All right, let's get this over with for another year. It's my birthday. I am 33 years old, today, March 6th. At what age do we stop caring about our birthday? At what age do we hope others will, too? I didn't used to be like this. I used to be an attention starved, ham it up, spotlight seeking, dork. Now, I would rather stay home, have a piece of cake and just hope that midnight comes quickly. I mean, shouldn't I be happy that I have survived another year? I shouldn't complain because there are people in this world who didn't make it to my age who would have been quick to trade me places if given the chance. I guess it all comes down to my getting crankier in my years. I used to keep a smooth outlook. I used to see the world through Zen colored glasses. Now, I just want to crawl into a cave and hide. My wife asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday. I said nothing special. I didn't want a huge dinner with all of my family around. It's not that I don't like to visit with family; it's just that I'm lazy and usually the house is wrecked from Tornado Bailey. I don't mind doing a Birthday Dinner out at a restaurant, but I hate to put everyone out of their way driving to meet us. Usually, I like to just go to dinner with my wife at Dave & Busters and then go spend an hour in the arcade. What am I, 33 or 13? I'm a big kid, what can I say? Still, for the life of me I can't believe that I've gotten this cranky at such a young age. I was an actor in college, a regular life of the party on campus, and now I hate to answer the phone or the door for anyone. Somewhere it all went horribly wrong and I think I know where.
I was working at a hotel as a banquet captain around the turn of the century. It sounds like I'm ancient. OK, fine. It was back in 2000. A local high school was setting up for their prom and I had become annoyed with the teeny boppers running around. I was used to my routine working in the hotel. If I set up a room during the day, I would grab the radio from the office and tune it into 102.5FM, the local classic rock station. It would make the time go faster and I felt that I was more productive with the music in the background. It also drowned out the phone in the office which usually disrupted my work in favor of going to another part of the hotel to fix something. This particular day, I was already fed up with the youth of America being....well, youthful. Did my generation act like that when we were in high school? I know I found it a requirement to make an ass out of myself in public, but I hope I at least was being intelligent and not worried about petty issues. Regardless, Don McLean started playing on the radio. If I have to even tell you what song it was, you should stop reading now. Go away. I will seriously turn this place into the Wild Bunch.
Mongo feel better, now.
Anyway, so, the classic anthem of my childhood begins playing on the radio and these girls start singing along word for word. I didn't think much of it until the end of the first stanza when they all got quiet. After the first chorus, they all start up again, singing away like they wrote the damn thing. Then again, after the next chorus, they all got quiet again, looking at each other like, "What the hell? This isn't how it goes." I stopped in my tracks looked at them all and said, "YOU DON'T KNOW THE NEXT VERSE, DO YOU?" They looked at me with a lost look in their eyes. I mumbled something along the lines of, "Damn kids!" and walked off, continuing my work.
You see, in 2000, Madonna released a version of "American Pie" on her Music album. Keeping up with ADD addled youth culture, the lyrics were truncated to accommodate a mere four and a half minute version whereas the original LP has it at eight and a half minutes. However, these kids accepted Madonna's version as the original and thought that the original version was a remake. This is what irks me about the youth of today. I admit I've done it, too. I mistook Manfred Mann's version of "Blinded By the Light" as an original until I heard Springsteen singing it. I was amazed. How did I get this far believing that? But still, both of these versions were released in the 70's. While, Mann's version is better known even though Springsteen is the bigger artist, Don McLean is considered iconic like.....well, like American Pie. Yet, kids with their texting and 'meh' and n00b' and iPods have no appreciation let alone awareness of anything pre Britney Spears...and I don't mean, Britney "Oops I forgot my panties, again" Spears, I mean Britney "I'm too young to act this slutty in a school girl outfit....but with panties" Spears. They seem to think that life didn't exist before the Xbox. Well, guess what, you whipper snappers? You're going to support me when I get old, so get a damn job.
This lack of awareness by a bunch of high schoolers isn't the only instance that makes me nuts. Just recently on television, during the much needed writer's strike, reality TV finally took over. We were bombarded by hordes of competing Dad's and liars strapped to polygraphs and of course, American Idol wannabe Dance Wars: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann. The show, which pitted two judges from Dancing With the Stars against each other in a game of "You Got Served," offered up six weeks of dreck with one stand out dumb ass, Taylor Swift. She appeared during Country Week where both teams offered up dance numbers to what else......remakes of classic songs. Team Bruno performed "Life is a Highway" and Team Carrie Ann performed "These Boots are Made For Walking." When asked what she thought of the performances, Taylor said she liked "Life is a Highway," because she loves Rascal Flatts. I wanted to throw the set through the wall. If anything, the performance was second rate. Why they (TV) consistently try turning rock songs into a Broadway show is beyond me? These guys butchered the spirit of the song. More importantly, it wasn't a Rascal Flatts song! Hello, Tom Cochrane......from Red Rider...1992...oh wait, you were listening to Barney at that age, never mind. Oddly enough, she toured with Rascal Flatts so, chalk it up to shameless plug, I guess.
My point is that you may want to claw your own eyes out because some twenty something thinks Christina Aguilera did a great cover of All Saints' "Lady Marmalade." I know. I know. When that happened I wanted to shoot myself because this girl had never even heard of Patti Labelle. You may even want to hunt down those two coeds who got banned from Southwest Airlines and tell them that it's not because they were, "too pretty" but because the FAA is afraid their already oxygen deprived brains wouldn't pressurize correctly and would cause them to deflate on a later flights. Face it girls, you aren't that pretty and while we can take steps to look better looking, you can't fix stupid. What you can't do is stop the aging process. So, perhaps I should take the hint and try to be more positive about my age. I should see it as a chance to impart the wisdom I have gained in this life onto my daughter and hope that she breaks the trend of these clueless kids. I'm still going to get cranky when I see some kid wearing sweatpants with the words pink written across the ass. If my daughter does that, I'll ground her for life. Still, as I make my way through another March 6th, I am glad that I am in fairly good health and that I have people who want to and are willing to recognize my birthday. As 12:01 appears on the clock, signifying March 7th's arrival, perhaps this good ole boy will drink some whiskey or rye, singing, "This won't be the day that I die."