In the year 2016, I wrote a book called OLD AND QUIRKY. It was about the place that I live. I renamed this wonderful place SILC (Senior Independent Living Community.) In the real world, the name is Brandon Oaks Independent Living and Life Care Community. It is a wonderful place and I love living here. But mostly, I love the people. They are pleasant, interesting and intelligent and they are all past the 65-year mark as earthly beings. I am aware that I’m growing older, but I can’t tell if I’m becoming quirkier or everyone around me is doing so. This matter of quirkiness deserves another look.
I have decided that I gave my daughter’s entirely too much credit for my decision to move to this fabulous place. Even though I was young (70) by some standards, I was no longer a hipster and truly didn’t want to be. Some people suggest that age is just a state of mind. At least it can seem so until you try to squeeze into ridiculously tight jeans you rocked when you were 50. But unfortunately, aging is just as unavoidable for hipsters as it is for everyone else. And the bitter reality suggests that when you reach the age of 70, it’s easy to be regarded as a cultural imbecile. There’s no fountain of youth to gulp down. And strategically placing copies of the New Yorker and Wire on your coffee table isn’t going to erase the signs of aging from your increasingly wrinkled face or your silver hair.
The fact of the matter is that there are limits to how hip you can be when you reach a certain age. There are, of course, tips and tricks to make the transformation more graceful, but the challenges for the aging hipster are many – especially when most aspects of relevant popular culture are primarily aimed at people in their teens and twenties. The stresses of staying up to date with everything can easily become oppressive, and growing frustration can lead even the most dedicated hipster into the dreaded mainstream middle. I simply cannot text with my thumbs. Plus, it’s more important to put together a nutritious, well balanced dinner than to text your grandchildren to see what they are doing. Or, in our case, find your way to the dining room.
An exact timeline for the decline of the hipster is hard to define. Some already start to lose their grip around 40, while others hold themselves in top form long after the 50-year mark. However, here are ten clear indicators that the ball is probably rolling:
1. Your biggest musical influences have all hobbled around on embarrassing reunion tours.
2. You wear long-sleeved shirts because you are afraid of pre-cancer lesions.
3. You can’t relate to any of the characters on Stranger Things.
4. All your friends have grandchildren.
5. You have a great snapback hat collection.
6. You have a gym membership and use it with admirable regularity.
7. You wear ear plugs at symphony concerts and object to loud restaurants.
8. You go to bed before the news at least six nights a week.
9. You turned in your sleek BMW and now drive a Prius.
10. You use Facebook to keep in touch with your family.
You could view “the aging hipster” as something of a paradox. But that need not be the case. You could just project your actual age instead of pretending that you’re still part of the younger generation. In other words, stop dressing like you’re 30 immediately. Be sure to keep yourself in decent shape. Few people manage to look good long-term on a steady diet of bacon and Ben & Jerry’s. Aging hipsters should also avoid overly daring and eye-catching outfits. The line between clairvoyance and bad taste tends to blur the older you get. Muted colors and more tasteful paraphernalia are always a plus. Even your choice of hair style plays a big role. Mohawks, ponytails and the messy layers get the ax. Short and well-groomed are key concepts. My hair is way too long by mature standards. Most people tell me I look younger when my hair is short. The truth is I am lazy and don’t like going to the barber shop.
But more important is your de facto relationship to popular culture and art. In this respect, never let yourself get lazy. Older hipsters gladly prioritize family and career over scanning for exciting current cultural expressions and phenomena. Instead of making the effort, they satisfy themselves with the lowest common denominator. Don’t. Do. It.
Since I no-longer wanted to be the hipster, it was evident to me that Brandon Oaks was the place to be. The decision between buying a house and moving here was simplified when I considered grass cutting and snow shoveling. End of story!