My wife, the Contessa, and I recently had occasion to visit a Central Coast college town, quaint but hip, where swarms of students hovered like furtive moths in that twilight between “juvenile” and “minor.” The distinction between these ephemeral modes of being is purely legal – I’ll give you a clue: one’s an adult, but they’re both underage. This is why I got busted at 19 for being a “minor in possession of alcohol” on the junior college campus back in ’91. That it was a bottle of The Blood of Christ proffered by Hell’s own sommelier was beside the point in the eyes of the law – specifically the campus cop who dumped the elixir into the rose bushes with a doleful shake of his head (there, a single Forget Me Not instantly bloomed and has never died).
Seeing as the vino was alleged to be a youth serum on par with this (worthless!) picture of Dorian Gray I keep in my billfold, I’ve been looking for a replacement bottle ever since. Before it’s too late. And it’s already too late. You see, having just gotten hitched, I thought I might attempt to grow a full-beard – something in my 34 years I’ve never had the patience to do. It is also something my exes over the years suggested I never do. The Contessa, however, is more understanding, or she at least understands that it would be silly to get divorced over a beard.
Theoretically. When I chanced to let my whiskers go a couple days longer than I normally do, I discovered to my horror that a vast too many were white. Of course, I shaved immediately, not that I have anything against aging per se, but you know what they say about wearing white after Labor Day.
The college-aged children I noticed filling the coffee houses and brasseries during our visit, however, have no such issues with the color of their facial hair (or at least the matted patches they pretend to grow). They are the so-called Echo-Boom, the blowback from the Baby Boom, in fact their final-offspring, who will wrest control of the cultural agenda the Boomers have set for the past 40 years, once Mom and Dad are convalescing in a mausoleum for the living.
Conversely, I’m a member of “generation x,” the smallest, least significant generation on earth, to whom the corporate world makes nary a nod for we are but a wee market share and the first generation since the advent of American capitalism to make less than our parents (who, mysteriously, are also Baby Boomers). Of course, I have nothing to substantiate this claim other than my own flaccid experience in the marketplace of late (“When did clothes stores become discotheques?” asked the fuddy-duddy. “When did size 34 become the outer-reaches of couture?” he inquired, on his way to the gym). The echo-boom, however, are better, stronger, faster – in essence bionic – and are to be trusted with the fate of the universe. Those of my generation are but prototypes, or as I prefer to think, “collector’s editions;” though we’re really just rough drafts, preserved in the formaldehyde of pop culture and bohemia that makes “the 80s” edition of Trivial Pursuit such a cinch. “What’s Trivial Pursuit?” you ask, young reader? Just Google it.
In Sonoma, those of my demographic number about six. We run into each other on the weekends, host dinner parties, try to remember what happened in the 90s and discuss our plans for local domination (despite our pathetic numbers). You see, we still have the utopian visions of Sesame Street, the Cardigan-clad Zen of Mr. Rogers and the choose-your-own-adventure ethos our parents’ generation to live up to. No matter how white our beards.