Pass the Controller, Kid: Sanjuro Gets Old

My friend Phil has brought me to Best Buy because he's TV shopping and needs moral support. I've never felt entirely comfortable providing this crutch for Phil, because the rate at which the guy buys electronics rivals the rate of growth of Imelda Marcos' shoe collection in the 80s. Where the money comes from, I don't know. Phil is either deriving nutrition from his PSP and Ipod, or he's doing inappropriate things for money a la the I've-seen-better-days Dirk Diggler towards the end of Boogie Nights; either way I figure this is none of my business.

Phil's got a plasma TV at home that I would kill for, but he's brought me to Best Buy ranting about some new television set that he must investigate. I've abandoned my Jiminy Cricket role and left Phil to his own devices while I kill time on the demo Xbox, thoughtfully loaded with Halo 2 and mounted in front of a mated set of recliners, each one rivaling my Civic in size. It's not long before a handful of kids show up, looking to take me on in Halo.

Right away, the kids establish themselves as pretty OK in my book. They call me "Mister", which is bemusing at first but eventually endearing. They can discuss the finer points of Halo pretty intelligently. But I can't stop looking at their polo shirt collars. They're all turned up. I don't get it.

After a while, the banter turns from Halo weapon combos to music, and then from music to skateboarding. They use slang words I've never heard. I am Polybius in Rome. I can understand what's going on, but I don't understand it. I think about when the last time I watched MTV was. I can't remember.

The screen goes black in-between rounds and it reflects me flanked by all of these kids, probably ten years my junior, with their collars turned up. The only thing I can intelligently discuss with these guys is games.

I never anticipated growing old. There was no denying that I was going to age, of course, but I had never thought I would get old the way my dad did: ostentatiously, infuriatingly old. Putting in ear plugs before taking me to a Def Leppard concert when I was twelve or stubbornly insisting on wearing a fanny pack in public for the sake of "convenience". I was always damn sure that I was going to be able to resist this sort of social degeneration. I dressed well, listened to hip hop, carefully and deliberately styled my hair so that it looked unstyled and developed a cultured disdain for department stores. I had made myself impervious to aging.

Somehow, in spite of my entrenchment in the cool camp, the lines had shifted beneath me. At some point, an all-hands memo was sent out informing the youth to flip up their collars and I totally missed it. The down-turned collar was my fanny pack, my coolness Waterloo.

My father and I can talk politics and money all day, but for entertainment, we can talk X-Com. Or Civilization. When I tell the kids here at Best Buy that they're wasting their time with the pistol and SMG when I've got a battle rifle, they're relating to me the way I relate to my pops. The way my dad can't relate to his dad, who in his old age can only discuss his latest health deficiency and who aspires to no higher form of entertainment than Off-Track Betting. So as Phil strolls over to where we are, I am left with a consolation prize for my defeat at the hands of time; games are the great generational equalizer. As long as I am a nerd, I have a conduit to my youth.

The kids notice Phil approach, and ask him if he's any good. Phil jerks a thumb in my direction. "I'm better than him. But if I beat you, you gotta flip your goddamn collars down."

Comments

I saw mobs of Brits last year wearing their football jerseys (which had collars??) with the collars turned up. I thought it peculiar, but then, my favourite sweater is an old Norwegian grandfather job.

Oh crap. I AM getting old...

Anyone for a drink?

Couple things:

1) It's been long enough since the last time you watched MTV to have missed the shift in the number of people actually really watching MTV rather than just having it on as background noise that no one really cares about. No one listens to MTV for the music, anymore.

2) Keep your eyes peeled for ESPN - the X-Games are starting, so learn your skateboarding lingo.

Loganrapp wrote:

2) Keep your eyes peeled for ESPN - the X-Games are starting, so learn your skateboarding lingo.

I used to skate as a kid, and I keep casual tabs on the sport, but I had no clue who 90% of the pro skaters these kids were talking about were.

Razorgrin wrote:
LupusUmbrus wrote:

Still hoping that as I get older I'll manage to keep from being judgmental of youth and pop cultural trends, but I'm anything but "in touch" anymore.

I think we all do, to an extent. I sort of hope that by the time I have kids, I won't be so out-of-touch that they'll just roll their eyes and say "Dad, you just don't get it." I assume, however, that such a fate awaits me. ::shrugs:: If nothing else, I'll always be able to tell them about the 'good ol' days,' when consoles had 8-bit graphics and the bleeding edge of PC technology was a 486 33MHz processor.

