The Passing of My Youth

OK, to be honest, my youth passed a long time ago.  I haven’t been a teenager in, oh, eons a while.  My teen years are laced with memories of Cheap Trick, a Chevy Impala Station wagon that made the QE2 look like a dingy, sneaking beer on the golf course behind my house (which it turns out my mom knew about so I guess I wasn’t really sneaking anything), and playing with a Ouija board in an abandoned house.

My teen years are also full of memories of teen movies and television shows.  Movies like Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Dirty Dancing, St Elmo’s Fire (which wasn’t a teen movie but my first rated R movie in the movie theater – thanks Nancy!), The Outsiders (hmmm, sweaty teenage boys), Pretty In Pink and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, just to name a few.  Then there was the TV – 21 Jump Street, The Cosby Show, The Facts of Life, Family Ties, and Saturday Night Live (back when SNL was actually funny).

There was singing and dancing (you know, things you see every day in high school), Saturday detentions, all girls schools, skipping school, trashing dads car, laughter, angst, drugs, drinking, death and the unattainable.  There were the good looking, the beautiful, the big, the small, the ugly, the well dressed and all the coolness you could stand as a teenager.  It was a time when your average teenage girl could fall in love with the popular, hot teenage boy.  The frumpy, dark and mostly misunderstood teenage girl turned out to be a hottie underneath all that hair and baggy clothes and the jock fell in love with her.  It was a time when the young girl was noticed by the hot stud and they danced their way out of a corner.  It was a time when you didn’t have to be a size 0 and be perfect to be on tv.  I wanted to BE that girl.  I wanted to be noticed by the hot guy (where, I’m not really sure.  I went to an all girls school, there were no hot guys).  I wanted to be able to sing and dance and and smoke (which I didn’t) and be cool.  I wanted boys like Ponyboy and Johnny to be ok, to survive the times.  I spent hours singing Don’t You Forget About Me, (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life, and We Are the World, poorly, from my 5 pound Walkman.

This summer has been hard on my youth though.  It’s falling apart.  With the passing of Michael Jackson, John Hughes, and Patrick Swayze, I feel as though the chapter hasn’t just ended but the books have been pulled from circulation.  Tom Cruise has turned into a nut.  Rob Lowe is fighting his ass off to keep the hair on his head.  Demi Moore married Ashton Kutcher, perhaps in an attempt to hold on to her youth.  Or perhaps for love.  C Thomas Howell is on Southland and you wouldn’t even know it if not for his name appearing in the credits – he just looks so different.  Some of the B list actors are showing up on reality shows and they are a MESS.  Just because many of these movies can now be seen over and over again on the weekend, doesn’t make me feel any younger.

These people, their movies, their singing, the stories in Teen Magazine defined me as a teenager.  They helped to shape who I would become as an adult.  Or not become.  I was clearly never going to be a singer, dancer or actress.  But it was ok to grow up in a functional family, one where mom and dad stayed married in an era when it seemed like I was in the minority.  It was ok not to be a size 0 with the perfect hair, I’d still be liked.  It was ok to dream about the hot, smart, dreamy hunk falling in love with me – even if you knew it was never going to happen.  Saturday detention wasn’t going to be full of chit chat, drugs, running the hall, meeting strangers, and dancing in the library.  Saturday detention actually meant I had to sit there quietly and do my homework.

I may be well beyond my teenage years but it breaks my heart to see people like Patrick Swayze and Michael Jackson die at such young ages.  MJ at 50 and Patrick at 57.  It doesn’t break my heart because I followed their careers daily or because I thought that they’d be around forever.  It breaks my heart because it means that the people that helped to define my generation, are leaving us.  They are leaving their legacies behind.  They’ve made their mark and their time here is done.  How can I be old enough where people whose posters were plastered all over my room aren’t here anymore?  It doesn’t seem right.  What does that say about me?

I was thinking this morning about who would define Courtney’s generation.  Who would be the Michael Jackson and John Hughes of her days?  I’m glad that I will get to be there for those years.  To watch who shapes her.  To see who will help keep me young.

Comments

  1. Kevin Q says:

    Just remember: “No one puts baby in the corner”

  2. It’s funny how while we were living it, we thought our teen years sucked. Now we fear that our own kids may not get ones as good as we had…

    Tick…tick…tick…

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