For a few horrifying minutes this week, I found myself at a party with people half my age. A friend had won VIP passes to a Canada Day event for six of us, so we decided to check it out. In our capri pants or jeans, flat shoes and shirts that covered our torso, we were decidedly overdressed. The girls, at least 15 years my junior, donned ultra-short shorts and halter tops, or minute dresses with fabric noticeably absent in strategic places. Most wore high heels that challenged their ability to walk upright. The boys were unremarkable, simply taking in the sights.
The partyers danced to music devoid of rhythm or comprehensible lyrics, save the occasional profanity (a friend tells me it’s “house music” – new to me, but that may simply reveal my lack of musical savvy). As I stood there feeling mild contempt for the clothing and music of this group, it struck me. I am the older generation. I am smug in my superiority, confident that my experience of youth was more righteous, less desperate, more fashion-savvy and, if nothing else, accompanied by music with decipherable lyrics.
I imagine that this is how the generation before me felt about my generation’s taste in clothes, music and lifestyle. No doubt the generation before that felt the same about those who came after them. So it is, I suppose, with aging. Maybe that’s the one comfort we derive from getting older. We have accumulated knowledge and wisdom that allows us to see (or at least to imagine) that we have a better handle on life than those who come after us. And just as strongly, each generation feels the older one simply doesn’t “get it.” Maybe they are equally right.
I feel confident that the partyers in that room are but one segment of the 18- to 24-year-old population (at least that’s my hope and my interactions with other 18- to 24-year-olds bear that out). I do hope that the ultra short-shorts and high heels are a phase this group will stumble through (perhaps literally), although that is no doubt presumptuous and judgmental of me.
Lucky for me, I am with a group that shares my presumptions and judgments. We make a hasty exit from the party, heading back to the comfort of our hotel suite, where we’re asleep by midnight, lulled by the comfort that we’re part of the generation we are.