Is middle age the new teenage rebellion?

29 Aug

So, I spent a week in Daytona Beach Shores with the tots recently.  When my mother died, my brothers and I inherited her place there.  If it were a car I might put a “Don’t laugh, it’s paid for” bumper sticker on it.  Would it be cooler if she had bought a house in Sea Side or the Outer Banks?  No doubt.  But she grew up going to Daytona as a girl and associated the longest, widest beach in the world with elegance, fun and great memories.  She never seemed to notice the ratty No-Tell Motels, comical NASCAR fans and even got a kick out of the dental-challenged old biker dudes that would flirt with her at the Oyster Pub.

Truthfully, Daytona is good for my soul.  We come down here and very few people know the phone number.  It’s much smaller than my Atlanta house so cleaning up is fast.  I never run in to anyone I know.  Most of the restaurants are pretty awful so fretting about where to have a broiled platter is not a taxing mental exercise.  Laundry is minimal.  The worst part is listening to Snakebite and Hot Tub piss and moan about going anywhere that doesn’t involve ice-cream or how they are hot and tired.  I try telling them about all of those Make-a-Wish kids who are literally dying to come to Florida and they look at me like I’m nuts and whisper back and forth behind my back.

The beach scene down here is not exactly a collection of pretty young people.  It’s the old timers who are the standouts.  In the morning, there are all manner of old, leathery people walking and jogging.  One morning I saw two old dudes paddle-boarding and a kicky older lady rocking her bikini and dancing her way down the beach in a combination of Electric Slide, tap dancing and the Charleston.  All dances that were popular in her day…and she looked amazing.  When these old-timers smile, their teeth are intact.  It’s like the realized promise of the 1970’s Geritol commercials.  This gives me hope for my golden years.  I may not be buff and have it goin’ on now, but maybe by the time I’m scratching seventy-something I’ll be sporting a thong and a belly chain.  You gotta dream big, people.

However, later in the day when the sun is pointed straight down, the AARP have abandoned the sand and surf for bridge matches, golf rounds, paddling the black-water creeks or painting lessons.  Okay, maybe they are sitting in a doctor’s office getting their Coumadin level checked or having a prostate exam.  I don’t really know where they go, but when they do, the B team comes in and, oh my.

I am all for letting your freak flag fly, but at some point you have to know when your flag just don’t look good.  What is wrong here?  The old people have their looks together, and the 20-50 demographic is a mess!  In the last ten years this group has played catch-up at the boardwalk tattoo parlors, gotten aggressive with a piercing gun and found somewhere that sells a new line of clothes inspired by Warrant videos.

What I am figuring out is that the new middle age is the old teenage rebellion.  These kinds of shenanigans used to be the exclusive property of misunderstood fourteen year-olds whose parents are divorcing.  By college they have it all out of their system and just move on.  Instead, I think there is some delayed happy childhood going on, what with all of the esteem-building crap that came out of Psychology Today and Phil Donahue, and people aren’t registering their disappointment with life until they are older and don’t need parental permission for that eyebrow piercing.  I think I’m on to something with this one.  All of these current middle age-ish people have been told that they are special snowflakes that can do and be anything.  It’s when they figure out that they aren’t going to be a princess or run Vivid Entertainment that the self-loathing sets in and they just proceed to pierce and ink the hell out of it to re-create that special, unique person again.  Then they showcase it in coconut oil and an ill-fitting swim suit or short-shorts.  Whoa.

Now, I admit that I take “fashion risks” when I am anonymous at the beach.  I may wear strapless, though my upper arms really need sleeves.  I forgo any make-up and never touch a blow dryer.  But it kinda works.  I swear.  And it certainly helps that tan+fat=muscle.  Always.  That said, if the majority of the people I see on the beach look half that way in “real life”, I might have discovered why unemployment is so high.  It has nothing to do with the economy, but with the pool that employers have to pick from.  I mean, is this who you hire to be the face of your business?

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2 Responses to “Is middle age the new teenage rebellion?”

  1. Mary Sue August 29, 2011 at 9:16 am #

    I know. Why couldn’t our moms have bought in Destin, where it would be only a five hour drive for you and only twelve for me? My only additions to your story is that the hardest parking spot to find is the handicapped parking spot. I know because my mom has a sticker and we can never park there because they are all full. My other addition is that Daytona is the only place where there are more women that have tattoo’s than men. And ladies, tatoos are not something that get better looking with age or strapless stretchy moo-moo’s. Last but not least are the lines at restaurants at 4:00 p.m. for the “early bird special.” Never eat then because it’s a stampede. All in all though, it is our little home away from home, where we can leave our toubles behind and I generally get to see my favorite cousin, Charlotte Ann.

    • Hot damn, Charlotte Ann! August 29, 2011 at 9:27 am #

      Oh, and you can’t find hard, crunchy vegetables and fruit at the grocery store…or anything really spicy that could upset the colon! But I do love it there and the anonymity. And how when I walk down the beach my self esteem explodes! Everyone needs to have a happy place where they can go to feel pretty and fit and successful…and see their cousins!!!

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