Back in college there were two nightclubs adjacent to each other in the downtown area. One was called Polyesters and decorated in seventies memorabilia. The dance music was disco. Next door to Polyesters was Shabooms, a tribute to the fifties and sixties with red vinyl swivel stools and waitresses laced in bobby socks and short poodle skirts. Being that I was a mere twenty-one years old, entering Polyesters and Shabooms felt a bit sad. All those forty-year-olds reminiscing about the sixties and seventies seemed to be leering at my friends and me. Perhaps they were hoping for a chance to dance the jitterbug or the hustle with us.
Flash forward twenty-eight years later and I fear I am one of those creepy forty-somethings from Polyesters and Shabooms. I don’t frequent themed bars and ogle men half my age, but I worry I am trapped in a decade that was long ago in a time of mixed tapes, vinyl records, big Aqua Net hair, typewriters, walk-mans, and pop stars that are now dead. Prince, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, and my favorite George Michael never even hit the age of sixty.
I try to stay current. I ask my hairdresser if my hair is too big and she assures me it is not. I ask my twelve-year-old son if what I am wearing looks cool.
“Are you sure I don’t look like a dork?”
“Well, you are a dork,” he giggles and stomps off. His come back reminds me of of the movie Sixteen Candles and poor Molly Ringwald’s twelve-year old brother Mike.
A few years back I saw Long Duk Dong at MOMA in New York City. Well, the actor, Gedde Watanbe who played the Sixteen Candles character. He was looking at some Jackson Pollacks and I was so excited to recognize him that I jogged to find my husband to point him out. My heels clickety-clacked across the gallery floor putting a smile on Duk’s face.
Just last week I saw Lili Taylor. You know, Jo Jo from Mystic Pizza, and Corey the heart-broken guitar player in Say Anything and of course her movie Dog Fight with River Phoenix. As she walked past me in a Tribeca neighborhood I stared. We walked side by side for a few moments until she crossed the street to get away from me.
My husband bought a 1990 Corvette and we drive around town in it. He asked me, “Do I look like some old dude driving a vintage car?” His hair is nearly all silver now, premature grey when I met him, but honestly I hadn’t noticed its slow transformation in the nearly fifteen years I have known him.
“No! You just look like John.”
But when the two of us and our son are in the car we like to listen to a station that plays new wave music; and my son complains, “This music is horrible!”
“Your own personal Jesus, Someone to hear your prayers, Someone who cares …”
“This is Depeche Mode and this is one of the coolest songs of all time!” I insist.
Everyone at work is getting younger. They all own chickens that lay fresh eggs every morning and they bring their dogs to work and they climb ice covered mountains and ski down them and they know how to use Google Docs and they never jam the printer. I jam the printer, every time I use it.
I still say grody, gag me with a spoon, wicked, word to your mother, whatever, and what’s up.
In my head I am current. But my iPhone has more vintage tunes than current. Why does Post Malone want those tattoos on his face? Why does Ariana Grande’s music all sound the same? Why am I not excited about Taylor Swift’s new single and its video’s subliminal messages?
I remember when people smoked at work. My closet still has a couple of suits with shoulder pads any quarterback could wear. I miss Friends on Thursday nights and Sarah Jessica Parker – not from Sex and the City but Square Pegs. I miss the excitement of MTV premiering a new video on a Saturday night. I miss thirteen cable stations and stores not open on Sundays. I miss The Limited and Forenza sweaters.
Sometimes, I wish I was still the twenty-one year old in Shabooms listening to Buddy Holly or Fats Domino croon from the speakers.