there'll be time enough for indie rockin when we're old


Though apparently anallergic to hippies, patchouli oil, and huge puddles of mud, my friend Kristina has a severe reaction to mosquito bites. This came up at Dustin's house, and, like a grandpa, I told Kristina that mosquitoes liked her because she was so sweet.

"What are we even going to be like as grandparents?" pondered Kristen. It was a fair question. Both Kristen and I are (not-so-)hipsters, and as such tend to be restrained in our appreciation of things, always remaining slightly-too-cool for even our favorites. We realize that there is social credibility to be acquired in seeking out music, clothing, and entertainment that one actively despises. We wonder if anyone else kind of thinks Cat Power sucks.

This is in contrast to my grandmother, who will talk with enthusiasm on a myriad of subjects she's passionate about, from gardening to dogs to how Daniel Day-Lewis could stop by her house anytime and that would be just fine. Grandma also mentions her age at the conclusion of all of these stories. "How many other 72 year-old women who could weed an entire garden on a 97-degree day?" she'll challenge us. "Do you know any other ones?" She's delighted by her cell phone, her tattoos, and visiting Branson, Missouri.

Besides buying my grandkids ugly clothes to wear, what would I do as a grandparent? If my current path is walking away from the mainstream in an ironic t-shirt and a zip-up hoodie, I could be a mega-hipster in fifty years or so. By the time I'm old I'll be driving to my children's houses in a ramshackle VW bug, wearing a bright yellow raincoat and flip-flops. The radio will be on, blaring calliope music as I pull into the driveway. I'll embrace my grandchildren and one will ask, "Why are you wearing that enormous sombrero, Grandpa Sean?" With a bored look I'll explain. "Because I hate it."

Will our offspring rebel against us with sincerity and genuine behavior, to counter our geriatric, too-cool-for-old-school attitudes? Or maybe, I'm not giving grandparents enough credit for the ultimate super-hipsters they truly are. After all, I have CDs by Wesley Willis, a street singer with chronic schizophrenia. That's pretty hip. However, my grandmother has decorated her house with art made by elementary school students for nearly fifty years! Way hipper. My sister went to see Big Bad Voodoo Daddy in concert while she was in college. My grandfather was listening to swing music back in the '40s. He must have looked at Jon Favreau with disdain, thinking to himself what a bunch of poseurs twenty year-old swing dancers were. I probably don't even have to mention how far ahead of the thrift stores he was when it came to vintage clothing.

A Chinese company is cybersquatting, and I think with good reason. Once they truly embrace the internet, those senior hipsters will be unstoppable, though some will probably hold out for the Google community version of Oldster, or continue to focus on early bird specials instead. I just hope they don't leave the old/hipster bar set too high when I get there, or I may have to add clown shoes to my future grandpa ensemble. Or learn to whittle.


your sincere description of our insincerity made my head explode. gooey.

Funny thing is, my grandpa *does* say that mosquitos like me because I'm sweet. Perhaps it's not that you're going to be a hip grandpa someday but that you're already a "grandpa" at heart, which is a totally good thing. What I dig about grandpas is that they're old and wise to the point of not having to really care about stuff like disciplining their grandchildren and being productive all the damned time so they can focus on the important things in life like sending grandkids punny birthday cards and annoyingly noisy toys that will drive your adult children insane, golfing, reading massive novels and perfecting your crossword puzzle skills. I think grandparents can be cool, just not in the same ways that we think of as "cool" now; you just have to find things you have in common. I love doing super hard crosswords with my grandpa (a fellow Almquist word-nerd) and drinking white wine spritzers with grandma while raiding her attic and basement for cool, old family heirlooms and photos and talking about her high school hijinks. Our grandkids will undoubtedly think we're old-fashioned and tragically un-hip, but if we remember how to have fun they'll dig us and have to admit that at least we were cool in our day... as long as you don't have a graying ponytail, that is.

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This page contains a single entry by Sean Keane published on August 19, 2004 10:09 PM.

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