Now, I don't want to get off on a rant here, but isn't it about time we got off generation X's tattooed back? It's no wonder Xers are angst-ridden and rudderless. They feel America's greatness has passed. They got to the cocktail party twenty minutes too late and all that's left are those little wieners and a half-empty bottle of Zima.

So that's why they're threatened. But why do we find them so threatening? I thought we were a little hipper than that. Or at least we were when we were their age.

You must remember that then, as now, it remains the single most important function of a generation to irk the living shit out of the generation immediately preceding it.

Screw the old squares, listen to a faster beat, wear a wider cuff, get a Beavis and Gingrich tattoo, change. Life is about change. More than that, life is like riding the bus, it requires change.

The so-called generation X has gotten a bad rap for being whiners. But people in their twenties have always been whiners. People in their twenties should be whiners. They are to whining what Pavarotti is to ... uh ... uh ... Tommy. Okay, I don't know opera.

The reason you whine is that you've just popped out of the cozy, beer-filled amniotic sac of academia.

You haven't developed the prerequisite thick hide of the cynical, callused bastard yet, and your future seems bleaker than Ingmar Bergman listening to an acoustic set performed by Leonard Cohen.

Add to the angst bouillabaisse the current prospects of a flatlining economy, an environment that's choking to death on its own shit, and a sexual atmosphere that's about as warm, safe, and inviting as a Zagreb bunker. Christ, if I were in my twenties now, I'd be bitching so hard, I'd make Beck sound like Tony Newley.

Additionally, this generation of young adults is being forced to experience every coltish fumble of their coming of age with the media doing a hushed, reverentially breathless play-by-play. It's kinda like if Dr. Frankenstein gave a running commentary of what the monster was doing all day.

What's the result of all that scrutiny? It would appear, mass-marketed nonconformity. The Real World holding auditions. Auditions. For the fucking "real world." Everyone's so busy playing to the cameras that nobody's creating anything. That's why they use all of our stuff. The Brady Bunch, platform shoes, Tony Bennett.

They suffer from generational performance anxiety because we baby boomers are constantly pounding our chests about our salad days. To hear us tell it, the late sixties and early seventies were a time where between orgies everybody got together and put on Woodstock. Then, between band breaks, we put a stop to an unjust war and brought a rogue chief executive officer to his knees, all the while smoking the most incredible cheap herb in the history of the dilated planet.

You know, they heard all about the free love of the sixties and seventies. But now it's the nineties, the balloon payment is due, and their generation has to pay the mortgage. Instead of casual sex, they have precautionary sex. Nothing ruins the mood during foreplay more than the recurring image of your sixty-five-year-old homeroom teacher trying to stretch a condom over a cucumber.

So believe me, I understand the origins of their discontent. And I empathize. Having said that, I'll be damned if I know what makes these kids tick.

It appears their personal philosophy places a great deal of value on getting so many body piercings that you begin to look like you fell down a flight of stairs carrying a tackle box.

Body-piercing. A powerful, compelling visual statement that says "Gee ... in today's competitive job market, what can I do to make myself even more unemployable?"

Fashion is an interesting sword when wielded by disaffected youth. Any guy that remembers being a teenager knows that many youthful uprisings take place in pants, so the practicality of wearing them so big you could smuggle a hard-on the size of a beagle is not lost on me.

Well, what else is important to them? As far as stimulants go, both of our generations know the feeling of jonesing for product from Colombia; it's just that their product is coffee.

And by the way, is it asking too much to be able to drink a cup of joe in public without having to listen to some malcontent working out their issues, next to me? It's bad enough that these coffeehouses all seem to have purchased their furniture at the same Dresden fire sale, and when the guy who's been occupying a table for the entire time he's been growing his goatee finally gets up and clears away his journal and his clove cigarettes and his Tibetan worry beads and you can finally sit down, you realize that the table is wobbling because one leg is so much shorter than all the others that the only thing that would balance it is a hardcover copy of Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, and you're finally enjoying your cafe whatever and your triple-berry chocolate-chip six-grain scone when some chick with a buzz cut wearing cat's-eye sunglasses, an orange-and-avocado-green feathered JoAnne Worley "sock-it-to-me" dress, and combat boots stands up front and starts reading a poem she wrote about the first guy who ever felt her up.

All right, so I just tipped my hand. Maybe I'm not as comfy with these kids as I let on. Maybe it's true. Maybe there is a gap between the baby boomers and the generation Xers that makes the Khyber Pass look like the eye of a needle. How did that happen?

Well, I'll tell you how it happened. It happened because we have become our parents, the caretakers of the status quo, set in our ways, afraid of change, prattling on and on about our Ford Windstars while tapping our feet to Wang Chung in our dentist's waiting room.

Look, sure Xers are pissed, and they're just beginning to understand that it's because we owe them and we haven't said a damn word about it. It's like that friend who owes you money but makes you feel like an asshole for bringing it up.

Well, trust me, fellow elders, it's time to brace up and get ready because natural progression dictates that they'll get over their shyness soon and start banging on our doors like a shortchanged Chinese takeout guy. They are our ghosts of Christmas past, and if you listen closely you can hear them rattling their nose chains.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss, except for the Doc Martens and the purple hair.

Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.


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