Thursday, January 05, 2006

COLUMN: Really, Really Old. Officially.

The time, as they say, is nigh.

I've been obsessing about it in this very column for at least half a year now. I've tried everything: denial, repression, avoidance. Nothing worked. Time is a cruel, cruel mistress -- and unless something horribly tragic happens in the coming days, by the time this column makes print in the papers, I will be (SOB!) 35 years old.

There's nothing left but acceptance now. I am officially old. Farewell, coveted 18-34 demographic, it was good to be in your ranks of movers and shakers. Now, the only shaking I'll be doing will be courtesy the onset of palsy due to old age. Oh, and of course, if I'm not neurotic ENOUGH, let's not forget that I'm 35 AND hopelessly single still. Most people my age are married with kids; I, meanwhile, can't keep a houseplant alive for more than a week.

But I'm trying to remain optimistic. Maybe babies are for suckers. I mean, at least I'm not up to my elbows in dirty diapers or out buying mini-vans or assembling swingsets in my back yard. And no signifigant others means no reason to save money for all that responsible stuff, which is why I can brag about the fact that I'm ranked Top 300 in the nation on Star Wars: Battlefront II for X-Box Live. Any guy my age without kids or family responsibilities would do the same. And ladies, if your man is telling you that video games are for immature dweebs, HE'S LYING. Give that guy a free hour and an X-Box controller and he'll be fighting ninjas faster than you can say "Honey, can you take out the trash?"

So I'm sure I'll be okay. One of two things is bound to happen. I'll either (a) be blessed with dreaded maturity, find my soulmate (as always, applicants are encouraged to e-mail:, get my 2.4 children and my white picket fence, or (b) I'll be the creepy old guy who lives in the ramshackle apartment with my 62 cats, and I'll spend my days coming up with new and exciting ways to scare neighbor kids. Honestly, either outcome has it's positives.

And if maturity hits and I settle for a life of taking the kids to soccer practice, I can look back at my 18-34 years with pride and accomplishment. I've never been any kind of out-of-control party animal, nor have I found myself having numerous run-ins with The Law or anything, but I had my moments of pure, unadulterated immaturity, and some of those moments will carry through my memories as some of the greatest times of my life. For instance:

* You know that bizarre illuminated pedestrian bridge over John Deere Rd.? The one that's always in the paper over its pointlessness? Yeah, we went BOWLING on that bridge once, complete with balls that we "borrowed" (and yes, later returned) from a nearby bowling lane.

* Alongside my business partner and friend Chris McCreight, we founded Exstasis Promotions in 1993 and introduced the Quad Cities to rave culture. We can now look back at a legacy of almost 100 safe, fun all-night parties. No one thought that kids could get together without adult supervision and dance to some of the best DJ's in the world without problems breaking out left and right; we proved them ALL wrong, and the dance music culture that I hopefully had a hand in bringing to town still flourishes in clubs and parties throughout the Quad Cities today.

* Back in the day, we perfected the word "roadtrip" into an aimless artform. A classic example being the night we decided to see which carload of us could drive to Chicago, touch the Sears Tower, and make it back to the Quad Cities first. Then there was the night that we wanted to play some cards, but didn't have any handy, so we decided to hop in the car and go buy a deck of playing cards. We found a great deck six hours later in Missouri.

* When the flood of '91 hit, we did exactly what they tell you NOT to do and went driving through the ravaged downtown. As a result, my car was the very last to make it across Arsenal Island before the bridges were impassable. Driving across the Illinois side of the bridge, gunning the engine as water was beginning to reach over the hood of the car still might be the scariest and most fun moment of my life.

But you get the point without me incriminating myself any more than necessary. I DID have some incredibly immature fun back in the day, and I'm not so old that those memories have lost their lustre. Maybe it's not the era that makes the man; it's the man that makes the era. So perhaps the question isn't whether or not I'm ready for middle age, it's whether middle age is ready for ME.


Wendy said...

Happy B-day! And it's not been half a year of obsessing - I would know 'cuz I've not hit the halfway mark to 36, yet. Soon tho' - very soon. :| Too soon. :(

Just remember, I will always be older than you and you have my permission to remind me of that whenever you see fit. lol

Love Ya!

MR said...

I saw you dragging into the office today ... looking like death on a stick. You said you had the flu but I know better. And so did the turkey buzzards hovering over your VW. Time to free up some space on your IPod for Lawrence Welk records.

-shane- said...

Maybe it's a Monday thing, but "Death on a stick" had me laughing all day.

By the way, folks, that's my editor.

And yes, there ARE turkey buzzards hovering over my VW, but it's only because inside those many bags of fast food garbage lie the remains of approx. 3.82 uneaten cheeseburgers of yore. Time to drag my old a** out and clean out the car, methinks.

JohnC Anderson said...

I thought I was "really, really, really" old when I hit forty.

I'm sixty one now (not as cute as I ever was, if I ever was) but I'm probably fitter, fiestier, funnier and more fun than I was when I was a young whipper snapper* and if you keep the right attitude you will be too.

In addition to attitude, get fit. Swim rivers handcuffed, lift a lot of weights and ride a bike for umpteen miles.

*what the hell is a "whippper" as in "whipper snapper" anyway?