My brother grabbed the chrome knob of our Buick’s radio and cranked it up, hoping Mom wouldn’t complain. From the back seat, I could hear the grinding voice of Ted Nugent and see my brother’s elbow jerk to the rhythm of his air guitar.
“I just don’t get it,” Mom piped up over the screeching sounds, “Why on Earth would a ‘cat scratch a beaver?’ That just doesn’t make sense ecologically.”
My brother and I were mortal enemies, but he grinned at me to share our mutual opinion that Mom was totally uncool.
She was notorious for embarrassing us by botching lyrics and doing cheesy “mom dances” to our favorite songs. My brother and I shriveled in humiliation when Mom pointed her thumbs alternately into the air to the beat, or did the Mashed Potato to Rod Stewart’s “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” or KC & The Sunshine Band’s “Shake, Shake, Shake Your Booty.”
She must’ve been born uncool, we thought, and were thankful that we would never suffer the same fate.
But then, life played its cruel joke, and I became a middle-aged mom.
Although fully entrenched in denial, I sometimes get the feeling that, much like my mother before me, I have no idea what’s cool anymore. I reluctantly allow my kids to control the radio on our way to school, and am forced to listen to the repertoire of new rock alternative and pop tunes that only serve to keep me from hearing the news and weather. As cool as I think I am, I’m just realizing who Foo Fighters and Train are. It’ll take me another five years before I can wrap my mind around Mumford & Sons, Fun and Young the Giant.
Recently, our kids wanted to go to a nearby outdoor concert featuring a band named Switchfoot. All our friends were going, so despite the fact that we couldn’t identify the music off the top of our heads, we jumped on the bandwagon like groupies. The morning of the concert, my husband and I figured we’d better do our research. With the assistance of our teenage daughter, we played snippets of Switchfoot’s songs on iTunes.
“Hey, I’ve heard this one before!” I said, and my husband and I gyrated to the beat while our kids rolled their eyes. “Oooo, this one’s actually pretty good,” my husband exclaimed upon hearing another familiar song. “’Yea, hmmm, uhuh, da, da — HEY, we are the Dark Horses!!’” he belted at the top of his lungs.
Later at the concert, my husband and I were ready to prove that we hadn’t lost our cool. Pairing middle-aged dance moves with inaccurate lyrics, we appeared to be having a blast. An hour later, my husband asked me to search my purse for ibuprophen for a pain in his lower back. Another hour later, we began to yawn and complain about the noise. Finally, in the last hour of the concert, we just wanted to go home, take our fiber tablets, and go to bed.
No matter how obvious it is that we’re not cool anymore, we middle-aged parents never want to face reality.
“Sounds like a xylophone. What’s the name of this band, Honey?” I asked my teenage daughter last week while driving our minivan to school.
“Gotye,” she answered with a slight eye roll.
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