Last night we went up to San Dimas to a favorite haunt, a country bar with a huge dance floor and canned music. The head charge is a mere five bucks and the drinks are cheap. Another couple showed up at nine-ish and we shared a table at the edge of the dance floor.
Now generally, we’re outta there rarely later than 9:30, having arrived two hours earlier, but with the arrival of our friends, we stayed until 11. It was revealing.
Back in the day, one hour before midnight was the shank of the evening, with another two hours-plus to go. I would arrive at 8:30 and git perhaps a half-hour before the house lights came on — this to preserve the illusion of rock ‘n roll going on forever. Now, of course, those of us who can claim Boomer status prefer an earlier, lighter schedule.
Staying those extra couple of hours last night, however, meant rubbing shoulders — almost literally — with ourselves, one generation (and more) removed.
Kids. Kids who carry their drinks everywhere. Rude kids. Loud kids. Overbearing kids. Kids who have suddenly decided that true adulthood has been secured, along with ownership of their known world.
Sure, it sounds like us, 40 years ago, and it makes you wonder: Were we really that obnoxious and that clueless?
With the obvious advantage of hindsight, there has always been, and always will be, a generation gap, and the four of us at the table last night were aware of it, coming and going. I wouldn’t go so far as to say there was resentment, at least on our part. But the difference in ages — I’d say some 30 years or more — was uncomfortable, with a strained feeling of being in a much younger crowd. Sure, we soldiered on as we made our way around an increasingly dense dance floor, but more and more the pace seemed faster and faster, moving away from “us” and toward “them.”
A couple of decades ago, a crowd like that would have been very much to my liking. Now it really isn’t. And more to the point, what I experienced suggests that the priorities we once had have changed — the whole business of social dynamics, of self, of conquest. By contrast, you like to think that a less demanding perspective is a bona fide indicator of growth, that a couple of drinks with friends and tour or two around the dance floor is all it really is. Then to the parking lot and home with a comparatively clear head.