“You’ve never heard of her?”
Yes, every old fart has said that about someone who was once famous at least fifteen years ago. As actors, musicians, and celebrities get older they leave the public eye or, much worse, they don’t appeal to the fifteen to twenty-five crowd. It creeps up on you and without you’re knowing its coming and suddenly you’re having a conversation much like this:
I was thirty-seven, speaking to a girl who was at most twenty-two and Helen Reddy came up. I asked this girl if she knew who she was. The sad part of it is that I never liked Helen Reddy. In fact I found her really annoying so I had no real investment in whether her legacy had been gloriously upheld across fifteen years and into the future. Still, when you open your mouth to make a point or tell a story and the person you’re speaking to doesn’t know who you are talking about, you feel like a newly born idiot. It becomes a new day. And there’s no going back.
What changes? Up until that point you were current and you were cool. You were part of the world culture and you could hold your own at parties. And now? You are a person who is discussing someone who doesn’t exist. You are weird.
Since that day, I have not mentioned Helen Reddy again. No tragedy there. But now that I am 57 and at least two generations have passed since that day. I have stopped trying to simply throw out names of people who reached their career peak decades ago. Being current is a vague memory.
I don’t resent this. It will go on as long as there is a society in this country that has unlimited entertainment options. However there is a little bit payback in my future. I imagine my grandson’s in twenty years talking about “The Plain White T’s” and how great a song “Hey there Delilah” is to a bunch of teenagers. Or talking about Lindsay Lohan and what a scandalous media sensation she was. I want to be there. It will be amusing.
Maybe I do resent getting old. At least a little.