I’m that Tired Guy the one who has been in absentia for far too long, at least according to the three people who actually follow this blog. I’m that Tired Guy so full of 80s angst right now but tragically no John Hughes around anymore who could direct the perfect film about it all.
Back in the day we had some core story-lines. There was the geek (or was that “dweeb”?) who desperately wanted to hang with the so-called “cool crowd”. We had the troubled outsider pining away for the cute girl far above his own social status. Then there was the alternative girl struggling to maintain her place in the universe yet swayed by the pretty smile of the rich boy. Some wanted to be just one of the guys, earn a spot on the Greek Council, create the perfect girl, ski the K-12, celebrate a birthday, even collect butterflies and play football. Boomboxes had so much more meaning then.
And all my instincts
And the grand facade
So soon will burn
Without a noise
Without my pride
I reach out from the inside
And always our intrepid hero (or heroine) endured faithful yet hapless side-kicks, convoluted schemes, weird science, wonder joints, unconventionally conventional wisdom, music, hilarity and mayhem and finally acceptance that only the 80s cinematic visionaries could reproduce.
So where am I going with this?
Pining for yesterday is wasted effort. Fond reminiscing is not. Of course most days we all live in the real world…unless you’re a Tired Guy like me.
Let me explain. No it would take too long. Let me sum up.
Perception is not solely limited to four years wandering the hallowed halls of Ashland High School. I would be naive to suggest otherwise. However, regardless whether you were a card-carrying member of some breakfast club or simply found yourself on the outside looking in, the seminal time of high school shaped a portion of who you are today.
(Right now I’m a rhombus. Back then, a square. No surprise right? But I digress.)
Some embraced their burgeoning sense of self-realization during that time using it as a solid foundation to achieve success in the subsequent phases of their lives. From college and grad school to the workplace and building a family (or blazing a trail of broken hearts) your identity might have been drawn upon the experiences of high school angst giving you purpose. At the very least you had an entire decade of pithy, eloquent, somewhat sentimental, carefree and downright humorous quotable movies to prop you up and remind you the world could still be an ok place. You knew the lyrics to every song, could visualize every scene as if you had just watched it yesterday and figured everyone else embraced them the same way you did.
Eighties – I’m living in the eighties
Eighties – I have to push, I have to struggle
Eighties – get out of my way, I’m not for sale no more
Eighties – let’s kamikaze ’til we get there
And maybe, just maybe, everyone in your age bracket finally grew up and matured, accepting the social and cultural strata of high school had ended spawning a new era of equality and wholesome goodness.
Unfortunately cliques will always remain cliques, especially in today’s business world. Your boss likes you, tolerates you, or wants to find a way to get rid of you. The corporate machine has favorites and grinds into gristle the perceived failures. Nepotism does exist, and in some places thrives. Smart people are dumb outside of their element (which is probably true for most people but hear me out) while intellectual ingrates somehow command respect, dollars, luxury cars, titles, offices, executive assistants for their executive assistants and a continually growing sickly morass of “haves” and “who cares” versus “have nots” and “so whats”.
Whether you work in Dilbert’s cubicle farm, owe allegiance to the Michael Scotts of the world or just do enough to keep your office space and red stapler safe from the unwashed managerial caricatures of the 80s and today, ultimately keeping your soul intact is a daily challenge.
Now I’ve got a terminal daydream
Something that you’ll never know
I keep it right here in my backpack, mon
And take it wherever I go
With brown-nosing an ever-evolving art form, false acceptance is sad reality. The morons who annoyed you back in high school now wear designer suits and earn more money than you do. They drive nicer cars, have bigger homes, sport trophy wives and have perfectly white teeth.
Why is that?
Oh many reasons.
Maybe they’re smarter than you with a greater appetite to succeed at any cost. They probably know how to play the good ole boy game like a bridge grand master. They’re certainly better at golf, landing the tough sale, typing comprehensive spreadsheets (or having someone do it for them), saying nothing of substance at meetings and can drink more than anyone you know. They offer oily smiles, fake handshakes, their eyes bear curtains and if you often find yourself wondering where you stand then it’s already too late. For some reason they think you envy them, want to be like them, do the things they do, hobnob with the beautiful people. They are the standard by which everyone else, in business or in life, should be measured.
Still looking for that blue jean, baby queen
Prettiest girl I’ve ever seen
See her shake on the movie screen
Almost like an 80s movie.
Believe it or not, I have never wanted to be them.
But I have wanted to be like them.
(See what I did there?)
I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve wanted to be popular. Or date the untouchable, unreachable girl who made your legs turn to jelly whenever she flashed those baby blues. Who doesn’t want to be the wise heirophant doling out pearls of wit and witticism to a captive audience clinging to your every nuance? Or be the go-to guy in the office when the boss needs the best of the best to step up and take the lead?
So please, please, please
Let me, let me, let me
Let me get what I want
We’ve all been that 80s down-on-your-luck hero (or heroine) at some point in our lives. The feelings never truly fade. You want acceptance. You want to be liked, appreciated, respected. Success breeds opportunity and who doesn’t want to excel at their job, in their social arena, in a sport, at their craft? That’s why Nike’s run of “Be like Mike” was so successful. Put yourself in those shoes for just a little while and brush against greatness. But at the end of the day, I’m not like them.
I think that somehow
Somewhere inside of us
We must be similar
If not the same
So I continue
To be wanting you
Left of center
Against the grain
The problem is I don’t want to pay the price for sacrificing what I think is right, what is noble or what is good to achieve those results. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not some morally upright individual looking down from my thousand foot perch and showering the world with holier-than-thou epithets one might find in fortune cookies or the local left wing website.
Maybe it’s because I chose not to conform a long time ago. Oh I’m such the rebel! But honestly I don’t think anyone would classify me as alternative or non-conforming.
More like staid, consistent, nice.
That said when non-conformity becomes chic, alternative also grows dull. The whole point of non-conformity is difference, uniqueness, an intriguing sense you are following a separate path rife with adventure, danger or at the very least something new to experience. Or simply what you are doing is the right thing for you and you alone.
I know the preceding passages sound bitter and are full of logical holes. Believe me, I know.
And at the end of the day, that’s how I’ve been feeling lately. Sadly it hurts a lot.
Sometimes the sandwiches are tasty concoctions of quality meats, cheeses and the right kind of bread. Other times, well, even the Tired Guy gets tired and has to let off a little steam.
But I remain ever the optimist. This too shall pass, and I draw inspiration from a bevy of low budget whimsical larks whose messages and music remind me to this day it’s ok to wish for something, but always remember who you are, where you’re going and who is along for the ride.
The films from the decade of decadence still hold a charm that resonates with our generation. The music from that time is a reminder we all carry our own anthem with us. Whether you considered yourself alternative or popular, the one constant as we grow older is people can change their hair, their clothes, their musical taste, their eye liner or their politics but they cannot change who they are inside.
Don’t you try and pretend
It’s my beginning
We’ll win in the end
I won’t harm you
Or touch your defenses
And if that’s not enough there’s the simple fact John Hughes originally wanted Billy Idol to sing the quintessential song from his most quintessential movie (I’ve actually heard this version and it’s terrible in comparison). Billy couldn’t get it done in time so Mr. Hughes found another band.
And the rest was history.
How cool is that?