Monday, November 4, 2013 know you're old when...

Bill Clinton called me last night. Okay, so it was one of those automated political calls, urging me to vote for our local Democratic candidate, but still, I’m going with Bill Clinton called me last night.

He was sure to remind me that we were neighbors, live in the same county. Personally, I think the neighborly thing to do would be for him to bake me a pie, but okay, I’ll go with the phone call because he’s kind of a busy guy.

Ah, Bill – my president. I remember when he took office. It seems like lifetimes ago and worlds away. We weren’t at war, I slept nights, and there was this word they used called “surplus” that has vanished altogether from our lexicon in the past thirteen years. We had a middle class…and dreams. Ah yes, I remember dreams.

So that got me thinking – and hear me out on this – I’m getting old. And sure, this could be evidenced by my Amazon wish list including things like “The Essential James Taylor” and Eva Cassidy’s “Songbird,” instead of One Direction and Katy Perry, but I also had this little incident at the Apple store this weekend.

I brought in my iPod Nano to be fixed. I made an appointment to bring it to what is rather optimistically called “The Genius Bar” at the Apple store. The Genius Bar, which contains neither geniuses nor libations, so talk amongst yourselves about that one, was manned by what could best be described as a bunch of pimply-faced teenagers. And I mean no disrespect to the dermatologically challenged when I say that. That is just what they looked like to me.

I couldn’t remember what year I got the nano. To me, it’s still kind of a new-fangled gizmo. (And my use of both “new-fangled” and “gizmo” should tell you something right there.) No worries. The kid geniuses could look it up. 2006. Okay, not so bad, I’m thinking to myself. Seven years old.

So kid genius #1 informs me that the only thing he could do is basically uninstall and reinstall the updated software for it, effectively wiping out everything that’s on there. I pretend to a) understand him, and b) hope he actually knows how to do what he’s just, a little too tentatively, explained to me.

He plugs my trusty iPod into his Mac computer. I’m wondering just how old he actually is. He looks confused. Something’s not working right. He asks genius #2 standing next to him for help. Genius #2 can’t help him, so he tries genius #3. All geniuses are marveling at my iPod Nano. One of them says, “I’ve never seen one of these before.” I start doing the math. If this genius is really a teenager, then he would have been in elementary school when I got my iPod Nano. Talk about a real buzz-kill.

Finally, my very own genius realizes that the current software is incompatible with the old iPod. Why? Because Apple would like me to buy a new iPod. Seriously???!!!

He offers to set me up with my very own sales associate to look at the new iPods. I want to point out that my Sony Walkman cassette player from the 80’s still works just fine, but I know that reference would be the equivalent of caveman etchings to him. So I go off with the sales associate before leaving the Apple store with nothing but the iPod Nano with which I came.

I text a friend, who finds my whole experience funny. (And don’t I get youthful points for texting?)

“How does it feel to be over 40?” he teases, not knowing exactly how old I am. I contemplate telling him I wouldn’t know, but that cracks even me up.

I start thinking about the geniuses again. I’ve had headaches that lasted longer than some of them have been alive.

I get a little melancholy about how I miss the warmth of analog, the crackle of the 33, the days before autotune, when singers had to be able to actually sing, by golly. And I thank God that Barbra Streisand and Celine Dion didn’t have to twerk.

I wonder how we miraculously reached adulthood riding our bikes without helmets and knee pads. And how our precious little psyches survived everyone not getting a trophy but the one who legitimately earned it. And by the way, when the hell did men start waxing off all their chest hair? Call me crazy, I don’t find it sexy.

Then Bill Clinton called. (I know, questionable segue after the chest hair comment, but what the hell.) I reveled for a second in the familiarity of his voice, of the time his presidency represented to me, before 9/11, when we lived in blissful ignorance, oblivious to any potential peril lurking, believing in the promise of a brighter tomorrow.

I realize that Bill Clinton took office twenty-one years ago, and because Election Day is tomorrow, I’m, perhaps, a bit more reflective than usual. I am, at heart, a dreamer. And so I still believe that our best days are ahead of us, that we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, and that love is indeed the only sane, rational, and sustainable choice there is.

Thanks for stopping by. And old or young, please tell your friends.

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