About time.

I’m lucky to have not one but two Russian grandmas. Every so often I crawl out of my home, cursing and half-blinded by unwelcome sunlight, shedding the paint-stained jumpsuit in exchange for something nice to pay a visit. Ever since the first drop of dye touched my hair maybe 13 years ago, I’ve been given the business. This, I imagine, is something many of us share, the nagging question, the hovering “When”. When will you go back to your natural hair color? When will you take out that lip ring? When will that ink wash off your skin? WHEN WHEN WHEN. I’ve tried asking myself too but the answer always comes back the same – quite possibly never.

Age is slowly decreasing in importance even now. Research, life extension, better cosmetic surgery – our options are evolving. I’m not inspired by the plastic buffoons of Hollywood, instead I look to people I’ve actually met – take inventor, writer and wearer of many hats Tom Jennings for instance; a brilliant ageless creature, tattooed, pierced and stylish, striped socks and all. And what about Marchesa Luisa Cassati or Betsey Johnson or other people who overflow with creativity and, sequentially, vitality and remain outside the tired norm despite their age?

So how do we explain “never” and “there’s no reason to”? I can hardly explain the Internet, in fact most of my life is led in what seems to them like another plane of existence. Not a new question by any means, but how do we explain an entire culture, developed and thriving entirely outside of the elderly’s frame of reference? As a possible solution, I’m entertaining an idea of a full presentation with a laptop and a projector. A crash course on alternative culture. Will grandmas approve?

11 Responses to “About time.”

  1. Jerem Morrow Says:

    Vital und hungry minds are not hindered by age. If ze grannies rock, they’ll approve. If they’re stodgy old farts, like mine, eh…it’ll at least give ’em something more to gossip over.

  2. D Says:

    They’ll find an excuse, any excuse, to not listen. Age isn’t the only factor to denial, a few of the people I went to school with are just the same. Anything outside what they deem as ordinary will be treated as if it doesn’t exist, or will merit a comment along the lines of ‘Are you sure that hair color is a good idea’ and ‘Piercings can be dangerous, you know’. Arguably they’re not too young anymore, of course, but these were a whiny age 65 mentally even in highschool.

    Relatives…it’s a forced closeness that neither you nor they chose. It’s quirky. As long as they don’t try to marry you off to respectably dressed young men.

  3. Skerror Says:

    I agree that age isn’t really an issue when it comes to peoples’ predisposition towards progressiveness. If your grandmas are anything like mine, they would probably be immediately offput if you put them in front of a computer run presentation. My grandma’s head would spin in this atmosphere of “newfangled technology”…no matter how insightfully it was put together. She would however realize the amount of thought and effort that went into it and the gesture would definitely be appreciated and internalized. It would be amazing if you could shift that old-school mentality on substance alone, but I think the most realistic option is to tug at the heart-strings ;)

  4. Rit Says:

    Everybody’s weird. To me, the trick is in finding where my weirdness correlates to the weirdness of other people. Sixty years ago, people were expected to have some kind of magically transformative period of autoconditioning, fierce individualism, and infectious youth. Then, they were supposed to abandon it – get married, get a haircut, get a suit, get a job, get kids, get a house, and get old.

    In my experience, people who look at me and think, “Huh, that’s impossibly bizarre” are people who’ve just forgotten that we now exist in a world that lets you *live* in the magically transformative period without having to get old. If you’re good enough at swimming in the datastream, you don’t necessarily have to surface for air any more.

    P.S. I got my slightly-technophobic mom into a BitTorrent server the other day. She loves it. There is hope for past generations, verily.

  5. el Says:

    Everybody is different (whether they’re comfortable admitting it or not). with family, it’s possible to have an idea of how they might react to a given situation based on past experience and your notions of who they are, but it also means that they have the power to surprise you with their reaction more than anyone. it’s also worth mentioning that many people mellow with age. (i had examples here, but they were long and boring so i deleted them.) while it is certainly to be hoped that your grandmothers (for example) will be open to, or even embrace, who you are and what you do, there’s really no way of knowing until the moment they are confronted with that choice. but i’d like to think that it would be worth finding out. after all, a pearl can only be formed by the introduction of an irritant.

  6. mildred Says:

    Bah. Old ladies invented blue hair and tattooed eyebrows. They’re just pissed off that you’re stealing their thunder.

  7. kris_ether Says:

    I got funny looks of my relatives and parents. However good old Mum realised something, that my alternative/goth/cyberpunk persona was really just all the ideas and knowledge that she had introduced me to just bubbling up to the surface. I mean my father hates how I dress. It isn’t ‘normal’ or how a ‘professional dresses’. Maybe I say, but then as a scientist it gets you noticed and remembered as the one with the big anime hair.

    Even at a conference in London a certain nobel prize winner, Wlater Kohn, didn’t bat an eyelid (but then he’s pretty crazy with his stories of all his wives etc), and neither did many of the others.

    My supervisor found it quite a talking point when he realised I was a ‘goth’, after he couldn’t pin down why I acted/dressed the way I do. Though he did tell me to make sure I had a tidier hair cut for the conference… I think he’s just jealous as he’s going bald.

    I think for me people just need to see that the outside is really my mind making certain ideas and trains of thought solid.

    Though I’ve yet to cross the subject of fetish and pvc with the parents. I think my sister can read between the lines and the guys at work know of the types of circles I walk in order to stay sane. However my gf’s mum is fine with it all, always pleased to see the next lippy dress that her daughter buys etc.

  8. Ben Johnson Says:

    When will we change? And how will we change when we do? These aren’t terrible questions to ask. Your grandmothers could be asking because they just don’t understand where you’re coming from. I don’t think a formal presentation is the right tack, however. If you really want them to accept and understand you, spend more time with them. Hang out together. They don’t want a manifesto, they want a granddaughter. Over time, they’ll pick up on the parts of your life that are important. There may be some things that are just lost to the generation gap, and it’s going to require an on-going effort from yourself and them, but ultimately that’s the best way.

    Sorry, to get all Mister Rogers on you there, but seriously, there aren’t any real short cuts in human relationships.

  9. zoetica Says:

    Thank you everyone for all the great feedback!

    Kris: I think we need photos of this mad scientist look. Though if i were you I’d stay away from fetish talk with parents. Just think of them talking to you about their kinks. Eee.

    Ben: the question I’m addressing here is less “When will we change” and more “When will we finally be normal”.

    Of course they don’t understand, and it isn’t because I don’t see them. Keep in mind, I’ve had 27 years with these people. They’ve seen my development as a person, they’ve just missed the specifics. And that’s what I need to get across, I think.

    I want to believe that these intelligent educated beings, with lifetimes of stories and adventures of their own, have the capacity to comprehend and accept, if not agree with and relate.

    Maybe it will be futile but with them both in their 80s now, I have to try.

    El, I hope you’re right.

    Mil, you’re 100% correct. But sadly neither of my grandmas rocks the violet do. Boo.

  10. kris_ether Says:

    Zoetica: Oh that line is not ever being crossed… I think there is just an understanding of “What ever makes you happy”. Photo’s will be sorted out soon.

  11. tDIYm Says:

    I’m one of those “old people” who neither looks, dresses or acts my age. I grew up in an era when it wasn’t considered “age appropriate” to dress “too young”. So I expect that many of my age peers will have strokes if they saw me and realized my age is closer to theirs than to their childrens’, yet I look kind of like I raided their kids’ closets. Not only do I not dress like “how a professional dresses”, I don’t dress how “someone my age” should dress, either! (*grins*)