The Present is Your Past

Ferris Bueller had it right, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.” I don’t know when I last posted. Doesn’t matter, really, because life is a hot rod and I’m just trying to hold on to the wheel. So, I’ve been looking around when I can, but mostly I’ve been staring straight ahead.

I do know that I have noticed a strange phenomenon. It started last summer with “classic” rock stations playing songs from my youth and the way people dress these days. I literally saw a woman wearing overalls the other day. People wearing what looks to be acid-washed jean shorts are everywhere. Hold up, jean shorts AND they’re acid-washed? Why do I even know that? How do these people get away with it? I mean, it isn’t 1992 anymore.

When I say people, I mean those whippersnappers who are substantially younger than I. You know the ones. Their parents were listening to Jesus Jones or EMF when they were created. Unbelievable.

These are kids who wear Nirvana t-shirts the way I wore a Hendrix t-shirt, as if they were “born at the wrong time” or meant for “a different era.” They wish they were around when music was dangerous and things were finally changing. It sounds so tired and familiar, but yesterday, I sort of realized, hey that was my era, MF!!

My son and I were doing the very cool and un-ironic task of purchasing an iced-chai for ourselves. We parked and meandered across the very crowded parking lot, not wanting to bespoil Mother Earth by waiting in a drive-thru line. As we neared the front door of the independent coffeehouse, I noticed a young creature with purple hair, combat boots, a top hat, and a wooden Asian umbrella jauntily walking toward the door as well. I was struck by just how out of place she was, with her John Lennon sunglasses and the wispy scarf wrapped around her hat and the odd mini-dress she was wearing that was sort of lacy and Hollywood-trashy in a way that Hollywood is not trashy anymore. No, this was less Dolce & Gabanna and more thrift store chic. In other words, was this chick a time travelling S.O.B., or what?

“Did I go to high school with you?” I wanted to ask, but didn’t mainly because I got distracted by the music pumping from the speakers over the door as we entered.

Yep, “Jane Says she’s done with Sergio…” tickled my ears like an old friend saying hello. The purple-haired freak and the Jane’s Addiction soundtrack really had me reeling by now. Was this some sort of time warp? Was I somehow a dad AND back in high school all at the same time?

At the counter, a girl with Adele-level eyeliner and a sarcastic-streak reminiscent of Winona Ryder’s character in Reality Bites took our order. Then a kid wearing a Blockbuster Video t-shirt took our order. I mentioned that we were at a coffeehouse, right? (A hip, local, independent, “we-source-our-coffeebeans-from-special-Peruvian-master-green-farmer/growers” coffeehouse?)

I looked around, people on laptops sat together, and alone, brooding over the issues of today. A wide range of clothing styles was visible, but most wore t-shirts, preferably black and emblazoned with a variety of “question authority” types of messages and images. A proud people, unflinching in the light of day, free to stand up and say, “This is me! What’s it to you?”

This was the world that my friends and I dreamed of when we were stuck in bland suburbia, miles from the heart of anything, fighting against the same-itude of everything around us, and subjected to the ridicule of our straight-laced peers, as well as the no-nothing adults who shook their heads at our “odd” behavior and appearance.

Now here I am, living through the second-coming of the Alternative Nation. Nothing’s shocking anymore.

I bet this is how the old hippies felt when they saw us digging their music, wearing tye-dye t-shirts, and championing social issues back in the early 90’s. I admit, I felt a little smug, maybe a bit righteous, knowing that this was my music, my style, my youth movement. But I’m not in my youth anymore, am I?

I just smiled and looked around one last time. My son and I made our way out the door. As we left, Black Francis and the Pixies serenaded us with “Here Comes Your Man.” It felt like an anthem; just then, it felt like a triumphant march and I thought: World, here comes your man, indeed!

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