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Not Cool Anymore



When I was twelve years old, I could look at another kid and tell their age on sight. Once I became an adult, I lost that ability. After having children, I could look at an infant and tell its age within a month or two, as my kids got older; I lost that ability as well. The other day I met a man and I could tell by his deep-set eyes and pale complexion, he was a drinker. It’s that with age comes wisdom thing, it’s the corollary to youth is wasted on the young. But youth really isn’t wasted on the young; youth is a time of optimistic learning.

A twelve-year old with the wisdom of fifty years wouldn’t be wise, they’d be depressed! They would be in need of serious medication and or psychiatric counseling. Life is the ultimate mystery; to understand the mystery, you have to start from the beginning. You take the lessons of grammar school into high school, learning lessons about life and love learned the hard way. Like diving into cold water or a punch in the nose, the lesson is necessarily harsh and severe. Otherwise, you might not learn to watch your mouth or stick your toe in first, years later, the memory never grows dim or doubtful.

Each lesson in its time, until one day, we find ourselves, ready or not …an adult. A truly golden time of life, like our first trip to an amusement park, never again as fulfilling as that first time. Then the day comes when they no longer card you buying a six-pack. You stand in the checkout line and the date on the “You must be born before” sign is after you graduated from high school. Wow! What happened? I was this young guy with a peach fuzz moustache and then all of a sudden, my favorite music is on the oldies station. I found myself locked into an era, unable to escape. I had an epiphany when I went to see a “Yes” reunion tour, the music was still good, but these guys weren’t cool rock stars, they were balding geezers. We were all balding geezers, discovering the swings on the playground weren’t as exciting as they used to be.

It’s not as dark and depressing as it might sound, my fifties, despite hardship and economic disaster, have been amazingly fulfilling. I know more about myself, I’m calmer and less excitable, better able to understand the mystery of this existence and to appreciate both its profit and loss. Recently, my son’s childhood best friend became a father, that’s an interesting experience, allowing you to see life in its fullness.

Skrillex anyone? I didn’t think so. For the uninitiated, Skrillex is electronic dance music; imagine a train wreck put to techno. That’s not really a criticism, but the opinion of a man far outside of his own era, hearing something meant only for younger ears to understand. Ditto: Lady Gaga (hurry 15 minutes) but someday…someday, the youth of today will step on to an elevator and hear an instrumental version of “Born this Way” done as only Musaic can do. I’m anxiously waiting for Musaic to tackle Rap music. Mick Jagger is seventy and still singing “I can’t get no satisfaction, of course he can’t, but he’ll settle for a good nights sleep.

Life changes for better and for worse, we can fight it or flow with it, it doesn’t care, it changes just the same. GPS for those eyes not so sharp at reading street signs is pretty cool. Yet, I see young people in social settings texting, into their smart phones. Archie and Jug head texting each other about the cute girls, while Betty and Veronica text each other about the two weird guys in the malt shop. Again, I’m outside my era. I’m an alien watching the youthful goings on with curious mystification, not unlike my father’s face the first time he heard the Jimi Hendricks version of the National Anthem. Unless it’s your own pants falling down, don’t worry about it. It isn’t a sign if societal disaster, it’s a craze, my cousin Danny told his mother a D A haircut, stood for district attorney. My buddy told his mother a water pipe was for filling a water-bed. They didn’t know then, just as I don’t know now.

As the leaves fall, I know the snow will soon follow. If I were ten again, that would be so great, otherwise, not so much. It’s all about perspective, I wouldn’t want to be twelve or twenty again or even thirty. I’ve done that, I love my children, but I wouldn’t want to do it again either. I like the age I’m at, I like being able to relate to the opposite sex without a testosterone fueled frenzy. Did you know, women have opinions and are interesting, even with their clothes on? It’s true! But that’s just my point, there’s only one road in and one road out and there aren’t any short cuts.

Even though the new movies aren’t as good as the old ones, and all the new cars all look like the Batmobile to me, life is good. I’ve got my health, nothing else matters! What good are millions only to pay for the best hospital care? Protect your health and protect your time, never put off till tomorrow, what you should have done yesterday. The way I see it, I have two thousand years of great literature to catch up on. I want to buy an ultra-light and a sailboat, I want to sail around the world. I want to write a really good book. That to me is the greatest thing about being in my fifties; I don’t have to try to be cool anymore! If I wanted, I could learn to speak Latvian and dance Polkas, not that I would, but I could, if I wanted!

I’m completely free, the youthful worrisome thoughts of what will people think, or what if I fall are long gone. These apprehensive apparitions are self-generated and self-defeating; the only true failure is not to try. To stand on the sidelines and watch the life’s parade go by as a spectator, listening to someone else’s music, instead of making our own. I’m not cool anymore and it’s really cool.

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David Cox

David Cox