Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Three things are coalescing in my crummy, sideways mind:

1) An important news item about Jennifer Love Hewitt!! I've always had a keen interest in Ms. Hewitt's theatrical career. She has a nice rack. Anyway, apparently, she looks forward to one day showing pin-up photos of herself to her grandchildren. As she puts it, then she can say "'See, I was cute.'"

2) Puberty is very difficult for some parents. I'm told it's also painful for teenagers themselves, but, really, who cares? A couple we know are having a bad time of it. But their child isn't taking drugs or having sex or bullying people online. No. The thing that's really troubling them is that no matter what they do, their kid keeps telling them, "You're embarrassing."

3) After six years of my own painful research, I'm certain that parenthood does in fact reduce one to a crummy, slovenly, untucked and uncool shadow of one's former self. The other night, Anette and I were standing outside of our cabin on the night train home from an Easter weekend with the grandparents. We were exhausted, poorly dressed and bitchy. We were waiting for our two darling daughters to fall asleep, so that we could enter the cabin, rummage around in the dark for our pajamas and toothbrushes, and then do the same. We must have looked profoundly square, and more than a little miserable.
In the cabin next to ours, twenty-one year old tough girls were hoisting beers and talking trash about tough boys. Fifteen feet down the hallway, a couple of thirty-year-old paragliders were slowly circling a 27-year-old junior executive babe--all 3 were slim, trim and dressed in black. Even the train steward was young and moussed up.
Most of these people didn't pay us any attention. But if they had, they might have thought I was a pretty sad excuse for an amateur adult. As I lay in my bunk a bit later, I felt a bit like a laughingstock. And then of course I fell asleep, because I was tired and I'm old.

Why is it so important to us to somehow convey to the youth, and especially our own spawn, that we once had a clue? That we somehow 'get' them because we were once under forty, too?

Some of this is completely understandable and no big deal to me. Even if Jennifer Love Hewitt was my grandmother, seeing pin-up fotos of her would be revolting. What kid would wanna see 'Nanna's naked popo?

And I'm certain that Adinah and V. will think I'm embarrassing when they're teenagers. They probably think that now. This is a kid's job. Why would anyone expect anything different from their kid? Parents and their children aren't pals or co-conspirators--they're apples and oranges. Two completely different kinds of ships in the night. I think it's much creepier when a kid listens to the same kind of music that their parents do, instead of listening to Katy Perry like all the other young idiots.

But there on the train, I got caught up in thinking, 'These kids don't really know me. I'm not always tired and crabby and middle-aged. Look, I used to hang out with actual rock stars, man!'

It was really stupid.

Oh well.


C N Heidelberg said...

I don't really have anything to add, but I like this post, so I'm commenting anyway.

pat said...

Thanks, CN. I'm feeling a little less crummy.

Gavin said...

I knew a guy in NYC who had a pen-and-ink nude cheesecake sketch of his grandmother up on his living-room wall. Grandma, apparently, was a babe back in the day.

Also: I choose to believe that we maintain the core of what made us cool (which is not the same as what made us hipsters), even through exhausted parenthood and middle age.

pat said...

Hi Gavin! Your grandma story gives me the creeps. I'm just one of those people who doesn't want to think of his parents (or their parents) having sex. And your second comment is seemingly reassuring, but it assumes that any of us were ever cool in the first place. I have my doubts. If I was ever cool, it was for about ten minutes in 1982. After that, I was just a goof-ball again.