Back in the Day

When I pick my daughters up from youth group, a girl in Dr. Martens boots and a Nirvana t-shirt and flannel shirt approaches me. She heard that once, I wore shoes like that and listened to the kind of music she loves.

I play it cool. I remember when Nirvana came on the scene and we all sang “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in our flannel shirts. She wants to know if I’ve heard of a band called Nirvana.

Have I ever heard of Nirvana? I play it cool. All she sees is the old and preppy teacher, the one in glasses who makes after school snacks and wears responsible shoes.

Now, she wants to know if I’ve ever heard of a band called The Cure or Depeche Mode or The Smiths.

Again, I play it cool while she tests my knowledge of albums and hit songs, and I answer smoothly. When I mention the song, “There Is a Light that Never Goes Out,” she comes closer.

I’m now in. I speak her language.

“What about Panic! at the Disco?” she asks, testing me again.

“No,” I say. “I don’t listen to that band.” She smiles. I let her have something original for herself.

“Cool,” she says.

“Cool,” I say. And 30 years ago, I was.

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