By Charlotte Latvala
One of the most disconcerting things about turning 50 is that inevitable moment when you realize – perhaps in the midst of your Yoko Ono impersonation at a party – that you have completely lost your ability to judge whether something is amazingly hip or not.
After all, many once-cool things have plummeted from grace. Aluminum siding. Margarine. Bill Cosby.
Here’s a good rule of thumb: If it was un-cool when you were growing up, it’s probably super cool now. Such as….
- Broadway. Then, it was something corny and old-fashioned your parents forced you to go see. Now, Hamilton.
Cats are always cool.
- Filming your cat doing weird stuff. If you followed your cat around with your 8 mm as a teenager, you were quite the dork. Now? Still a dork, but possibly one with 20,000 followers.
Vinyl is a work of art.
- Vinyl. So passe, once CDs came out. Now? Vinyl is the gold standard of vintage cool. (You’re kicking yourself for getting rid of those three Boston LPs back in 1998, aren’t you?)
Whereas cassettes are just confusing.
- Cassettes. Which are apparently the new vinyl. Eight-tracks and picture discs will follow accordingly.
- Arena rock. Who knew that Journey would have such a long shelf life? We’d love to stop believing, if only we had the choice.
A hippy’s preferred mode of transport on his way home to his tiny house.
- Hippy life. In the eighties, what could be less cool than an old hippy, clinging to her memories of Woodstock and bralessness? Now, hippies are back. They are “crunchy.” But still hippies.
- Tiny houses. In our day, bigger was automatically better; the bigger the square footage, the better. Now, dollhouses are chic.
They almost predate electricity.
- Crockpots. Filled with disgusting sloppy Joes in the 1970s, they have now been rebooted as “slow cookers” and touted as a way to cook healthy homemade meals without actually doing any cooking.
This is a modern man.
- Beards. No normal person in our day wanted to look like a lumberjack or the cough drop guys. Now the Grizzly Adams meets Kris Kringle look simply will not go away.
- Thrift stores. Who used “thrift” as a verb way back when? Hippies, that’s who. Case closed.
Sun-In, and sunlight, and you’ll be blonder to-ni-ight. (Because in the right light, blonde and grey are indistinguishable.)
At 50, you know that summer’s not the non-stop party you were told it was by Seventeen Magazine and Sun-In commercials. We fifty-somethings tend to get cranky when confronted with bugs, humidity, and carefree beach music from days gone by. (Can we please stop pretending there is any reason to ever hear John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John croon “Summer Nights” again?)
To get through this often onerous season:
- Avoid unnecessary social events. And when your kid asks you why you didn’t come to his high school graduation, pretend you can’t understand the question.
Come on, it’s hard to remember every special occasion in the summer.
- Develop a chlorine allergy. Pools are for small children and teenagers. If you’re ever overcome with the desire to leap headfirst into cold liquid, I suggest a gin and tonic on the rocks.
Or this, whatever it is.
- Take afternoon naps, Gone with the Wind style. Flounce and pout first to make the experience more authentic.
- Take refuge in the library. Libraries are full of books, to be sure – but they also smell really good. Especially in the summer, with the air conditioning cranked and the water fountain set on mega-cold.
- Cherish the good things. Like air conditioning. And soft-serve ice cream. And co-workers on vacation for extended periods of time.
Remember, things could be worse this summer. You could be the guy in the fez costume.
- Stop shaving. NO ONE WILL NOTICE. Just like in winter. You’re 50, for crying out loud. No one’s examining your armpits.
- Likewise, let your lawn grow wild. Tell any pesky neighbors or local officials that you are developing a “wildlife habitat,” and make a lot of vague statements about “the environment.”
You say weeds, I say protected species.
- When you run into the inevitable construction zones on your way to work, shout inspiring messages in Latin at the road crew.
Carpe this diem, baby.
- Mark off the days of July and August in scratch marks, classic prison style, on your kitchen wall.
- Do your best to get the chorus of “Summer Nights” out of your head, where it has been implanted for the two minutes it took to read this.
By Charlotte Latvala
Be truthful: You’re not where you imagined you’d be, some decades back. Because, at 20, you pictured yourself living in a Duran Duran video, or at least working at some cool job like Martha Quinn’s.
Martha was a great role model. But not necessarily for you.
The reality is that you have a pile of bills, an unpredictably leaky roof, and eyesight so bad you need to magnify your screen to 140% just to check Facebook.
But there’s no cause for sadness. You can feel better about your underachieving ways without tiresome soul-searching. Try these shortcuts instead: Continue reading