Sunday, October 04, 2009

Smells like Middle-Aged Spirit

As my father-in-law and I drove towards our house during their recent visit, a horrible thing happened. I had been absent-mindedly fiddling with the radio dial, not really paying attention to the road, when I settled on the classic rock station, its primary virtue being that it wasn’t blaring any Hyundai commercials or playing that country song that goes, “I love your love the most.”

Then all of a sudden, seemingly out of nowhere, a Nirvana song came on. I nearly swerved off the road as I double-checked the station.

“There must be some mistake. The classic rock station is playing a song that came out while I was in high school,” I said.

My father-in-law laughed. “It only gets worse from here. Just wait until it starts showing up on the oldies station,” he said.

And I wondered if someday I might find myself sitting in my motorized recliner, eating shaved carrots with raisins mixed in, playing “Smells like Teen Spirit” for my grandkids as they fidget in their seats the way I used to do when Grandpa put on the Lawrence Welk Show.

“Everybody started wearing flannel shirts after this song came out,” I’ll tell them.

“That’s great, Grandpa,” they’ll say.

“It was back in the summer of 1994 when I saw my first mosh pit…” I’ll begin, not noticing that they’ve left the room.

My advancing age became even more apparent last weekend, as I picked up the phone to check in with my parents on Saturday night.

“They won’t be home. They have social lives,” my wife Kara said as she burped our son Evan.

Oh, the indignity of having parents who are cooler than you. It was already bad enough with my dad being a better dancer than me at weddings.

Fortunately, as we think about dipping our toes into the shallow end of middle age, Kara and I are doing so with a child who has actually started letting us sleep some at night. But we’ve found that having a good baby is a lot like having a well-trained werewolf. You still have your hands full.

Though we’re starting to become more comfortable with venturing out into the germ-addled world with Evan, for the past few months, Kara and I have basically been tag-team wrestlers, with only one of us allowed into the ring at a time (the ring being anywhere but our house). I’ll walk in the door, we’ll high-five and she’ll be off.

“We’re like the people in Ladyhawke,” I said recently.

“What’s that?” she asked.

“This dude and Michele Pfeiffer were in love, but he turned into a wolf at night and she turned into a hawk during the day so they could never be together. Matthew Broderick was in it. It’s a movie from when we were kids,” I said.

“Maybe from when you were a kid. I’m not sure I was born yet,” Kara replied, noting for the first time (that day) that she is two-and-a-half years my junior, and reveling in the last few months of her twenties.

The point here is that more people should catch Ladyhawke references, if only because it is one of the top three Rutger Hauer movies of all time, right up there with Omega Doom and Hostile Waters, two movies that I’ve never heard of, either.

While there’s not much point in worrying about getting old, I’ve found that it is a pursuit that can keep you entertained pretty much as long as you’d like.

In any event, when your wife turns thirty, aren’t you supposed to try to get a younger one then? Or was it forty? I have to check our vows to see if we said anything about that.

You can push Mike Todd into the mosh pit at


  1. Dude, Ladyhawke rocked!....wait, if I like it, it must suck. Tango and Cash is my favorite movie behind Over The Top.

  2. Dude, those are both FANTASTIC movies. Nothing better than an armwresting Stalone trying to win a semi. Anyway, I was really hoping the trade in age was 30. That's just around the corner for me.

  3. Um, the werewolf analogy made me snarf my drink. I have several friends that have concured this fact of child rearn'. Classic. I will unashamedly plagerize. I have passed on the trade-in for a "younger model" option in lieu of working the "really fast car" angle. Wish me luck.

  4. 40 is the new 30. You have some time.