I admit that yes, I have said this before. “Damn kids!” I admit this and laugh because I remember being a kid and laughing when some old person shook their fists and shouted the very same thing.
I remember this. I remember the differences between the generations and the communication gap, which seemed to be ever-widening. There was us and them, the young and the old. Between the two views, never the twain shall meet. I say this with full recognition that this is an old, outdated saying, which means two things are too different to coexist, relate or understand each other.
I remember the crazy differences in fashion, which to my embarrassment, the fact is I was part of my own fashion tragedies. With regret, I admit to a period of time when I had a hairbrush in my back pocket. Yes, this was me. We dressed differently and lived differently. We spoke differently and listened to different music. The older generation above mine (or ours) would always have something to say.
I remember this.
I remember hearing things like, “Hey you kids, get off my lawn!” I remember the difference and the belief, in which I had sworn this was law: I am young and they are old. Period, end of sentence. There was no translation to connect between the generations. To them, the older ones looked at us and shook their heads. Never the twain shall meet. We were us and they were them. I swore this was true.
I’m not sure when I crossed over to the other side. I’m not sure if it was realism and skepticism or if I found myself in moments or cynicism or pessimism; but somehow, I became an adult.
Maybe this began when I found myself paying attention to the news. Maybe this began when I joined the working world and acted like grownups do. I’m not sure when I transitioned into adulthood. I don’t know when this began but I do admit to saying things that I swore I’d never say.
Damn kids . . .
I have seen different parts of my city. I have seen romance build and both fall into the slumps of loveless and cold lifestyles, which are empty and void of touch, passion or trust. I have seen the City’s Lower West Side and the long-legged woman (or so-called women) with special surprises hidden below, tucked-in panties for the secretive fetish-Johns that look for a more interesting satisfaction. I have seen the wild nights and the late nights on cobblestone streets at places like Mercer or Merc-bar where a well-dressed woman sat at the bar in an after-hours joint with a leash in her hand. The other end of the leash was attached to a collar around a grown man’s neck.
She held the leash tightly and only allowed him to speak in short spurts. She was his mistress and he was her submissive. And yes, I’ve seen this. I’ve seen it all, or so I thought.
I’ve lived. I tell you this without any uncertainty. I’ve seen the good things and the bad things and the crazy things. I’m a seasoned veteran. Yes I am. And then I see these kids and think to myself, “Goddammit man! Don’t they know how to live?” I want to scream “Get off your fuckin phones!”
I want to tell them what they’re missing.
I want to say, “Take your eyes off the screen for just a minute and I promise you, there’s a beautiful world out there just waiting to meet you.”
Everything has changed. The City has changed. Fashion has changed. Music changed to the point where I wonder if anyone makes music anymore. And where’s the romance here?
Do these kids even know? Everything is automated now. Everything is technology. There is no more interaction, just texting. I see this and wonder where the experience is.
Do these kids even know what it feels like to meet someone special? Is there still romance or teenage love?
Do any of these kids really know what it means to find themselves so smitten? You see someone and then BAM! You can’t even think straight.
Nothing else matters. All the bills could go to hell. The lights and electric could be shut; an eviction notice could be on the door and meanwhile, you’re on the phone with someone and still smiling.
I don’t even know if young lust is young lust anymore But then again. Perhaps this is something old people say, which means that yes, I have officially crossed over. I am on the other side. This means my spot at the kid’s table has been taken away.
None of them know. They don’t know about life or living. They don’t know about the game. They don’t know about love or how to approach someone and try to make a go of it. What do these kids know about romance?
Well, I have a story that has me stand corrected.
I remember this young, teenage couple. They were on the subway with a picnic basket. They shared a seat next to each other. They said very little to one another yet, there was this pure connection. They shared food with each other. Each gesture between the two was so loving and perfect. And rather than give into the misconceptions of inner-city living, the two went on a date and rode the subway from one end to the other. They had their own picnic on the train.
I watched them but not too intensely, of course. Keep in mind, I didn’t want to be an old, creepy guy that stared too long. But still, I noticed them. In fact, I admired them. And partly, I envied them too because as young as they are; they knew the secret of innovation. They understood the variations and parameters of romance. They were not a couple of kids at all. No, these were two people that set out to enjoy a day together. No matter what age they were, they were perfect for each other.
I think to myself about the way I swore I’d never grow old. I swore that I would never forget what it means to live out loud or laugh or be wild, be crazy, or head downtown to places like St. Marks. I never want to forget the times I hit the museums by myself like a kid in total amazement
I don’t know when it was. I’m not sure how long it’s been since I walked in Central Park. All I know is that if I am not careful, I can defy my dreams by growing old and too cynical. And do you know what?
I don’t want to be old. Not now. Not ever.
I wish I could thank these two kids for the lesson.
Thanks for reminding me of the system. Although unfortunately, I know that things do and must change. We grow and we age. However, I do not ever want to grow or age so much that I forget myself. I always want to remember the surge I felt the first time I walked around in New York City. I don’t ever want to forget the relation I felt when I heard the poet Jim Carroll read, “Ah, the city is on my side.”
I don’t ever want to forget the time I had an agent tell me, “You’ll never make it in a million years kid,” and yet meanwhile, I was standing near Columbus Circle in the summertime. My blue Converse sneakers were loosely tied. I stood with my feet on the curb. I had on my white tank-top, a pair of jeans, and the breeze and the comfortable warmth from the setting sun felt good across my tattooed skin.
I had one of NYC’s famous dirty water dogs, with mustard, ketchup, and sauerkraut in my right hand. I had a few napkins in my left – and to be honest, nothing else mattered. Not at all.
No matter how old I am, this is always the person I want to be.