We all know on a basic, logical level that we age and that 16-year-olds in general are always going to be 16-year-olds. But the older you get, the more you're going to lose touch with those kids. Or 18-year-olds. Or 21-year-olds. And you don't even need to be a pederast to feel the sting of still thinking, in your head, that you have something in common because you remember being 21 and then realizing when you foolishly try to make conversation with a teenager because you're both waiting for a bus together that you literally have nothing in common. That kid doesn't listen to the same music, watch the same shows or even use the same slang as you, you skeepy old bung shucker.
In your head you're the same person you always were, you're likeable enough, you're cool, you're picking up what everyone is putting down. To a high school kid, you're the out-of-touch sex crime that's going to get them on the news.
Only the most dreadfully serious among us, the kids with underbites and bowl haircuts who didn't have time to go to parties because they had to organize their chemistry notes according to covalent bonds, ever grow up to not think they relate to kids in some way. And sure, probably by the time we're in our 40s most of us will have been away from youth culture so long that when we see kids on hoverboards listening to technocountry on an MP9 audio-scrotal implant we'll just shake our heads and sweep our driveways some more, but through your 20s and into your 30s you're still so close to it that it's almost insulting when kids don't think you're cool, because fuck them, you were cool before they were born.
When I was a kid, every summer I would go camping with my parents out in the middle of Bumblefuck Nowhere, and we'd listen to the same CCR tape about a million times. It's not that my parents didn't have other music -- there was a pantsload of what is now known as classic rock, the most recent album of the bunch being AC/DC's Who Made Who (a gift from my older brother). And while now I can appreciate the musical talent of John Fogerty and the boys, as a kid I goddamn hated everyone who was looking out their back door down on the corner.
The thing I didn't realize until I was older, of course, was not that my parents had a fanatical obsession with old-ass music, or even that they had a fanatical obsession with making sure they made use of all five senses to ruin every camping trip we went on together and this was their auditory attack. It was that they were suffering the same temporal retardation I currently suffer from. The same one that is causing me to listen to Guns 'N Roses while I write this article. Seriously, Guns 'N Roses. Is Axl Rose even alive right now? You think he might be, but you don't know for sure because literally no one on earth gives a shit about Axl Rose anymore. He could be in a gutter right now with his tongue, swollen and black from Thunderbird, serving as nothing more than fertilizer for various mosses.
A sad fact of growing up is that you lose time. You work, you raise a family, you have to grunt and rock a little to get out of bed in the mornings, costing you precious seconds of life that, in your youth, you spent listening to cool new music. Well there's no time for cool new music when you have to put on a uniform and make copies of budget wedding invites for people at Staples 30 hours a week. So when you finally get around to buying a secondhand iPod mini, you fill that thing with music from CDs you bought in 1997.
The music that makes you think of fun and awesome times is all stuck in the past with your fun and awesome times. Worse yet, when you have fun and awesome times now, because being an adult didn't kill you or anything, you only play that same old music because that's what makes you think of fun times and that's why, when you're 90 having a party at your moon cabin, your grandkids are going to be quietly cursing out the Milli Vanilli album you put on.
For more of Dan's celebrity insight, check out 6 Fake Foods You (Will Wish You Didn't) Have in Your Kitchen and 7 Safety Products (for the Incredibly Paranoid).
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