Oh, you'll get the not getting it thing.
And to make it worse, when you tell 'em about the good old days, they won't know what a console is, what a bit is, what a megahertz is or why there were 486 of them.
That's assuming they hear anything after "I remember..." before tuning you out and playing VRQuakeXXVII in their holoroom. Or fall asleep from boredom.

Viking wrote:
Podunk wrote:
Fletcher1138 wrote:

Wow. How odd. I used to wear my polo shirts with the collar turned up. In 1985.

I did the same thing. Weird.

Yeah, I was going to say, I think I've got an old picture or two laying around from my high-school days with the ol' upturned collar. We'll just put that right up there with bellbottoms as a fad that shouldn't come back (though it apparently has ;)).

See, the best way to handle this is to have a few pictures of yourself in your wallet from various stages of child-teen-hood.
It's not nearly as cool to turn up your collar when you are confronted with glaring evidence that old people have "been there, done that" before you were even born. DuckiDeva likes starting memes.... I live to kill them.

No one listens to MTV for the music, anymore.

There's music on MTV? When did they bring that back?

I just recently noticed the 'upturned collers' fad as well.

You notice one then all of a sudden alll the kids are wearing their shirts that way. Weird...

Well, at least I can still beat all the kids in my house at any game

/me hastily pops his collar and tries to air out his Members Only jacket to get the mothball smell out.

Fun article Sanj, you whippersnapper! Why, in my day, we would have forced them to play Pong until their collars drooped with humilation...you kids and your newfangled comfy chairs. I've recently caught myself telling young men to pull their pants up, because I really don't need to see prepubescent crotch or butt crack, thank you very much. One incident, at an eating establishment, a young man standing near where I was eating, with his pants down near his knees and his abercrombie manties flying his colors, stuck his hand down the front of his pants, as though to check and see if Mr. Happy was still attached. I was so grossed out, and told him that the last thing I needed was teenage pubes in my salad, and if he could go wash his hands before he touched anything, the world would be a nicer place. He had the courtesy to look embarassed and went off to the boy's room, and his mother had the audacity to look at me and say "Kids, what can you do?" to which I replied..."I suppose raising them to be civilized humans is too much to ask, is it?" She sort of laughed nervously and shuffled towards the front of the coffee counter to get away.

Alien13z wrote:

As for upturned collars, if they are back in style, which I certainly wasn't aware of, this would mark the second time in my life that has been the case.

Me too.

Fletcher1138 wrote:

Wow. How odd. I used to wear my polo shirts with the collar turned up. In 1985.

Yep. I dated guys dressed thusly. I wore the black leather punk look. And I was cool dammit! I don't care if I had a Joan Jett mullet. I was still cool baby, yeah.

My favorite outfit from 1985, Deva: Pink Lacrosse polo (collar turned up of course) with grey parachute pants. I was hot sh*t, baby. Maybe we went out.

Fletcher1138 wrote:

My favorite outfit from 1985, Deva: Pink Lacrosse polo (collar turned up of course) with grey parachute pants. I was hot sh*t, baby. Maybe we went out.

I was taking sh*ts in diapers.

Fletcher1138 wrote:

My favorite outfit from 1985, Deva: Pink Lacrosse polo (collar turned up of course) with grey parachute pants. I was hot sh*t, baby. Maybe we went out.

Wouldn't that be the funniest thing ever? I once dated a guy who wore an outfit similar. Did you make a habit of dating snarling girls with spiky hair, leather jackets and souped up cars?

Edwin wrote:

I was taking sh*ts in diapers.

Well then, I think we can assume that neither Fletch nor I dated *you*. Hee.

