What is old?

I thought I had a pretty good notion of who adults were and who kids were. The adult age range starts a few years younger than me and goes up from there. Kids are, well, kids. I didn’t give much thought to mid-20s-hipsters, but guess I also considered them adults, but less mature.

Put another way, adults were born before me or when I was young enough that my view of the world was pretty limited.

This was, almost literally, my concept of adults and kids. Last weekend made me do a little bit of a double-take, some introspection, and rethink this. I met someone who is 20. For all practical purposes she is an adult — a little young for being a hipster, but doesn’t run with a hipster crowd, so doesn’t fit in any of my mental categorization compartments. 20 years of age equals being born in 1987. That’s a year I can remember with a certain amount of vividness. I’ve met people before who were born in the early 80s and I have some specific memories of that era, but not general day-to-day type memories. In the early 80s, I wasn’t quite 10 and don’t have the clearest of memories, but do have a “highlight reel” of things like the family’s first and second home computers, cub scouts, family trips, and the like. 1987, though… When she was born, the following things were going on in my life (some of these are directly from memory, others I was reminded by from the Wikipedia 1987 page):

* I was just getting my Trapper Keepers, Peachy Folders, backpack, and bicycle ready for my first year of high school. Fanny-packs were still kind of cool sometimes, when you had a lot of equipment to carry, but not at school. (Yes, I realize that fanny-packs were never cool, but these are my memories, not absolute world truths.)
* I was repeatedly watching the Robotech video tapes I had recorded when the show was on the air a couple of years previous.
* I had not yet entered my goth stage and was wearing polo shirts and Levi jeans. They were specifically Levi. A few years previous, I was made fun of because I wore Toughskins.
* Vans shoes, with velcro instead of laces, were the bomb. Only we didn’t say “the bomb” at the time. They were pretty rad, though.
* I don’t know if I had discovered KROQ–the local alternative station–yet. I might have still been listening to Rick Dees in the morning on KIIS FM, before it was ClearChannel, back when it was playing the top-40 of the era instead of rap and R&B.
* There was no internet. Well, technically there was, but you couldn’t get to it. At this age, I don’t even think I had a modem yet. My first modem was a 300/1200 baud combo that I believe I got the following year. Later in the year, I’d learn about Phone Phreaking–or how to make phone calls for free–and use it call the hint lines for games like Space Quest, Police Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, and Maniac Mansion.
* My friend Zach had an Amiga 1000 computer with a black and white video camera hooked up to it. To take a color picture, there was this color wheel mounted over the lens. You’d take a red picture, a green one, and a blue one. It took about 5 seconds to capture a single image, during which time you couldn’t move or part of your picture would be stretched or blurry.
* Ronald Regan was president and had gotten caught for the whole Iran-Contra thing. I’m pretty certain that there were lots of “I don’t recall” jokes on Saturday Night Live and Dr. Demento.
* The Simpsons was not a TV show, but interstitial sketches on the Tracy Ullman show.
* Guns N’ Roses released their first album, Appetite for Destruction. I had virtually memorized The Beastie Boys’ Licensed to Ill (on cassette tape!), also from that year. I really liked U2’s Joshua Tree on the radio, but didn’t own it. Actually, I still don’t own it for some weird reason.

So basically, my brain had difficulty comprehending that there was an “adult” born when I was old enough to almost be an adult (or at least old enough to be sort of in-between kid and adult.)

Posted in: Dear Diary

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