Sunday, June 06, 2010
There was a "Toys 'R Us" jingle I used to hear incessantly when I was a kid that you might recognize...I don't want to grow up, I'm a "Toys 'R Us" kid.. and it seems to have been rather prescient, or it could just be a reflection of the generation that spawned it. No one seems interested in growing up anymore. Okay, maybe it's an exaggeration to say no one, but would it be over-the-top to say hardly anyone? A few days ago I put up a post featuring some rather child-like adult footwear. Now, I'm not judging if someone wants to wear shoes with Batman painted on them-- to each his own. But it did get me thinking about the lengths we'll go to in order to hang on to a little piece of our youth. When I was a kid, people grew old in a way we don't really see anymore. My grandparents were your stereotypical gray-haired, wrinkled old fogeys by the time they were sixty. No hair-dye or Botox for them. Nowadays sixty seems to be all about gathering steam for retirement and christening that new-found freedom with a tattoo-- anyone with a gym membership knows this is true. But I wonder if there is a particular brand of immaturity that is more accepted than others? I like fantasy and science fiction-- therefore I am a geek. At least that's the most common endearment I run into. I'm not a hard-core type. I have a blog where I do reviews and talk about things science-fictiony but I don't carry it too far into my personal life other than my taste in movies and books. But what if I did? I'm a generation removed from the baby-boom-- my dad's a boomer in fact. I remember magazines that sat on our coffee table that spoke of the boomers with captions like "The Me Generation" and whether you agree that the boomers are self-absorbed or not, you have to concede that they have been the first generation to embrace every youth-in-bottle fad there is. I won't go so far to say that they're the biggest consumers of plastic surgery--but that's only because I don't have the statistics right in front of me. But fads don't start and end with the boomers. I'm a suburban housewife and that has its stereotypes and cliques. Suburbia has a lot of malls, hair salons and gyms. It's a unique fishbowl in which to observe and interact with people. We all have our keeping-up-with-the-Joneses moments but I find that no one is that interested in keeping up with me. Don't get me wrong, we live in a great place. It's the picturesque kind of place with a park down the street lots of parent volunteers at the school-- but they don't really get what I do. They think it sounds good in theory, but I don't read those kind of books is the most common refrain I hear. I'm kind of shy about revealing my hobby anymore. It has made me wonder if my hobbies are a bit childish. But then I got to thinking about it. I go to the gym almost everyday and it's a great place to people-watch. I live in California, so our gyms may be different than what you see in the Midwest-- I have no idea. You get a lot of people like myself-- those of us just trying to minimize the middle-age spread. But then you also get faux--hawk wearing, tattooed, tanned hard-bodies that wouldn't be caught dead in anything but designer clothing. Is it weird that so many men wear designer jeans? And it occurred to me while watching my fellow gym-goers that we all have our own kind of immaturity. My way of clinging to my childhood trends toward cartoons and an embarrassing anticipation for the new "A-Team" movie. Is that so wrong? It seems like a certain type of quirkiness is more socially acceptable than others. Hollywood has made it seem normal to turn your skin into a strange shade of orange and surgically enhance (or diminish) certain parts of the anatomy--and don't get me started on the behavior coming out of that town these days. Does anyone see the merits of behaving like an adult anymore? Since I live in California it isn't unusual to see my fellow suburbanites emulating some of the traits I've mentioned here, though nothing so extreme as you might see on some reality show. And the more I observe the gray-haired grandma's at the gym with their butterfly tattoos, I wonder why people think I'm strange. I guess it's a matter of what we see reflected back at us in popular culture. The coolest geeks on television right now are probably on "Chuck" and "The Big Bang Theory" and they all share a certain social awkwardness that doesn't meet the standard definition of "cool." It's scary what passes for cool these days isn't it? My neighbors might think my interests are a tad odd, but you know what? I think their interests are a bit strange too. I mean no disrespect to anyone who finds their version of the fountain of youth through tattoos, faux-hawks, surgery and designer jeans, but I think I'll stick to my brand of childishness even should it slide into the excess of learning Klingon or quoting "Star Wars." It's a little less permanent than some of the other options too.