Sunday, January 8, 2017

A son turning 16 brings back old memories

My son turns 16 this week, a fact which evokes in me a level of sentimentality I have not felt since the final episode of M*A*S*H*.

I remember being 16, but only vaguely, like I also remember seeing "Apocalypse Now," but I can't remember why the natives had to hack up that water buffalo. I was 16 in an era when society wanted you to drive so much, your counselor literally called you out of class to the office to sign you up for Drivers Ed. An era when "texting" somebody meant throwing your math book at their head.

When I was 16, the first "Star Wars" came out. Our minds were blown, but soon they were unblown by repeated viewings of "Happy Days" and "The Love Boat." We learned about romance by sneaking into "Saturday Night Fever," which temporarily damaged our judgment to the point we thought men singing in falsetto for entire songs was "boss."

When I was a teenager, my first priority was avoiding looking uncool. I didn't have to look cool, but I definitely couldn't look uncool. I know. It seems like it would be either one or the other, but there was a grey area where Schrodinger's cat lived.

The thing you can't know at 16 is what you will regret. One day my dad drove me home after a track meet. I was still in my maroon tank top and shiny shorts. He suggested we stop off for a milk shake. I imagined the looks from the other customers, thinking aww, how cute, a daddy out with his boy. Adorable.

Adorable was not cool. I told my dad no, I'm good, let's just go home. I will never forget his look of incredulity. I remember hoping he did not guess that I did not want to be seen with him. I was all grown up, you understand.

My dad died a decade ago, and you can't imagine how much I'd give for one more milk shake with him. My son is not like I was. He appears to be unconcerned with cool entirely, and would no more turn down a shake with his old man than he would turn off his phone during daylight hours.

His generation gets criticized, but I think if it can just come up with something approaching "music," it will be pretty cool.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, man, you personify Oldie but Goodie with this column! You bring a whole new meaning to 'Shake it!"