Just as I was getting used to the idea of being old it suddenly hit me; I have acute NLC, a major disorder affecting more and more baby boomers every day: No Longer Cool.
I have no scientific polling to back me up but it’s certain that at least 33% of my friends right now are saying, “Dude, you were never cool.”
At the dentist today I won a special teeth whitening gizmo because I was the only one in the office that could name who was singing on their Sirius feed. It was Billy Joel, “Don’t go changing.” This is uncool on so many levels. Mainly that I admitted it because I wanted to get something for free.
I also recognized all the other songs that were playing and I realized that Sirius is today’s Muzak; nice and inoffensive tunes to help you pass the day. And I wanted to weep; these were all very popular hit songs, some considered progressive, now consigned to a digital graveyard; Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s Lucky Man; Joni Mitchel’s Free man in Paris; even Gordon Lightfoot.
There are other signs of onset or total NLC; you pay for your groceries or have other interactions with cute young women who take your credit card and seem somehow not to see you; they don’t, as you crawl over 60 you become invisible to wide swaths of millennials and other young whippersnappers.
When you watch TV news the anchors and reporters all look to be roughly twelve years old. As a former TV news reporter I’m amazed at how talented reporters are in walking, up and back, over and around, even backwards. Of course I never really get what they’re saying I’m too focused on their agility.
I’m getting the chance to do some acting now that I’ve retired. Theaters abound in Wilmington, NC. In between rehearsing scenes I began to notice that sometimes I can’t understand the conversation of my younger counterparts. They talk too fast, with enormous youthful energy and discuss popular culture and digital fancies that completely elude me. It’s like being in an Aaron Sorkin play and I’ve forgotten my lines and lost my place. Wait. I am in Sorkin’s “A Few Good Men,” at the Red Barn, weekends May 6 to May 22.
It has been pointed out to me by my wardrobe manger, (my wife Sue) that when it comes to clothing I have acute NLC with Catastrophic NAGL (Not a Good Look). I own several pairs of slacks that have pleats and I’m not afraid to wear them.
No point in discussing hair, not enough to warrant serious attention.
And finally I return to music. Mostly I love the blues and guitar bands; Widespread Panic, Los Lobos, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats. I miss the Dead and always will.
But I have a confession to make I love “Fresh Radio,” Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Meghan Trainor and other pop stars that bring out my inner tween. I don’t know how this happened or why, it just is.
There is no cure for NLC; it’s a progressive disorder that plunges one ever downward until you’re left alone in a nice warm place somewhere singing Tay Tay’s songs in your addled mind.