How many of you have been around a teenager recently? I hadn't. The youngest person I've associated with lately is in her early 20's. It's funny how time separates you from your former selves. I'm sure that at 50 I'll be laughing and shaking my head at the very drivel I'm spewing now. I think I became somewhat dimly aware of that point when I shared a house with a woman and her 12 year-old daughter back in the mid-90's. I thought of Selah as this "older lady" (she was 38) but even though her daughter and me were blasting the same music, I was 27-I was much closer to Selah's age. I see kids on the street and marvel at how clueless they are...but of course, I was much smarter than them at that age...and we had better music then, too!
I'd hoped that the transition from Cool Guy to Old Fogy might miss me. Or barring that, perhaps there would be a compromise..."Wizened Hipster", perhaps? Y'know, like Kurt Loder or Greil Marcus...
So yesterday, I went down to 911 Media Arts to do some voice work for a project that Miriam is working on. We had to wait until some equipment was free, so while Mir was checking on that I hung out in the front room. There were a lot of young women around...most seemed High School age.
So while I was waiting, this young sista and her friend come up to me and asks me if I could do some voice stuff for her too. I'm like all "Sure!” not knowing what I was getting into.
She promised to love me forever. I suddenly feel on my guard. I know how teenage girls can be. These two were pretty friendly but you can never tell. At least if a woman my age thinks I'm a blithering idiot, she'll probably wait until I'm out of earshot before telling her friends and laughing about it. I was paranoid that I was being set up for what the British call a "piss take".
So Miriam is somewhere in that back and this girl and her friend start asking me questions...all breathlessly energetic like a couple of puppies.
So mister (Mister!) you got Rasta colors on your jacket...Are you a Rasta?
So you're a poseur Rasta?
Nooo. I mean those colors are associated with Rastafarianism, but the Red is for the blood of our people, the Green is for the land of Africa, the Yellow represents gold, stolen from "us." (I'm sure I got that from an old Steel Pulse song)
You're pulling my leg.
No! I'm serious...
Well, you know-Bob Marley is one of my obsessions. (You have obsessions?)
Really? (I didn't know what else to say. I'd purposely avoided listening to Marley when getting into reggae 'cause I was tired of frat boys endorsing him like he was the end-all-be-all of a rather large genre of music. "Reggae? Duuude, Bob Marley..." It's like having someone yak on about the Beatles every time rock music is brought up! For the record, I dig his stuff, but prefer Desmond Dekker, Toots and Peter Tosh)
Have you heard of Finch?
Yes. (trying not to roll my eyes)
Those guys used to be cool. I really liked their first album, but then they sold out...
(Incredulous) They had a first album?
Oh yeah! (She and her friend start singing that gahdawful single.)
What's that on the back of your jacket? What's Killing Joke?
They're another band.
(The friend pipes up) Ooh, what about The Clash? Some of their stuff is cool. But I can't handle it. My teacher likes them a lot.
(I fight the urge to go off on a "Joe Strummer is a fawking God" tangent) Jeez-You guys are making me feel old.
So finally they introduce themselves. Ariel is tall and slender. The cuter of the two...kind of a princess. Victoria is shorter and chubby in overalls and a hoody. I guess the fact that the three of us are black and discussing, heh, "rock and roll" would qualify us as nerds, but shit-I'd claimed that title a long time ago.
On learning my name, Ariel remarked: Hey, I know a guy Morgan and an Ashley. And now I know a Stacey. You all should all get together!
Hey! My name means "resurrection" in Greek. That's not gender-specific!
Yeah, well Ariel is like, y'know the mermaid? My middle name's Grace...which means...Grace.
I relax. They are teasing me, but good-naturedly.
Miriam comes back and we do the voice parts. Ariel runs the camera and Victoria checks the sound. They ask me a bunch more questions while testing for levels. Ariel asks me to suggest a Bob Marley song for her to sing. I deliberately try to suggest songs that I think will be more obscure (to her).
Who the Cap Fit.
I don't know that one.
Don't know that one either.
(She ignores me and starts singing "Is This Love?")
We do four takes for Miriam's project and three for Ariel's-for which I only had to say the line, 'Well, everybody knows when a girl says "no", she really means "yes"'.
Ariel demands that I come to the show on Friday and tells me to "dress up".
"Well, they sure seem to like you!" Miriam says.
I get ready to go. I feel goofy for worrying about my 'coolness' in the face of unbridled yoof and relieved that I can go home and nerd out in relative peace.
But as I head for the door, Victoria delivers the parting shot:
Hey-your fly is open!