Feeling the freedom of uncoolness
I studied the list of Grammy winners. ”Who?” I skimmed a little further. ”Huh?”
Years ago, I rolled my eyes when my dad said the same things while I cheered for my favorite singers on awards night. ”How,” I wondered, ”can any human being on planet Earth be so out of touch with reality?”
Now I know.
I’ve given up the impossible quest for coolness and now luxuriate in the wonderful comfort of freedom.
That’s the beauty of life on the other side of 50.
In our teens and 20s, expressing our individuality became ritualistic torture. What we meant by ”individuality” was ”different from anything our fogey parents would say, wear or do.”
Showing up at school wearing the wrong fashions invoked searing ridicule and shame that scarred the soul for years.
It also qualified us as experts at what everyone else should do. I was stupified at how old guys didn’t get that wearing black knee socks with Bermuda shorts and sandals showed sheer dorkiness.
Now I realize it wasn’t not knowing, but not caring.
I’ve reached that age where comfort supercedes the need for cool. If the shirt fits and feels good, I’m wearing it. Snicker at the collar, cut or colors if you will, but I’m the one getting the senior discount at both Banana Republic and Krispy Kreme.
I used to wonder why the fossil in front of me drove so slowly. The car’s got a gas pedal for a reason – to stomp!
Now I wonder where’s the fire? Why rush through what’s left of this magnificent journey? I aim to savor it, drink in the scenery and enjoy the ride.
Besides, I can’t remember where it was I meant to go. The memory loves to play practical jokes this side of 50.
I was the kid picked last for any sport. My every lumbering, clunky move was mocked.
Here on the other side of 50, when the kids see a graybeard clunkily lumbering to the finish line, they cheer. ”You go, Gramps! What an inspiration at your age.”
On the front side of 50, people believed I should know everything about every hunk and pixel of new technology. Now when someone realizes I don’t own a smartphone, they merely shrug and say, ”He’s old. What do you expect?”
That’s the key. They aren’t expecting anything!
Sure, it’s a bit annoying that the kids use that 3-year-old voice: ”Ooh, very good, you found the on button. Go show that to Mr. Grumpenmacher drooling in the corner over there. He’s your age. I bet he’d like to play with you.”
Still, lowered expectations allow me the freedom to get out there and do something simply because I want to. I’m free to fumble with as many or as few techie toys as I wish with no pressure to make them do anything I don’t want to do. I embrace the liberty.
I glanced again at the Grammy list. There! A name I know! Paul McCartney. He won something called Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.
So one of the guys who revolutionized rock gets a category with a polite title that means Best Doddering Oldster Still Plunking Away at Geezer Music. Why worry as long as he still gets to do what he loves to do?
I plan to look up the album. I might even play it on an iPod someday. But not to be cool. Only if I want to.
—- Relax with the ”seasoned” one at firstname.lastname@example.org or at the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook.