Every parent wants to be the “cool” parent – that dad or mom that all the other kids love and want to hang out with. I’m that dad: at least in my mind. The reality is I’m still my kids’ “Old Man” and the sooner I recognize that the better. This experience was driven home recently when I went with my boys, and my son’s girlfriend, to The Outside Music Festival in San Francisco.
There were 65,000 attendees each of the three days of this Woodstock-like festival. It’s only like “Woodstock” in that there’s lots of live music and lots of people crammed together. Other than that, it’s clean, the weather was great, there’s food, drink, and plenty of port-a-potties. I was the oldest person there, except for Paul McCartney and Willie Nelson.
This is the reality. I didn’t belong there. I had fun, but I truly didn’t belong. I think my boys tolerated my presence since I paid for everything. My younger son bid me goodbye the exact moment we passed through the turnstiles and the TSA-like pat down and inspection. I saw him again when we met again to drive home. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have seen him at all.
My older son’s girlfriend really does like me, but once-in-a-while I’d look over at her as she was zoned into the music and realize I wasn’t twenty anymore! I also knew that I sure as heck wasn’t going to get stoned – though just about everyone else there seemed to be – and any attempt to dance would look as foolish as “Dad” in my comic strip (Because I Said So) regularly looks.
This is the bottom-line – adults should act their age. Do you know where the expression “the bottom-line” comes from? I’ll give the answer to that at the end of this column. I don’t believe that means we should just shrivel up and go away, but my generation of Baby Boomers just won’t give up on being cool. And, frankly, we’re not cool anymore. We’re old(er).
I will continue to live my life with zest, travel to exotic places, ski hard, try to break 100 at golf (it is my first year), and maybe, just maybe, leave the raves and music festivals to my kid’s generation. Please, hold me to this.
As far as concerts go, I will still attend the L.A. Philharmonic at The Hollywood Bowl and the occasional old-farts-reunited concerts (yes, I must attend any Eagles and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young reunions – that’s written in my contract) and I refuse to give up on The Boss. If Bruce Springsteen can still put on the best show in rock, then this Boomer is still going to go. Besides, no one younger than me can afford these concerts and when I look around at these concerts, I actually feel like the kid among the oldsters – quite unlike my recent 3-days in San Francisco.
Heck, let’s talk about who lives in San Francisco? I saw mainly millennials, young families, and I suppose Gen X, Y, and Z generation-age folks. Because real estate is so expensive and so small, people in San Francisco live and eat in the city. It is vibrant, but its crazy hard to get around and there are the occasional hills to deal with.
If San Francisco houses any people from my generation, I suppose they’re over the bridges in those many suburbs that surround The Bay Area. I suppose the older folks do venture into the city now and then – you know, for the ballet or to visit an art museum – but recognize that they belong far outside of its hubbub.
I often say that there’s only one thing good about getting older – getting wiser. This is an example of where wisdom needs to supersede a desire to stay a kid. I’m not a kid anymore. Nor are you. Who reads my columns? Not my kids are anyone near their age. Who even reads a newspaper or physical book? Not our kids.
Yes, we should embrace new things, but we also need to embrace our passage into middle and/or older age with grace. Perhaps, the looks I get from my boys and my wife are indications that I’m fighting those realities. Perhaps I can still have a blast but I don’t have to attend music festivals that truly are physical endurance events. Perhaps if I ever attend something like that again, I pay extra for those VIP tickets where the older folk have seats and their own bathrooms to use in a roped-off area separate from “the kids.” That area wasn’t exclusively populated by aging hippies, though it clearly contained an older demographic.
My generation infamously said not to trust anyone over thirty, yet Mick Jagger and his crew just celebrated their 50th anniversary tour. That was one concert I chose to pass on, both because the tickets were a complete rip-off and maybe, just maybe, even Mick Jagger who I believe actually was the person famous for that saying, should hang it up.
Note: “The Bottom-Line” is an expression that comes from movie/film budgets. There are two sections to every television and film budget: the above-the-line and bottom-line sections. The above-the-line half includes the big-name expenses such as actors, writers, producer, and director. The bottom-line section is the production costs – sort of like the construction costs when you build a house – the crew, location and travel expenses, editing, music rights, etc.
Second Note: I broke 100 (shot a 99) the day before I published this column!