Does this iPhone come with a downgrade?
On being old when life is young
Nary a second since the name left my lips when my grandmother corrected me, saying, “Kate dear. It’s pronounced Fiddy Cent.”
There comes a point in every girl’s life when she realizes she is no longer current. For many women, this point comes when their children begin to pepper conversation with unfamiliar acronyms. For others, it comes when they realize they spout out certain phrases with the exact intonation as their mothers.
Generally speaking, the hope is to stay current as long as possible before relinquishing your “hip” status to the hip-hugging comfort of mom jeans. I would guestimate most women aim to stay current at least until they approach 40, at which point it becomes acceptable to replace one’s People subscription with Women’s Daily — though the triennial royal family beat does keep many clinging to the former with great optimism for remaining in the loop.
This tumultuous transition out of being hip begins at different points for different women. My mother’s cool factor disappeared, in my eyes, when I realized the frequency with which she said “groovy” or “jiggy with it” to relay her approval of my decisions. My best friend Ellen experienced a similar sinking embarrassment when, during Usher’s half-time performance a few Superbowl cycles ago, her mother glanced at the name on the screen and asked, “Who is U.S. Her? Demi Moore’s child?”
Some women are more shamelessly outdated than others.
Unfortunately, I seem to be an early bloomer. No, not in the sense I was the first of my friends to acquire a training bra — rather quite the opposite. What I mean is my collective coolness dried up before I even hit that stage. Not only is this disheartening in hindsight — I realize most women hold out until at least 30 in the most desperate of cases — but also because my regression began just when I needed my mojo the most: the tumultuous decade of my tweens and teens.
It happened when I was referring in passing to rapper 50 Cent, as many young people did in the year 2005. Naturally, the conversation occurred with my grandmother, who — unbeknownst to me — was quite familiar with this man, myth and legend. Nary a second since the name left my lips when my grandmother corrected me, saying, “Kate dear. It’s pronounced Fiddy Cent.”
Yes, the coolness well ran dry — all this occurring when I was still yet to experience the three Bs: braces, boobs and boys. I’m still waiting on the central piece, but that’s neither here nor there.
I have been reminded of my deep-seeded space cadet status about once weekly since that fated day. I continue to wonder if Brangelina is (are?) married, and still often refer to them as Brennifer.
Moving beyond the realm of high-life celebrities, I can’t even seem to stay current with the technological evolution of my own generation. On the whole, I have successfully veiled my lack of social media knowledge — though I’ve already encountered the uncomfortable conversation with the Verizon clerk clarifying that yes, I want to downgrade and not upgrade my iPhone.
But there comes a point in time where I can no longer manage to conceal my inattention to the ways of modern women. Case and point: while walking up Rugby yesterday afternoon, I noticed a young woman walking her dog. I thought it was a lovely thing on such a lovely day to walk one’s dog, only to notice this gal was talking, with great animation, to no one in particular. I chuckled and thought of my mother, who also talks to the dog, and felt a bit of smug pride in noting my mom, at least, doesn’t dog-talk in public.
To clarify, these are not the Scooby-Doo-voice one-liners — this was a full on conversation. As I approached the loony lady, I prepared to say my hello and end this poor woman of her embarrassment — only to find my wave was not reciprocated and, much to my chagrin, she was taking a phone call through her headphones. Kate: zero, dog-talker: one.
As I have humbly admitted before, I am behind the curve. I thought walking the dog was a time to enjoy serendipitous run-ins and the burn of a deep inhale of cold air, but evidently it’s for plugging in and shutting out.
Maybe I clamor for a less-techie social life that’s dead and gone. But if anyone knows a way to resurrect this old lifestyle, please find me and let me know. I’ll be waiting in the mom jeans/halter top section of Goodwill.
Kate’s column runs biweekly Thursdays. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.