Once upon a time I was a Boy Scout. I wasn't a good one, but there were a few things I got from the experience that have stayed with me, quite aside from the uniform fetish.
The most useful is the ability to keep my wits about me when thrust into a situation fraught with danger, discomfort, and the potential for personal injury. You're thinking I learned this during wilderness campouts. No. It came from being tossed into a meeting full of screaming hooligans once a week. Nature holds no terrors comparable to that of a group of twelve-year-old boys, at least when you're the quiet kid in the corner who'd really rather be reading Little Women.
And this weekend I'm once again facing a foray into terra incognita more frightening to me in some ways than any forest full of creeping, biting things. Lollapalooza.
It's not exactly the same, mind you. I will have a trusty and considerate guide in C, who is very good at leading me through new experiences with a knack for knowing when I'm going to freak out.
And I not only made it through the Intonation Festival, I had a very good time. So what's to worry about?
I'm not worried, I suppose. Just puzzled. Puzzled at the recurring feeling I get when going to an age-appropriate activity that I'm much, much too old for it. It doesn't help that out of the entire festival lineup, the only person or band whose name I recognize is Billy Idol, and I can only vaguely remember two of his songs because they got played on classmates' boomboxes back in the 80s.
When I was tiny, adults frequently said in my hearing that I acted "like a little old man" and I wonder if they cursed me with this permanent sense of being forever removed from my own generation.
I have trouble even being nostalgic with exact contemporaries. "Remember Duran Duran?" Vaguely, yes. I remember I didn't like them at all, didn't buy their albums, didn't watch their videos, didn't care. Even when I tried to. I once forced myself to spend babysitting money on a stack of cassettes at the mall, classic 80s pop music I knew everybody else was listening to. Forced myself to listen it for a whole week. Hated every minute of it.
But put me in a room with a group of people who were teenagers in the 40s, let them get sentimental about Jo Stafford or Peggy Lee, and I go right along with them. "They don't make voices like that any more." No, they don't, and it's a great pity, and I regret it as much as they do. I didn't hear this music played at home, so who even knows where the taste for it came from?
I am keeping an open mind. I'm truly looking forward to the festival. It is very hard for me to be anywhere with C and not have a great time. He's already made it clear that if it's too much for me I can leave, no hard feelings.
And still I wonder, how normal is it for somebody my age to be having reservations like this in the first place?