I’m participating in a “staff social event” tonight. The social committee has arranged an evening of bowling. The lure is that the bowling venue is attached to a pub. I’m assuming that drinking and bowling is acceptable.
I used to be on the social committee. In fact, this is the first time in many years that I have not been on this committee. There were years where this committee was only me and maybe one other person. We didn’t organize a lot, but we did organize the Triad of Important Events: the beginning-of-the-year party, the Christmas party, and the end-of-the-year party.
This year’s new committee has six or seven members. This is already the second outing that they have organized. They actually have regular meetings. They decide things. They get ideas and run with them. I am feeling distinctly outclassed.
I couldn’t make up my mind if I wanted to attend this bowling night. I mean, I quite like bowling, and I played in a league for many years as a teenager. I used to be pretty good. I understand the game. I come from a long line of bowlers. It’s a lifetime sport, as they say.
But when I looked at the list of staff members who signed up to go bowling, I quickly realized who they were. Everybody under 35. Everybody who has come to work at my school within the past two or three years. Everybody who sits at the same two tables in the staffroom at lunchtime, laughing loudly and sharing jokes about topics that I don’t comprehend. They use slangy expressions that I’ve only ever heard DD use ironically – and I still don’t understand what exactly they mean. They’re all babies, for heaven’s sake!
Don’t get me wrong: they are all perfectly nice people. Most of them are superb teachers. Many have a wonderful sense of humour and a well-developed sense of the absurd – two absolute necessities in the world of teaching, let me assure you. I get along quite well with every single one of them. Some of them I work quite closely with, and some of them have told me how much they appreciate that I share my expertise and – uh – experience. They seem to like me.
It’s just that they’re so damn young!
How can I go out with these people and have a good time? How can I laugh about today’s shitty rap music, for example – when they all love it? I can’t joke about the stupid fashions that the kids these days are wearing, that I wore twenty-five years ago – when they’re still wearing them. For the first time. They don’t get my references to record players, or Walkmans, or life before Facebook. They don’t even know that once upon a time it was possible to go out of the house without a cellphone! How can I break it to them gently that Starbucks didn’t exist when I was a teenager? Or that my family didn’t have a PVR, not because we were poor, but because the suckers hadn’t yet been invented???
I’m not exactly ancient and decrepit. (Well, DD might dispute that, but why listen to her? She’s only 22!) I do look young for my age, I have an inquisitive mind, I love to have a rollicking good time, I can giggle and tell dirty jokes with the best of ’em. But ’tis true. I am not 35. I am (shudder) middle-aged. Over 50. Just. I have some wrinkles, cellulite, grey hair – all carefully camouflaged, of course. I dress appropriately for my age – sort of. Maybe. At times. But I never look tacky! (I think. I could be wrong.) My hair and make-up are classic, not trendy, as is most of my jewellery. I’m still presentable, not especially embarrassing (Again, don’t listen to DD. She’s biased. Besides, daughters are pretty much paid to be embarrassed by their mothers, aren’t they?).
So I’ll go out with the young’uns from work. After all, drinking and bowling haven’t changed that much over the years. And damn, it’s nice when someone else organizes something for a change!