Saturday night was a rare treat. A friend of BF David's was celebrating his birthday at a small bar/club and we joined in the festivities. I had my fill of clubbing back in the day, so I don't go out dancing much anymore, and BF David was never the club type to begin with, but it was fun to do something different on a Saturday night. Plus, the people were friendly, the drinks were mixed well and the music early in the night was excellent.
A couple of hours later, the club began to fill up with a young hipster crowd and the energy changed into something a little more Trying Hard to be Cool. Be happy you didn't have to bear witness to the crimes against fashion (leggings, ill-fitting shirts, oversize belts, ridiculous wedge shoes). Even more entertaining than the parade of bad outfits were the social interactions. There was the usual air of awkwardness that hangs over young people that try to cover hide their insecurities behind bored poses and/or manic body language. Girls slouched against the bar in pseudo-boredom or smiled a little too hard. Guys tried to flirt with a casual aloof air, but still oozed a concoction of shyness, discomfort, and misplaced cockiness. One girl, heavyset and hanging out of her dress, gestured too much and talked too loudly, seemingly unaware that the guy beside her was paying more attention to her petite friend in the polka dot tube top. One guy was stooped over, talking to no one, on the outskirts, looking glum. I wanted to go over to him and tell him that things would be better in a few years, when he grew into his skin and gained some self-assurance. Of course, there's no guarantee of that.
BF David and I watched these kids, verbalizing our observations.
"Look at Pony Tail Guy over there; he let his hair down hoping it would make Polka Dot Girl more interested. Too bad she's ignoring him."
We winced at the mostly inept displays of the mating ritual.
"I'm so glad I'm not young anymore," said BF David (though he's only in his mid-30's).
"Me too," I nodded, relieved that, even though I was in my late 20's, I'm no longer as clueless as I was in my early- or even mid-20's (key word being "as"; I certainly still have my clueless moments).
Don't get me wrong, some of the most fun I ever had was in my early 20's. Yet even though life is less frivolous today (more work, less play; more salads and exercise, less drugs and alcohol; more sucking it up, less indulging in every emotional whim), I wouldn't go back for anything. Navigating those treacherous social and romantic waters can be hellish, especially when experiencing a significant amount of independence for the first time. Throw some insecurities into the mix and a know-it-all attitude and you have a bewildered peer group that has about as much stability as a Jenga game played by drunk people. I can't even begin to count the mini-breakdowns I had in college and the several years following.
It's so bizarre; these kids were less than a decade younger than me, but I felt as if an entire generation separated us. I don't mean to come across as uppity. Lord knows I'm still growing into my identity. But seeing such bravado and gawkiness sheathed in a veneer of glamour was fascinating and comforting in that I no longer have to stumble through such stilted courtship and social rituals. I'm old enough that I'm not in a hurry to grow up and young enough that I don't dread growing old. It's nice to feel in synch with your life's stage.