When was the last time you felt too old?
Not in the hyperbolic sense, when you patronizingly sigh something about how you can’t physically do a task you were once able to do, but rather, a realistic sense. As in you look around, you take stock of what surrounds you, and with a clear head and pristine vision know that you are too old, objectively speaking, for a situation.
It could be the time you were looking around at the kids playing on the same playground you were playing on and thought, “Nah, this just isn’t for me anymore.” Maybe a fast-food chain keeps getting your order wrong, yet instead of throwing a fit, yelling at the hapless drive-thru worker, you politely point out the mistake and ask for a correct order — or, in a sign of truly being way too old, you just eat the incorrect order anyway, because ... who cares, right? You’re old.
We all have those moments. Some aren’t as drastic as others — trading in your Dorito budget for a diaper budget seems like a fairly obvious evolution — but every so often, we take a punch from Father Time and either it knocks us down, barely allowing us to recuperate before the 10 count, or it jabs us in the stomach and we can hit back almost immediately.
Last Saturday, I was knocked to the canvas.
First, let’s back up. Have you ever wandered the streets in downtown Frederick on a Saturday night? It’s filled with pretty people doing pretty things, like dancing or eating or holding hands. It’s a bastion for those who are tan, well-dressed, in shape and have nary a care in the world. It’s the perfect place for any 23-year-old hoping to soak up their 20s for all they’re worth.
Me? I burn, I don’t tan. I don’t even know what “well-dressed” means in 2019. It’s been four years since I’ve even come close to being fit. And not only do I have a lot of cares in this world, but those cares cause an immense amount of anxiety within a head that’s already more cluttered than a 6-year-old’s toy room.
So you can imagine all the feels swirling through the ether when a friend invited me out for his birthday last Saturday at The Cellar Door.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with The Cellar Door, so take your fingers off the send button to the nasty email you probably already crafted, thinking I was going to be snarky about the Church Street bar. It’s a fine establishment. Outside of being ignored for 10 minutes to get a beer (presumably because of my uncoolness), I don’t really have a gripe with it.
But when you work out of town on a Saturday night and you are of a certain age, you don’t return to town until around midnight, and you see a line extending up the stairs of The Cellar Door just to get in the place ... well, it’s one of those times when you objectively look around and say what?
I’m too old for this.
Still, drummers must stick together, so I wanted to at least pop in to say hello, buy my friend a drink, tell him I love him and be on my way. Thus it went: I waited in line, paid the cover to get in and was immediately transported back to my college days when doing this type of thing felt like it was second nature. The weird part was that it felt like almost nothing had changed.
There was the guy who couldn’t dance, thinking he could dance, trying to dance with any girl who might mistakenly look at him. There was the girl, dancing provocatively yet out of rhythm. There was the dude in gym shorts, thinking wearing gym shorts out for a night on the town would be acceptable. There were the drunk people. There were the very drunk people. And then there were the very drunk people.
It all felt so ... unnatural. Or, well, at least unnatural for a guy my age who is frightened by his own reflection and is so out of shape, he sweats at the thought of leaving the house.
“Why would people do this?” I pretentiously wanted to ask to nobody in particular before I realized how out-of-touch that sounded. Of course people would want to do that. It was a Saturday night. Downtown. In a city. Around midnight. There was a DJ. And colorful lights. And a full crowd. People shouldn’t be judged for their simple desire to have fun, no matter what their definition of “fun” is.
So, if having gin and tonics spilled on you, thinking Pitbull writes great songs, paying seven bucks for a beer and waiting 25 minutes to use a restroom means “fun” to you, God bless you. Soak up the fun while you can, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You’re young, vibrant, hopeful and naive, and you shouldn’t take any of that for granted (especially the naiveté, which can be such an underused virtue).
As for me ... well, a Saturday night at The Cellar Door not only reminded me of my age, but it also prompted me to wonder about my own definition of fun, which, all things honest, I couldn’t really define. Those things change over time, and while I can’t quite muster what fun means to me these days, I can at least define what it is not. And what exactly is it not?
Feeling too old to do something. Oh, how youth truly is wasted on the young.