In 1987 I was sitting in a sociology survey class at Ohio State and read a book that was designed for people born, as I was, in 1968. The instructor was a Baby Boomer and also the author of the book. He was professorially gleeful in reminding us how much that my generation X owed to his Boomers. Yes, we were looking down streets paved with benevolent boomer gold. They and they alone forged a path of freedom and prosperity that Gen X’ers would undoubtedly glide through effortlessly. Thank you, Boomers. Thank you so much.
He wasn’t all wrong. Some of the Boomer Prophecy did come to pass. We did have a pretty amazing housing market in the mid 1990’s. Every single house was made of straw, but the mortgages didn’t have the 12% interest that they were forced to endure at gunpoint. We had 7% but we also had 3-2-1 buydown mortgages and balloon payments—but I digress. The Boomers did make birth control more accessible but we had AIDS so it was back to condoms for us. We didn’t have Vietnam, we had a homeless problem. We did have more capital but then we had Coca-Cola wear and that was really quite tragic.
The Boomers also had the authoritarian nightmare of the nuclear family. One really awesome thing that came out of the subsequent collapse of the nuclear family was a wonderful delayed adolescence that I was able to experience for three pretty glorious years. From the time I spectacularly flunked out of state school until the night I conceived twins, life was if not good, really easy. I had expendable cash, weird apartments and untethered friends. I had less than 0% ambition. Some people would have called me a looser, I say I was an uncarved block of wood.
I may have been a total idiot—and I WAS—but I was also experiencing life as a really attractive idiot. The world is very kind on the surface to pretty young people. No one is going to ask you to actual help with anything or ask you to keep score at cards or anything stressful like that. You don’t get kicked out of parties when you look good, you get invited places by older people who like to have you around usually to make them feel young but so what? It was easy to like me, I was cute, harmless and smiled a lot. I was, and still am, gullible. Very impressed by nothing. It’s the least Gen X thing about me. Well, that and all of the smiling.
There was a lot of partying in the 1990’s. It was great partying, too. Cautious enough (thanks to AIDS) that we needed to think a little beforehand about sex but wild enough thanks to some fairly loose rules about what was acceptable behavior. Want to wear a dog collar and roll around on the floor, ok. Want to let a stranger mildly electrocute your boobs in a bar in front of everyone, sure. Why not show up at a barely held together warehouse and dance to incredible loud house music? Why not, indeed.
It was not a “kid friendly” environment and when a member of the 24 hour party people did end up with a baby it was frankly the weirdest thing ever. They were members of the disappeared. I didn’t see “family” types. It’s not like I was out much in the day except to go to a (horror of horrors) job or to a bookstore/coffeeshop on the weekends (I was stupid but I didn’t want to totally let go). I tried to avoid any contact with normal people. It was as if Church Picnics and Little League car washes didn’t exist anymore. I lived in the party bubble.
So when I became pregnant with twins in 1993 it’s like I got a tattoo removed and all of the piercings closed up at once and I was handed a mumu and set of breast pads. I became a vessel for nonstop work. And for as cute as babies are, they are totally thankless taskmasters who will suck the life right out of you. And one of my daughters was unnaturally attached to me—she screamed when I left the room and cried uncontrollably when I was out of sight which turns out to be not so uncommon with autistic kids. She’s 22 now and I’m still her favorite person.
Now that all of theses years have passed and I am a empty nester I really miss what I think I missed in the 1990’s. Age and long term effects of too much drinking have all but ensured that I will not be spending the evening in a mostly condemned warehouse or doing acid with a random guy I met in a bar and instantly liked because he had a Love and Rockets t-shirt…. And it isn’t just going back to before 9/11, before Bush II and of course before I watch this country vote down the best shot at a woman president. I miss the slacking, the stupidity.
I feel like somehow I was cheated out of the 90’s. I want my 1990’s back—I’m pretty sure I’m owed 6.5 years.
I’m doing a few road trips to round out the month. Going to a rock show and then the next week a little protesting in Washington DC. Trying to get that 1990’s mojo back. It’s my Gen X version of buying a Corvette.