A couple days ago, Jill at Feministe directed my attention to this deeply unfortunate column by Dennis Prager predicting doom and gloom as a result of millions of young American voters getting excited about Barack Obama. Now, we can argue over the actual thesis of Prager's column, i.e. that "when youth get involved in politics in large numbers, it is not a good thing," which obviously I think is utter baloney. But the more offensive aspect of the column, to me, was that it obviously wasn't intended to convince or persuade any of these wayward youngsters, it was basically written only to call them naive idiots. See, there's a right way and a wrong way to talk to the under-25 crowd, and "withering condescension" really doesn't get it done; as I said in the comments thread to that Feministe post, it's fine to try to portray oneself as a wise adult when dealing with young people, but when you explicitly and unironically refer to yourself as "a wise adult" in doing so, you might as well be wearing a FEEL FREE TO IGNORE ME T-shirt.
So completely irrespective of whatever political point Prager was trying to make, he basically painted an intricately detailed portrait of exactly the kind of cranky, self-satisfied douche I don't want to turn into as I hit middle age. Actually, turning 30 has inspired me to think about a lot of things I don't want to turn into as I get older, the kind of behaviors that, were I to engage in them, would be a pretty clear indication that my useful time on this planet is up and it's time to just put me away peacefully. With that in mind, this week's +5 is Five Things That, If I Start Doing Them In My Old Age, You Have Permission To Euthanize Me. Obviously I'd prefer a fairly quick and painless exit, but under certain circumstances that I'll outline below, you have permission to take some liberties. Here we go:
Wearing socks with sandals/flip-flops
I have friends in their thirties who do this, and it never ceases to boggle my mind. I’m hardly a fashion expert, but even I’m smart enough to know that if you really feel that bad a need to wear socks, you need to be wearing actual shoes.
Upgrade death from "quick and painless" to "slow and agonizing" if: The socks in question are black.
Owning a car with whitewall tires
Whitewall tires are the automotive equivalent of segregated water fountains — somehow they seemed completely appropriate back in the 1940s, but that’s no reason to have them now. I remember when my dad and I went to the Chrysler dealer to buy my mom a Grand Voyager minivan back in 1993; my mom was a fan of the “wood”grain paneling you could get on those vans at the time, so my dad checked it off on the options list, but it turns out the woodgrain came as part of an options package that also included whitewall tires and wire wheel covers. “Stop right there,” I said. “If you put all this stuff on her car, there’s no way in hell I’m going to be seen in public in it.” The dealer graciously offered to delete those while keeping the woodgrain, and a grave automotive fashion offense was averted.
Upgrade death from “quick and painless” to “slow and agonizing” if: The car also has a padded vinyl roof.
Eating dinner before 5 p.m. (excepting major holidays)
This always makes me think of the “Seinfeld” episode where Jerry went down to visit his parents at Del Boca Vista and present them with a new Cadillac, and they insisted on dragging everyone to dinner at 4:30 so they could make it in time for the “early-bird special.” (Thus spawning Jerry’s immortal reply “I'm not force-feeding myself a steak at four-thirty to save a coupla bucks, I'll tell you that!”) In Europe, they eat dinner at eight or nine, sometimes even later; if you’re so desperate to eat dinner that you can’t wait past five, you need to be treating yourself to a bigger lunch.
Upgrade death from "quick and painless" to "slow and agonizing" if: The early meal is scheduled specifically to save an amount of money totaling less than $10.00.wik
Driving below the posted speed limit in light traffic
Last time I went home to Columbus for the weekend, I surprised myself by actually driving the speed limit as opposed to 10 or 15 over — saving gas and all that. But even $5-a-gallon gas isn’t enough to make me drive 55 on the Interstate.
Upgrade death from "quick and painless" to "slow and agonizing" if: I'm riding in someone else's car and tell them they're going too fast.
Criticizing the clothes that younger people are wearing
I reserve the right to criticize the music that teenagers are listening to; I've been hating mainstream radio pop since I was in high school. But griping about the clothes that "the kids" are wearing is a pretty clear sign that you're sledding down the slippery slope into old-codgerhood. Now, if people my own age are wearing it -- Crocs or tramp stamps, for example -- then it's fair game.
Upgrade death from "quick and painless" to "slow and agonizing" if: I make the specific criticism that the outfit in question is too revealing. By the time I turn 60 or 70, leering at slutty-looking 19-year-olds might be as much action as I can get, so I need to enjoy it while I can, you know?
And now the Ten:
1. De La Soul, "Magic Number"
2. James Brown, "Papa Don't Take No Mess"
3. Röyksopp, "Alpha Male"
4. The Beastie Boys, "Sure Shot"
5. Radiohead, "High and Dry"
6. Pet Shop Boys, "Between Two Islands"
7. Pet Shop Boys, "Dreaming of the Queen"
8. Air, "All I Need"
9. The Dust Brothers, "Marla"
10. Massive Attack, "Hymn of the Big Wheel"
Now it's your turn, whippersnappers -- your Random Tens, and various old-age fears, go in the comments.