the suzi parker files

Politics, Pop Culture and Ponderings

Posts Tagged ‘Aging

Chin Up, Gen X’ers: Obama’s Right There With You

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When I offered unsolicited advice, guys, I didn’t mean to crush your Generation X dreams and hearts like a cigarette butt. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to grow up. I’m 14 years old at heart and still think I’m going to live happily ever after with Simon Le Bon. (Although I did get into a wicked argument with him circa 1998 after a Duran Duran concert, and he broke my heart into tiny pieces when he acted so rudely. But that’s another story.)

Punk Peter Pans, stay young. Keep playing video games. It’s OK to still long for Asteroids. Get giddy about the new Tron movie. Please believe me, though, when I said that some of you – and you know who you are – may not look so great in that Replacements T-shirt in 2010. Heck, most people don’t even remember that band. So trash it, keep The Clash one. Wear it with pride but only if it still fits.

You aren’t having a mid-life crisis. Repeat, you aren’t having a mid-life crisis. I retract that from my previous post. Instead, consider yourself simply afflicted with a smidgen of arrested development. You can still pretend to be a guitar hero on Saturday night. Just find a girl who appreciates this charming quality.

All I ask is that you quit the slacker whining you learned from bad 1980s and ’90s movies. Stop thinking about the old girlfriend who never loved you the way you should have been loved when you played that boom box outside her window. Stop summoning your inner John Cusack.

Focus on all the possibilities out there. In your same age range, if possible. You’ve previously starred in the 20-something soap opera. Are you sure you want to make a return guest appearance trying to play an aging version of Jake Ryan from “Sixteen Candles”? Yes, you can listen to “My Sharona” while you pursue

Gen X’ers should be ecstatic. We aren’t home alone anymore. We finally have a president in the White House who came of age wanting his MTV.

Some argue that President Barack Obama is not a Gen X’er, but rather was born on the tail end of the Baby Boomers. No way. He was born in 1961, which some scholars pinpoint as the start of this generation and the end of the Baby Boomers. Obama’s mother was a Baby Boomer, which clearly makes him a member of the next generation.

Obama aligns perfectly with us. He loves his Blackberry and iPod. He likes pop culture – after all, he appeared on “The View,” didn’t he? A few years ago, he even had his picture taken in front of the Superman statue in Metropolis, Ill. He likes casual Fridays. That’s totally awesome. No doubt, he dreams of a Ferris Bueller kind of day in Chicago.

But true to generational form, he isn’t exactly having the best of luck in his job. He’s not alone. An ailment of Generation X? Bad luck. In love. In finances. In life.

It may be this generation is fated for misfortune. We are also known as the spooky 13th Generation –the 13th generation familiar with the American flag. According to statistics, we could care less about the country’s leaders. Ironically, Generation X is the most educated of all other living generations, according to a the 2009 Census Bureau survey. The winner here? Student loan collectors. Just ask Obama. He owed on his until he landed a book deal a few years ago.

In 1990, William Strauss and Neil Howe wrote “Generations,” a book that “describes a cyclical theory of history based on repeating generational archetypes.” The book points out that Generation X is a “reactive” generation. The authors even hint that some connection exists between Generation X births and the devil-child movies of the 1960 and 1970s. Are we all “Rosemary’s Baby“?

The “reactive generation” label is not good news for Gen X until we’re too old to care. The authors wrote: “A Nomad (or Reactive) generation is born during an Awakening, spends its rising adult years during an Unraveling, spends midlife during a Crisis, and spends old age in a new High.” The crisis, according to the authors, that we’re facing: The War on Terror. Obama is dealing with that in spades. Bummer.

Gen X guys, there’s hope. We’ll have a rockin’ retirement home rendezvous. See you when REM plays the rest home tour.


Written by suziparker1313

March 6, 2011 at 10:31 pm

Advice to Lonely Gen X Men: Lose the ‘What ifs’ and Past Loves

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It’s an epidemic lately: the wistful what-if.

My Generation X guy pals are consumed by this ailment. “What if I had asked so-and-so to marry me 10 years ago?”
“What if I had agreed to the baby . . . would she have stayed?”
“What if I had moved to Seattle and not stayed close to family?”

Oh, the laments. They play like a Nirvana song among the never-married or divorced former slacker boys.

When I read Andrew Cohen’s Politics Daily piece about the love of his life marrying someone else, the same symptoms popped up. I immediately wanted to invite him out for a beer and listen as he talked about the girl he would one day meet, the one who wants to live on a farm with wireless connections.

Many of my friends have unwillingly assumed the eternal bachelor role. Young marriages they believed would last forever ended badly with baggage. In some instances, marriage was placed on the back burner to travel with a garage band that never hit the charts or a law career that surpassed their wildest judicial dreams. Either way, they are saddled with singleness and have no one to share coffee with on Sunday mornings.

Not that it’s a picnic for women, but aging is rough on men. Men tend to lose their hair quicker and more frequently than women – a constant reminder every time they look in the mirror. Unlike women, most men are too vain to lather their face in wrinkle-reducing moisturizer. Women are lucky. We can hide our imperfections with makeup. Men, well, not so much. With cougars looking ten years younger and seeking younger men, 40-something men are left with only 20-something dreams to keep them warm.

One oft-pursued solution: Seek out the young things, like their female cougar counterparts do. I have two single male friends – a never-married and a divorced – who vie continuously for the attentions of an artsy 20-something woman around town. When I told one of them that he was old enough to be her father, he looked at me as if I’d uttered a dead language. I could see him calculating the math in his head. The result, while accurate, was a mood killer.

The Generation X men I know instantly fall in love with the college student who smiles at them at a coffee shop or the tattooed punk rocker they watched playing her guitar in a bar. They friend them on Facebook and cyberstalk them until the wee hours of the morning. These days, middle-aged crushes come as fast as one-night stands did 20 years ago.

A mid-life crisis is nothing new. But for Generation X, it will be extremely painful. Men in their 40s didn’t know what they wanted in their 20s. Be a slacker like Ethan Hawke in “Reality Bites,” or have a beautiful house with a beautiful wife? Now, lost in their 40s, it’s the same as it ever was. And Baby Boomers’ material possessions – the Corvette and a trophy wife – won’t cure it.

Gen X men, here’s some free advice. Abandon “what if” and the past loves. “What if” is for young, lonely, tortured poets in slim jeans and ripped rock T-shirts. It looks good on them, not on you. Trust me. Write a letter or poem if you must, but put it in a box and set it afire in the bathtub. For heavens sake, don’t let anyone else see it.

Stop living in the post-college years. Abandon REM’s greatest hits — at least for a little while. Update the wardrobe. What looked cool on you 20 years ago (yes, I said 20 years ago) doesn’t have the same edge today. You may catch the eye of the young, indie chicklette, but she may not be what you really want for the long haul.

Here’s a toast to Andrew. Unlike many men, he knows what he wants. Now step away from the keyboard and go find her.

Written by suziparker1313

March 6, 2011 at 10:27 pm