I’m frequently told that I look young for my age. Yes, hearing that never, ever gets old. I also run in circles with many people that are a few decades my junior. The combination of these two things has lead to many interesting conversations.
“You’ve never read Harry Potter?!”
That’s one I hear a lot. I usually respond with something like, “If you were in your mid 20s, playing the hipster bar scene (we didn’t call ourselves hipsters back then) in a progressive post-punk band, would you be aware of what was popular in young adult fiction?”
This goes both ways, of course. Something about the Grateful Dead came up in the office a few months ago. One of the mid-20s people responded with, “What’s grateful dead?” This caused one of the 40-year-olds in our office to have a pretty severe Harry Potter reaction. (Incidentally, I have seen him on the receiving end of the Harry Potter reaction more than a few times.)
If you were in your mid 20s, sans kids, frequenting the hipster restaurant and bar scene, would a die hard, hippy country jam band whose front man died when you were entering kindergarten be on your radar?
It’s really no different, is it? It makes perfect sense that we would lack the same ratio of perspective from anyone as many times removed from our background.
Let’s have another example!
My wife and I are hanging out at our local brewery with some 20-something friends, commenting on the tacky old record covers they have hanging on the wall. We noticed one of them had a corner cut off, denoting that it was a promotional copy from the record label (my wife and I both worked in the record industry). Our friend asked if they do that to remove the bar code, which is a totally reasonable question if bar codes had been used on consumer products in the 1970s.
Oh, these dear sweet, ignorant people. People who it never occurred to in middle school that same sex relationships should be any more controversial than interracial, or mixed hair color relationships… “Faggot” was used so much in my middle school, it was practically used as a greeting. Now there is some perspective for you.
I revel in these interactions. As someone who so strongly feels the pull of cynicism into the realm of grumpy old man hood, it gives me strength to recognized this from both sides. It is, after all, the purpose of every generation to hand the reigns to the next. Everyone gets the chance to make their world what they want it to be. Share what you have learned, then enjoy the ride into the future.