Tuesday, September 29, 2009

MIND THE GAPS

Last night I fell into the biggest cultural and generation gap of my life. Not that I was expecting much from this particular guy. We met on the dancefloor on Friday night, shared several dances, a few kisses and some light conversation. Before I went home, I gave him my phone number, but with my recent dating track record, I fully expected never to hear from him.

Surprise! He sent me a text message the next afternoon, and after a bit of back and forth, we made plans to get together on Sunday evening.

Surprise! He showed up at the appointed hour, smiling broadly and (surprise!) looking as cute as I had optimistically remembered him being. Cue small talk. Then the inevitable question. But for once, I was the one to ask. I had to know how old he was.

Surprise! 19!

Here we go again, I thought. He didn't look 19, which was a good thing, and he guessed my age as 25, which was another good thing, but the more we talked, the less he had to say, the more years he dropped. Yes, I had fallen deep into a generation gap, and I started clawing to climb out of it. We grabbed a couple of beers, and I did as much heavy lifting (in Spanish) as I do at the gym. Where was he born? How long has he lived in Buenos Aires? Would he ever want to be the Latin American Idol? (I was getting desperate.)

There! I had an idea. Music. For me, nothing gets a good conversation started like music. What did he listen to? Madonna (naturally). Katy Perry (interesting). He said another name that I didn't quite understand, but I thought it was cute how he pronounced Katy "catty." He asked me what I like. I said a little bit of everything, especially rock & roll, and singled out R.E.M. He nodded in recognition. "A mi tambien me gusta todo," he said. Ah, he likes everything, I thought, and pulled out my iPod, full of hope.

This is when I tumbled into the cultural gap. I went to the artists that someone his age, even in South America, would most likely know. I was astonished by how many he didn't. 'N Sync? No. Beyonce? No. Janet Jackson? No. Lady GaGa. Sure. Michael Jackson? Of course. Amy Winehouse? Mariah Carey? Mary J. Blige? No. No. No.

I was losing hope, and the fact that he had heard of Tina Turner and Whitney Houston confounded me. His excuse for not being better with names was that he listens to the radio and doesn't really know who sings what. That's a legitimate, if overused, excuse, but what 19-year-old has never heard of Beyonce and Janet Jackson but has heard of Tina Turner and Whitney Houston? The last time either Tina or Whitney released records in South America, he was still a tween. And even here in Argentina, everyone knows Beyonce or has at least danced to "Single Ladies." Once. So I sang the song.

Not a clue.

I spent the rest of the date dazed, confused and wondering under what rock this guy has been living for the last five years. Two hours later, alone again in the comfort of my own home, I cranked the new Muse single and dreamed of a brave new world free of hate, suffering and dates with totally clueless 19 year olds.
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