My teenage son burst into the house, flushed with youthful vigor after an all-night session of slam-dancing to the music of the Dead Milkmen. And suddenly I am aware of my age.
I look at myself and my friends…What happened to us? Didn’t we once dream that we could change the world through barbaric, juvenile behavior?
My son denies that members of his generation sit around all day gazing at their smart phones and playing video games. When there’s nothing else to do, they go out “bologna dropping.” That’s when you drop five-pound tubes of bologna from overpass bridges down on passing cars, he explains.
“The bologna just explodes,” he said. “It’ll make a car smell like garlic for years.”
Or they go out “cow tipping.” That’s when you sneak up on a sleeping cow and push it over. It takes three people to do it.
“And it really makes the cow mad,” said my son. “You better get away from there in a hurry.”
Do those sound like the words of an uncommitted, self-indulgent individual? Who says that the younger generation lacks principle and vision?
I look at my contemporaries and I wonder what happened to our idealism, our daring? Are we the same ones who once had the courage to defy the establishment by not combing our hair and shining our shoes?
The answer is that we have become the establishment. Remember when Bob Dylan sang, “Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m yoiu9nger than that now?” I bet he’s writing songs about his prostate now.
My friends used to boast of their vices. Now, when a wild mood seizes them they might take a twist of lemon in their ice water. They bring along their own diets when yo9u ask them to dinner – a little dish of ru9ghage, a solitary rice cake, a wizened apple. Once proud possessors of paunches, they’re all emaciated as Gandhi now.
After a few stiff glasses of ice water have loosened their tongues, their conversation warms to issues such as the scarcity of red squirrels these days.
“I don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve seen a red squirrel…Now alls you see are grey ones. Wonder what became of all those red ones?”
Occasionally, there’s a flash of the 0ld spirit when we get on a topic such as cholesterol or copper versus plastic plumbing. Then you ought to see the sparks fly. Someone worries about what a late frost will do to the crocuses. And before you know it, it’s 9 o’clock – bedtime – and the orgy breaks up.
They say we go through a moment in our 40’s, before we attain the serenity of dotage, when the final paroxysms of youth tempt us to do something youthful again. I’ve accepted that there’s little chance I’ll ever do anything that will change the world. But that doesn’t free me from the powerful need to do something unique, maybe even a little crazy to be remembered by. So I’ve consulted my doctor. He says that a man my age with my blood pressure should avoid slam-dancing. Cow-tipping is a no-no too. But he gives bologna dropping the green light. It can actually be good for the heart, he says, as long as it’s done it moderation, of course.