I played hookey today from work claiming ailments from a non-existent stomach flu. I went to the movies, got a massage, went to the gym, and drove around mostly. I went for a long walk on the desolate Asbury Park boardwalk. With all the dressed-up new boutiques and restaurants there I thought I’d be uncomfortable with hip company. But under the month-old piles of snow, the grey sky, and the shuttered buildings, it was still the eerily sad Asbury. And I was happy about that.
I went to the mall to buy my kids some used DVDs of the Batman movies (the good ones–with Christian Bale). I passed Hot Topic and a Captain America t-shirt caught my eye. So I went in and asked the kid for it and for a half a second I contemplated telling him it was for my nephew. Or something. I did say it. Because I’m a suburban mom, pushing 40. It’s winter so my sleeved-arms aren’t showing and I don’t feel the need to parade around without a jacket to show some 16 year old clerk that I’m still cool.
Or do I?
As I left the store, with the Captain America t-shirt for me, I saw a kid eyeing the vinyl over in the corner and shockingly there was a copy of a 7-Seconds 12-inch. I told him he should buy it because it’s an awesome record. He looked at me like I had 10 heads.
I have no credibility any longer. Regardless of the fact that I requested the masseuse this morning put on the Tron Legacy soundtrack from my iPhone instead of that awful muzak crap they play in spas. That’s meaningless because I am old. I am an old, suburban mom, and my weird habits of wearing Captain America t-shirts and listening to the Tron soundtrack at a mindnumbing volume just appear to be weird. Not even dorky. Just weird. Odd.
Why can’t I grow old? Get a football helmet-like haircut, wear comfortable shoes and expensive handbags, and drive a minivan like the rest of the suburban moms? Why do I feel like they are all old and I am not? I remember on walks with my grandmother years ago she would see someone with a short skirt or too much makeup and say, “Silly old fool.”
I think I am approaching the new millenium version of a silly old fool.
I really have no problem with that and it’s not a complaint by any means. However, my older kid is 4 1/2 and at some point my habits may cross the line of being totally uncool. What if he grows up to be a Republican, and wears Oxford shirts and plays golf and when he’s not playing golf he’s still wearing those fucking pants with ducks and shit on them? And that will be all my fault, because he thinks I’m a silly old fool.
* * *
I think it may have to do with integrity.
I am going to the borough hall tonight for a town meeting at which I am going to be grilling the fascist little mayor and his town council cronies for some half-wit plan to consolidate the police department with a town a few miles away. It’s a bad plan. And it’s not that I particularly love cops. But I’m leaving our dinner table tonight to make sure my voice is heard and that there is some counter to the small town cronyism that’s known somehow as governance.
That’s the lesson I hope my kid learns from me. Not that it’s necessarily ok to ditch work in the middle of the day and go to the movies. Not that it’s necessarily ok to get a tattoo of REVOLUTION in two-inch block letters across your back. Not that it’s necessarily ok to call people douchebags when they are acting douchey. Not that it’s necessarily ok to blow out your speakers listening to “subversive” music. Not that it’s necessarily ok to name our cat Puppy Dog.
But to speak up when you know deep down inside it must be heard, and not just to hear yourself talk — that’s the lesson I hope I can teach my kid through my actions.