Up With Gramps
Last night I noticed the hideous "Up With Grups" cover of the current New York with the aging hipsters who won't grow up feature story. All those guys in hoodies with messenger bags made me feel a little queasy for reasons unknown (it's not like I'm attracted to that genre of men–it's doubtful anyone I've ever gone out with even knows who Death Cab for Cutie is, and they're pretty mainstream now, right? Ok, hold on, I'll check. Me to James: "Have you ever heard of a band called Death Cab for Cutie?" James: "I have no idea what the fuck that means." No lie). I'm not getting any younger, I stay vaguely in touch with what's cool…could they be writing about me?
The funny thing was that the label was addressed to the most unlikely tenant in the building, the cranky middle aged, non-hip, black woman who lives on the top floor and is always ordering things from Newport News (um, which I've been known to order from a few times despite 97% of their merchandise being frightening. Can wearing a Newport News bathing suit–yes, I said bathing suit–grant me immunity from present or future alterna-yuppie status?). But then, isn't NY Mag made for people not in the know to become up on trends that aren't really trends?
I actually like her when she picks battles that I agree with like the eyesore strollers near the front door, our door (it's beyond nasty baby buggies, but included [I use the past tense because I just realized the mess currently just consists of the stroller-I wonder if that was a self-directed clean up effort or the result of complaints to the landlord. I hate conflict so internally seethed rather than making fuss, and this just upset the NY Mag lady because she doesn't want to look like the crazy whiner in the building and told me I should say something too. I'm not sure I'm ready to cross over to her side yet] piles of books, toys and records-total grup taste, too. I saw their iTunes and it was filled with hipster lullabies. We promptly put a security code on our wireless network, though not before downloading a few choice numbers. There's only one baby in the building so the multiple strollers is a bit much. Do you think people would object if I started going upstairs and storing crap like old air conditioners, clothes I'm too lazy to hang up, or bottles of duplicate spices [I've got like three cinnamons and nutmegs] in the hall?), but not so much when they affect me like her wanting to put a bench in front of our ground floor window. I didn't want to see her ass at eye level every time I opened up the curtains for a view and that rubbed her the wrong way.
I didn't want to read the article, then today I was like fuck it. And then I was almost relieved, because it wasn't about me at all. It just reaffirmed what I've always known. There are too many clueless people making too much money in NYC, and babies are adorable props for said people to make statements with. I don't wear $450 jeans or limited edition sneakers (I'm not even allowed to wear jeans or tennis shoes at my non-creative, non VP job-apparently, grups are highly successful but hate how corporate they've become). I missed the whole mid-20s flashy internet job, so consequently haven't moved up in any ladder in my 30s. It's hard to identify with throwing away a career to be free when there's not much I can toss in the garbage.
But that's all fine. The only thing that rankled me was the bit on the last page about passion. Passion is a pet peeve. Like only creative people have passions. Only they act on their passions because they have a cushion. A financial cushion they, or more likely their family, may have amassed, the cushion that comes with knowing that said family would assist or bail you out if necessary. Being raised to think anyone would give a shit about your personal passions, that acting on fancies would even be a viable option.
As if being passionate is a generational thing, Gen X in this case. Passion is about having the security to follow you whim, i.e. touring Japanese textile factories in search of rare ultimate denim or tasting obscure native pods in the Amazon. Passion realized stems from class and education. This background makes denying suit-wearing 9-5 role models, feel like an act of rebellion.
My dad didn't even own a suit or a tie, and I never saw him out of a pair of jeans. He did manual labor his whole life and then he died. So, I'll rebel against the grind and shitty hard work for the sake of working hard. But I don't have to prove anything by being in the know, liberal or perpetually youthful. Just going to college at all or being single and childless in my 30s is enough to stray from what my path of least resistance could be (my 19-year-old cousin just got engaged a few weeks ago. As the oldest grandchild in our family by a long shot, I've always wondered how long it would take before someone started reproducing. Even my 31-year-old sister who's going on marriage number two this summer hasn't gone there. The kid thing has been a tough sell for us. Thank god for no sex before marriage cousins who are old enough to tie the knot–the family line [well, my mom's side] will live on).