"I just wish you and Daddy weren't so … so … old," my 13-year-old daughter, apropos of nothing, announces as we're saying goodnight.
What the hell is she talking about? Sure, I'm 50 and her dad's 55, but we're still hip, cool, edgy … pretty much any adjective one might have used in the '70s to describe Peggy Lipton or Iggy Pop.
Suffice it to say, we're not your typical helicopter parents. We let them stay up past 10 p.m. on school nights, and even occasionally use the word "dude." I must've misunderstood my dear child. Perhaps she's just worried that we'll die soon and she won't be able to rely on us for current pop cultural references coupled with sage advice.
"Honey," I reassure her. "Your daddy and I will be around for a very long time."
"I know that," she responds as if swatting an annoying gnat away from her face. "It's just that Daddy picked me up at school today wearing his grandpa slippers. And his T-shirt rode up. You could see his stomach underneath, all white and hairy. It was so humiliating!"
It's true her father could use longer T-shirts, but doesn't she know he co-wrote "Face-Off," one of the coolest action movies of all time? And he snagged me, a Suicide Blonde who danced for INXS at the 1990 Music Video Awards?
Because certainly she isn't embarrassed of me?
No no. No no no. I can't hear you. La-la-la-la …
"The other night, I caught you putting your boobs on the table."
"What?" (She saw that?)
"We were playing Monopoly," she continued, "and you were wearing your pajamas without a bra and you put them right on the table!"
"Is it my fault they're lush and full and need a little support?"
"Mom, I can't unsee that!"
In the ensuing days, it's clear that my husband's belly and my breasts aren't the only indicators of our imminent decrepitude. It seems that we're barely even speaking the same language.
For instance, we learn that kids today don't "go steady"—they "go out." Which seems ironic, because none of them can even drive, and they tend to stay inside my house eating everything in sight.
Apparently, we also misuse the word "ratchet," which we always thought was a type of tool. We've been informed it actually means "a diva, mostly from urban cities and ghettos, that has reason to believe she's every mans' eye candy." Mmm-kay.
In addition, when we volunteer at my daughter's middle school, there can be no overt greetings, like a wave or anything that engages the vocal chords or, God forbid, a hug. A chin salute is pushing it.
If I play Styx in the car after pickup, it's "old fogey" music. If my daughter plays Styx in the car after pickup, it's retro. If I try to participate in my daughter and her friends' conversation while I chauffeur them to the ends of the Earth, I'm met with the same type of nervous yet slightly condescending titters usually employed by smug hipsters, who, IMHO, are in desperate need of a smack.
The list of ignominies, embarrassments and sheer social atrocities we heap upon our teenager grow faster than a viral meme, but here's the beauty part—we don't care.
There's something about having traveled so far from the excruciating self-consciousness of adolescence that gives us the right amount of perspective, detachment and sense of humor to take it all in stride. The less we try to resist our daughter's snippy judgment, the more quickly it seems to pass, like the ill-timed flatulence of our geriatric dog.
He's 56 in human years.