"Weird" Al Is Big At The Home
Column written by on Tuesday, September 3, 2002
I recently plunged headlong into the generation gap. I faced my mortality and it was truly horrific. A simple statement made by a naive girl who clearly meant no harm forever altered my life. Her comment may have been intended to point out how young she was, but its clear subtext was to draw attention to how old I was. In a sense, she was letting everyone know that I was just days away from being a rotting corpse.
It happened like this. I was sitting with a group of people, most of who were around the same age. We were discussing types of music we liked and I mentioned that I happened to like "Weird" Al Yankovic. I stated that I think he's done some amazingly funny things with songs. Most of the group was in agreement, except for a particularly unruly fellow that couldn't go five minutes without saying, "oh yeah?!? Well, what about Buddy Ebsen?" We had no idea what he meant.
Then, it happened. A young lady piped in with, "Weird Al? Who's Weird Al? I've never heard of him? Is he like from the '50s?" After the group revived me with oxygen and the smell of coconut, I asked if she was kidding. She was not. She had never heard of "Weird" Al and could not understand what could be so funny. I promptly produced a cassette tape and put it into a player for her to hear "Eat It." Many of you know that "Eat It" is one of his signature tunes and I felt it would be a good introduction for her. She did enjoy the song and laughed heartily at times. This was pleasing until she asked me where I got the tape.
"Well, actually this was recorded from a record of mine," I replied.
"A record?!?!" she screamed incredulously, "how old is this guy?"
I told her that the song came out roughly in the winter of 1984 and was an instant hit. It was then that she blind-sided me with the most disturbing statement anyone has ever made to me.
"Man! 1984? I wasn't even a year old yet! That was a long time ago!"
At this, my body instantly contracted osteoporosis. I hunched forward, my back began to hurt, my joints began to ache, and my hands curled to a claw-like form. Suddenly, I was an old man and all I wanted to know was why no one was fetching my sweater. I was overcome with a desire to eat broth and watch Matlock.
Later, at home, I couldn't escape what had happened. I was old. What happened? I used to be young. Oh, people older than me will tell me I'm young. But what do they know? I used to be cool and carefree. I used to do wild things and listen to obnoxious music. It was obnoxious to my parents and that made me feel rebellious, cool, and dangerous. Now it's obnoxious to my kids and that makes it dull, silly, and downright nerd-like. I was now faced with an undeniable truth. I had become the least hip person on the planet.
I tried to stem the tide of my increasing geezerness. I began shopping at the Gap in hopes of looking more hip. I tried on a few things and all the young salesman would say was "dude." I don't know what he meant by that, but his tone was not encouraging. I walked up to the counter to pay for my clothes. The young lady behind the counter was singing along to a rather bouncy little tune that was playing over the store's speakers. Actually, the song was blaring through the speakers to such a degree that I couldn't tell if it was a song or the slow, painful mutilation of rabid cats. I didn't want to seem out of touch, though. A sure sign that you're getting too old is that the music is getting too loud. I made a comment to the young lady about the song, citing it's catchy beat.
"Yeah," she said. "It's Pink."
Just like that I was in over my head. This girl was speaking a foreign language. She was using some new, hip lingo and I felt inadequate to communicate. However, I was not going to give her the satisfaction. What was "Pink?" Did it mean cool? Did it mean great? At first, I thought maybe it had a negative connotation, since pink rhymes with stink, but she said it with such passion I knew it must've been a compliment. So, I attempted to continue the conversation.
"Yeah, it's pink alright. Way pink. None more pink." The girl looked at me as if I had sneezed a barracuda out of my nose. I took this to mean I had made a slight error with the vernacular. So I followed with, "or should I say none pinker?"
"Dude..." she said, continuing with the look, "I mean, she's Pink."
"Her. The singer. The singer is Pink."
"Don't I know it!" I replied, "she's so Pepto-Bismol! I've seen some pink in my time, but she defines pink."
"No, dude, the singer....she's Pink."
"That's what I'm saying!!!" I said. Suddenly this young lady and I were Abbott and Costello. I tried desperately to tell her that I was in agreement. I told her that in my day (and I couldn't believe that I used the phrase "in my day") we had different words for cool. For instance, "bad" meant good. I then told her that I was just trying to understand that she was telling me that "pink" meant good in her generation. She just shook her head, said "dude" and informed me that "Pink" was the singer's name. She then told me that there were other singers who had one name. I told her that was a pretty common phenomenon, but at least in the 80s, the one name made sense. I was dumbfounded. It's no wonder people fall out of touch with what's cool. Half the time, it never makes sense.
I lowered my head and slowly made my way out of the store and went back home. I put in a "Weird" Al tape and drifted away to a simpler time, a happier time. It was my time, my era. I was happy then. Now, I'm just another out of touch geezer who has no idea that Eminem is a singer's name and not something you need when you can't go to the bathroom. How the mighty have fallen.
Now, if you'll excuse, I must put my teeth in a glass and take my nap. Wake me when Matlock comes on.