I had a very stressful conversation at work today. It didn’t start that way. In fact, I wasn’t even really part of it at first. But I got dragged in through the following exchange in the next cubicle:
Coworker: Something something gun control something Ted Nugent.
Young coworker: Who’s Ted Nugent?
Me (over cubicle wall): Stop being so young over there!
I am not sensitive about my age. I’m 51. I practice the Doctor McCoy philosophy on aging: “What’s so bad about not having died yet?” And my contemporaries are a very mixed bag. I am about 4 weeks younger than Barack Obama (who nobody calls old, in spite of the grey hair), 3 weeks older than Dan Marino (who has been called old since he was 33), and 4 weeks older than Heather Locklear (who I mention only because I’ve had a huge crush on Heather Locklear since Dan Marino was young).
But I digress. Having heard this outrageous question, I stood up asked my coworker (let’s call him Jason, since his name is Jason), “What do you mean, ‘Who’s Ted Nugent’?” I don’t care what your opinion is of the man, or whether you think of him as an aging 70’s rocker or an NRA spokesman. The name should at least be recognizable.
So I helpfully explained who he was (“aging 70’s rocker and NRA spokesman”), and generally berated Jason the bad taste of being too young. He then asked me, “How old do you think I am?”
This is an interesting question. Both men and women will occasionally ask this question, but the answers can vary greatly. For a woman, the answer is (Spoiler Alert) always “Twenty-three”. No other answer will suffice, because all women between the age of 16 and 75 want to be told that they look 23. Never, EVER, attempt to answer the question accurately, even if you know her age. Even if she is your twin sister. This way lies madness (as in, the woman will be mad at you).
Men have a more competitive spirit. When a man asks you to guess his age, he wants you to be wrong, so that he wins. (Competing with other men is the only time we get to win without repercussions.) So as I looked at Jason (who looks to be in his late 20’s to early 30’s), the coworker sitting behind Jason (who I will call Jon for reasons which will become clear shortly) helpfully holds up 5 fingers on his left hand and 3 fingers on his right. Since Jason and Jon work more closely with each other than I do with either of them, I deferred to Jon’s judgment. “Based on the hint I’m getting from Jon, I’m guessing that you’re 53.” Jason turned and looked at Jon. Jon quickly looked at his hands, and reversed the count of fingers to indicate 35 instead of 53. The following conversation ensued:
Me: OK, that’s more reasonable. Otherwise you’d have to have a picture of Dorian Gray in your attic. <Pause> The Picture of Dorian Gray is a story about…
Jason: I know who Dorian Gray is!
Jon (who’s even younger than Jason): Wasn’t he one of the people in that Sean Connery movie about…
Me: <sigh> Yes. Dorian Gray was a member of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
You see what I have to deal with? The problem with today’s young people all comes down to attitude. See, when I graduated from college in 1983, adults had two things in common:
1) They were all older than me.
2) Most of them were born in the 1950’s or before.
Today’s young people have no sense of tradition. None of the 25-year olds I know are older than me, and most of them waited until the 1980’s to be born. As a result, instead of just knowing stuff like who Ted Nugent is, they have to learn it from someone who does know. And it’s just gonna get worse. Most of this year’s high school graduating class was born between 1994 and 1995. When I was in high school, we wouldn’t have been caught dead being born in the 90’s. That sort of thing was just unheard of in my day. We were all born in the 60’s back then, and that was good enough for us!
As I walked away, the coworker who originally asked about Ted Nugent followed up with this question: “Have you ever heard of ‘Dark Side of the Moon’?” Just as I turned the corner, I heard the beginning of Jason’s response.
“Yeah, I think it’s either a book or…”