums and 8-tracks of John Denver didn’t help to put me on the fast track for popularity in high school. I mean, come on. How cool is it to grow up in the ‘70s and have no idea who Led Zeppelin, Heart or even Creedence Clearwater Revival were? I still thank God daily for helping me talk my mom out of making me take the Osmond lunchbox to school my freshman year.
There are some things that are worth putting up with endless wedgies, getting chosen last for dodge ball in P.E. and having to climb that stupid rope that hung from the gym ceiling.
The Osmonds weren’t one of them.
If I was going to get beat up, it would at least be because I was defending a small animal from the clutches of some evil group of kitten kidnappers or something.
Sorry Donny, you’re on your own.
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