I would hope so! No offense Fetch, as soft as your hair may be for a nice pillow I dont swing that way.

duckideva wrote:

Wouldn't that be the funniest thing ever? I once dated a guy who wore an outfit similar. Did you make a habit of dating snarling girls with spiky hair, leather jackets and souped up cars? ;)

Actually, no. I dated nice girls.

duckideva wrote:

Fun article Sanj, you whippersnapper! Why, in my day, we would have forced them to play Pong until their collars drooped with humilation...you kids and your newfangled comfy chairs. I've recently caught myself telling young men to pull their pants up, because I really don't need to see prepubescent crotch or butt crack, thank you very much. One incident, at an eating establishment, a young man standing near where I was eating, with his pants down near his knees and his abercrombie manties flying his colors, stuck his hand down the front of his pants, as though to check and see if Mr. Happy was still attached. I was so grossed out, and told him that the last thing I needed was teenage pubes in my salad, and if he could go wash his hands before he touched anything, the world would be a nicer place. He had the courtesy to look embarassed and went off to the boy's room, and his mother had the audacity to look at me and say "Kids, what can you do?" to which I replied..."I suppose raising them to be civilized humans is too much to ask, is it?" She sort of laughed nervously and shuffled towards the front of the coffee counter to get away.

There is no way that this story doesn't have some creative fiction elements.

duckideva wrote:
Fletcher1138 wrote:

My favorite outfit from 1985, Deva: Pink Lacrosse polo (collar turned up of course) with grey parachute pants. I was hot sh*t, baby. Maybe we went out.

Wouldn't that be the funniest thing ever? I once dated a guy who wore an outfit similar. Did you make a habit of dating snarling girls with spiky hair, leather jackets and souped up cars?

Edwin wrote:

I was taking sh*ts in diapers.

Well then, I think we can assume that neither Fletch nor I dated *you*. Hee.

Depending how far into 85 we're talking here, I still didn't even know I could sh*t.

Kids from public (private boarding) schools in the UK often wear their collars up. It's also a thing associated with 'preppy' types at universities here.

I went to this party last night, not really sure where it was cause I was totally out of my mind drunk, but my buddy drove me there. Saw a few kids with the upturned collars and said out loud "Man, I gotta post this on GWJ!",

Fletcher1138 wrote:

My favorite outfit from 1985, Deva: Pink Lacrosse polo (collar turned up of course) with grey parachute pants. I was hot sh*t, baby. Maybe we went out.

I was sportin black parachute pants (which btw, never wear while sitting on concrete bleachers) and the ultra rare black and white Coca-Cola rugby shirt.

Yes, there was a year (84 or 85 I think) where everyone went ape sh*t over freakin Coca Cola rugby shirts, that came in an assortment of colors, and nobody else, that I knew anyway, had the black and white one.

I am definetly turning into an ol Crotchety Ferret, music these days = crap, and even more infuriating is that 80s music is now "Classic" and my little snot nose inlaws think they are the first ones to discover Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin or Hendrix.

Bah Humbug!

I had two or three of those rugby shirts, ferret. I looked cool as sh*t in them too. Oh yeah! Pair of gigantic BK high tops, untied, with the trouser cuffs of my 501s pinned together anti-flare style. Ooh baby. I was a sex machine.

But you're right. I didn't see anybody with a black and white one. You for teh bad eighties style fad win1

*puts on reading glasses to read this damn article* I turn 40 next year. Had to get reading glasses this year due to being far sighted and working in the computer industry. At some point in my life, I went from looking at the young scantily clad young ladies to wondering what I would tell my daughter to keep her from going out dressed like that. I guess that was my Waterloo.

My public education didn't/doesn't allow me to know what a Polybius is or was.

At some point in my life, I went from looking at the young scantily clad young ladies to wondering what I would tell my daughter to keep her from going out dressed like that. I guess that was my Waterloo.

The answer is, don't say anything. Post pictures here instead!

Great article and I also saw turned up collars at best buy. I thought it was funny and laughed at them.

Lobo wrote:

You worked Polybius into an article, and did it with style. I think I'm in love.

Not only that, he worked Dirk Diggler in there with the appropriate seediness. Good work once again, Sanjuro!

I'm right there with the rest of you who have lived through the flipped-up collar trend twice. After reading your 80's memories I have this urge to get a spiral perm and put on lots of purple eyeshadow. But I'll refrain for now.

Just got around to reading the article, Sanj, it's great.

As long as I am a nerd, I have a conduit to my youth.

=classic

I'm 32 in a week. Comparing myself to the youngsters in terms of fashion sense and general cultural hipness might be a little depressing, until I look around at my peers. I'm surrounded by clueless, soulless thirtysomethings who've learned to eschew anything that engages their imagination in even the slightest manner in favor of I don't know what.

I'd sooner step in front of a train then lose the sense of wonder and appreciation of creativity that informed and directed my childhood. I feel sorry for adults that don't play games.