A little girl on television recently told a reporter, “Any year with 19 in it is ancient to me.” That girl is lucky I wasn’t the reporter. Otherwise the cameraman would have had to pry me off her — even if she is right.
I’ve been watching season one of St Elsewhere, the 1980s hospital drama (and ugly stepsister to Hill Street Blues), on DVD. I remember the episodes vividly, even the character actors. What I don’t remember is patients smoking in bed. “Am I really that old?” I wondered aloud, craving a smoke.
At a meeting for a project I’m working on, someone brought up Homorazzi. Being the oldest person in the group by 10 to 15 years, I confessed I wasn’t sure what the site is about. “What do you go there for?” They looked at each other as though I had dissed Lady Gaga for overexposure. I could feel the dotted square forming above my head.
Later someone brought up Apocalypstick. I asked what that was. “Oh, it’s a new show on Sunday nights,” he said. “It’s drag but… modern.” He looked at me like I had a mullet and acid-washed jeans. Does he even know what those are?
“I’m friends with Vera Way,” I wanted to say. “ She’s in my Chosen Family Portrait!” Dropping a drag queen’s name for street cred. When did it come to this?
The sad part is, I knew exactly what he was talking about. I knew the type of drag show he was describing: lots of sequins, bad lip-synching and something by Céline Dion. And even though I’ve moaned my way through my fair share of those drag shows, I found myself wanting to defend them. But you can’t or you sound like the old guy yelling at those pesky kids to get out of the Jell-O tree.
What’s funny is that my contemporaries say the same things about the generation before us. “They’re so old school,” we’ll complain, even though we love them like our parents. In some cases, more.
I was sitting on a board and a member 20 years my senior made a snide remark about my youth. I was 41 at the time. My ride had to peel me off the roof of the car on the way home.
“It’s okay that you don’t understand Homorazzi,” my neighbour consoled me. “That doesn’t make you old; it just means you’ve been there.” She’s right. There was a period in my life when I didn’t know where I was going to be living from one month to the next, but I was certain I was getting Entertainment Weekly for five years.
Now that’s what I call old school.