Notes From An Old Codger – Volume I

I swear, he sold me a bag of fried pork rinds and a bottle of Mountain Dew outside of Little Rock! (Photo from phojoe.com)

When I was young, just decades ago, I swore to myself that I would never become old and out of touch.  Little did I know that even as I made those solemn pledges to myself, the process had already begun.  I’d developed a fondness for types of music which would eventually be played on the Musak system at the supermarket.  I’d played outdoors and lived with grass stains and no seat belts, in a world devoid of video games and on-demand entertainment.  My favorite hairstyles would not hold up well to male-pattern-baldness.  The final straw was having children.  Those hyper-sensitive critics who would have a real problem with my trying to dress or act  like anyone but a Dad.

I read a post recently, where Life With The Top Down referred to a man she’d met.  She wrote that he reminded her of Cee Lo Green.  I have to admit that prior to seeing him in a soft drink commercial a few months ago, I had no idea that Cee Lo existed.  Once I did see him on that ad, I still had no idea who he was and had no desire to find out why 7-Up decided he was famous enough to represent their product.

My disconnection from popular culture has become disturbingly common.  As I wait in line at the supermarket, my cart packed with plenty of roughage, denture cream and a Valu-Pak of Depends, I glance at the tabloids out of sheer boredom.  The headlines scream for my attention as they always have, but using names I don’t recognize.  Apparently So-and-So has admitted to cheating on What’s-His-Name.  In another blockbuster chunk of news, Whosie Whatsie has gone back into rehab due to her dependence upon drugs which I haven’t even heard of.  While the infidelity and substance abuse issues of people in the public eye shouldn’t be my business to begin with, the fact that I don’t recognize a single name of any of the participants just gnaws at me.  In my heart of hearts, I know that as a good American, I should care about the trials and tribulations of these strangers, but I’ve never heard their songs or seen their movies.  At this point, it seems like too much work to learn who they are so that their addictions have meaning to me.

Besides, gossip and bad news don’t work that way.  You’re supposed to “know” the person first, then be surprised and concerned when you find out about all their problems.  If you know about the star’s crippling dependancy on lethal cocktails of barbituates, stool softeners and bath salts before you even know who they are, it just ruins the whole emotional experience.  It’s like putting the cart before the horse’s ass.

Once upon a time, the tabloids were simpler.  Superstars like Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson and Elvis were in almost every single issue.  Even in death, they showed up.  The formula was simple: take a really famous person with some peculiar lifestyle choices, and speculate about every single aspect of their bizarre lives.  If you had nothing to go with, just make something up.  Many’s the time where Elvis was resurrected from the grave and reported to have been sighted working at a mini-mart in rural Arkansas.  Michael Jackson giving you a slow week?  No problem, he can be abducted by aliens.  When Liz Taylor and Michael got together, the stories wrote themselves.

Now people who aren’t even through the 9th minute of their 15 minutes of fame are already all over the gossip rags.   I saw an article about a woman who had done something stupid.  For the life of me, I couldn’t begin to figure out who or what this woman was.  She may have been a singer, an actress or the newly discovered wife of North Korea’s President for Life.

Fortunately, I have a bevvy of younger, hipper people working around me who I can refer my questions to.  In a pathetic attempt to try to stay in touch, I approached one of my coworkers for info.

“Who the hell is {insert name here}?” I asked.

“Oh, you know, she’s one of the Real Housewives of {insert locale here}” my colleague answered, looking at me to see if I was seriously even asking that question.  “She’s the one who had the big fight with {insert second name here}.  She threw the {circle appropriate projectile – table / chair / Chihuahua / bottle of Cristal} at her!”

My colleague made a face of expectation, waiting for the light of recognition to flicker on in my ancient eyes.  I tried my best to fake it, closing my eyes as I rolled my head slightly to the side.

“Oh!  Right RIGHT!  The one who threw the thing at the other one!” I said, hoping she’d let this matter drop.

She looked at me with pity, pretending to be unaware that I was lying.

It’s no use, I’ll never keep up with a culture which changes at the speed of Tweets.

I guess I should accept my status and start mowing the lawn in loafers, dark socks and Bermuda shorts.  It’s clearly time to embrace my inner old codger.  I’ll regale anyone who’ll listen with stories about how football used to be a man’s sport, played without gloves or Darth Vader visors.  After all, football season is nearly upon us.  I saw a commercial for the NFL just the other day.

There were shaking pom-poms on the screen.  I waited in eager anticipation to see who was behind them.  I hoped that it was Ann Margaret or maybe Raquel Welch. You can imagine my disgust when the pom-poms dropped to reveal the smiling mug of Cee Lo.