Monday, February 21, 2011
The other day, I caught a rerun of the spectacularly tacky 70's sci-fi epic, "Logan's Run." Hopefully you've experienced the so-bad-it's-good flick for yourself. If not, the premise is pretty simple: In a Utopian futureworld, mankind lives a pleasurable existence under giant domes where computers cater to your every wish. It's a paradise city where the grass is green, the girls are pretty, and your weird leisure suits of the future come in a dazzling array of pastel awesomeness.
There's just one problem: When you turn 30, a little glowy light in your hand starts blinking and you get rounded up and thrown into an arena where you fly around and get disintegrated by bad 1970's special effects while all your friends cheer.
When I saw this movie as a little kid, I was HORRIFIED at the prospect of a society gone so wrong as to arbitrarily put a limit on human existence. This time around? I was like, "Eh. Kinda makes sense." I'm starting to realize that life's a big downhill slide after 30. Maybe Logan's people had it right all along. After all, who am I to deny my friends a nice fireworks display? Okay, sure, I might be dead, but I'd be spared yet another night of watching a "Billy-the-Exterminator"-a-thon on A&E.
It's time I faced a cold, hard fact. By the time you read this column, I will be FORTY years old. I couldn't even type that sentence without my stomach tying up in knots. The way I see it, by age alone, I am now officially disqualified from the primary motivating factor in my life: I can never be cool again.
Not that I ever particularly WAS cool, mind you. It was just something nice to strive for.
Forty year olds just aren't cool. Name one, I dare ya. At the very best, you can come up with some people who once WERE cool, but lost it mightily when they hit my age. Look at the evidence. Paul McCartney was a cool dude once upon a time. What happened when he hit forty? "Ebony and Ivory." M. Night Shyamalan was once the coolest film director in the world. He turns 40 and - bam! - "The Last Airbender." Brett Favre went sexting. Madonna thought it'd be a good idea to cover "American Pie." Forget Buddy Holly - Don McLean should have written a tragic hit about your 40th birthday: It IS the day your coolness dies.
The biggest problem I've got with this particular birthday? It pretty much makes me over-the-hill for ANY of the activities I enjoy doing. ANY of them. I just wrote out a list of my all-time favorite leisure activities, and every last one of them sounds patentedly ridiculous for a 40-year-old to be doing, unless that 40-year-old is an aspiring child predator. Don't believe me? Let's go through it:
#1 - VIDEO GAMES. When was the last time you saw a 40-year-old playing video games? Steve Carell's character did it in "The 40 Year Old Virgin." But it was a plot device. It was in the movie to point out what his life was lacking and make you laugh at what a sad little dweeb he was. Well I'm 40 years old and I like playing video games and I don't care what people have to say about it. Call me a nerd all you want, but doggone it, I still swear it's cathartic to get home from a long day at the office and shoot some kid in the face on "Call of Duty."
The problem with today's video games, though, is that they're not designed for the gracefully-aging 40-year-old. They're designed for the white hot reflexes of your garden variety hyperactive 12-year-old. That's why in actuality, I'm really quite horrible at "Call of Duty." By the time I've figured out how to aim my weapon, I've already taken a sniper rifle to the chest and can hear some 12-year-old laughing hysterically that I've been "pwned," whatever that means. The other day in a 5-minute round, I had 0 kills and 19 deaths. (Translation to OTHER 40-year-olds out there: That's baaaad.) I'm being edged out of my love for video games by natural selection.
#2 - DJing. I love mixing records at nightclubs. It's my primary passion in life and practically the only hobby I've ever known. Any idea how hard it is to convince a club owner that you're the best DJ in town when you're also the OLDEST? 40-year-old DJ's don't usually work nightclubs; at best, they're the guys in the lame smelly tuxes trying to teach your Aunt Edna how to do the Electric Slide at your wedding reception.
#3 - MUSIC. A terrifying thing happened to me the other day. I normally have my morning alarm clock set to the Top 40 attack of B100 or my pal Jeff James on Star 93.5. But the other night, one of my cats must have brushed the dial, because I woke up to the sugary melodic soft rock of KUUL-FM Oldies. More specifically, it was the soothing melody of "Ventura Highway" by America. And, as I lie there in bed struggling to find my brain's power button, the only thought that went through my head was: "WOW. What a great song this is." I LIKE SOFT ROCK?!?! SINCE WHEN?!?! If you EVER catch me listening to Celine Dion in a non-mocking manner, you have my full blessing to assassinate me in the promptest of ways.
#4 - AIMLESS DRIVING. Nothing clears the head quite like getting in the car with no agenda or destination and just driving. At least, it USED to clear my head. Nowadays it fills with thoughts like, "Gee, I should really add some Heet to the gas tank." "I wonder how the tread's wearing on these tires?" "Did you remember to pack your emergency kit and blanket in the event that your car breaks down?" Maturity is a FUN-KILLER, folks.
So I'm just gonna pretend this week's birthday didn't really happen. As far as anyone's concerned, I'm 39 until further notice. And based on the number of co-workers who went "WOW! YOU'RE 40?!?!" when it came up, I think I'm holding my own for now. I've still got my hair, I'm still relatively wrinkle-free, and I'm still the guy who turns the volume on the car stereo up instead of down. And if you need me, I'll be the guy in a fetal position over in the corner, sobbing and rocking back and forth, probably to the beat of "Ventura Highway." My name's Shane, and I'm in my forties.