Opinion: Someone else’s turn to be hip


One of the benefits of getting older – or, as I prefer to think of it, getting a few miles on your personal odometer – is that you don’t have to worry much about being hip. Breaking a hip, maybe, but not being hip.

I’ve lately had occasion to observe today’s hipsters from a close distance and you know what? It seems like an awful lot of work to me – being in the right hipster places, sporting the right hipster clothes and haircut, and most importantly showing the proper hipster attitude of bemused detachment. It looks just exhausting, carrying around such a big load of Hipster Responsibility.

I was in a downtown Indianapolis hipster bar and the place was just swarming with people doing and saying and being All The Right (Hip) Things. Let’s talk about the guys, since I saw more of them than women (I think that’s because women aren’t as easily taken in as guys, but that’s a subject we can explore some other time.) To a man, they were all wearing the same uniform:

1. Hair cut super close around the sides and left long on top. The last time I saw a haircut like this was on Humphrey Bogart in an old prison movie. As they were taking him to the electric chair.

2. Skinny jeans. Which in most cases were on skinny people, luckily.

3. Tight sports jackets that were considerably shorter than anything in my closet, hanging not quite midway down the butt of the skinny jeans. I guess it looks cool to other members of the tribe. To me it looks like someone has outgrown his clothes.

4. Purple shirts. And ties. There was a preponderance of purple.

And as I watched these guys milling around, drinking the right drinks and all basically trying to out-hip each other, I laughed.

Not at them. OK, well, maybe at some of them. And especially at the older guys, the ones approaching my age, who were trying to fit in with the young crowd.

But mostly I was laughing at me.

First, I laughed because I was having such a harrumph of a reaction to a harmless display of today’s fashion. I felt myself turning into the old man sitting on the porch yelling at the kids to stay off the lawn. Harrumph harrumph harrumph.

Second, I laughed because I remembered how hard I once worked to be hip, and how ridiculous I must have looked in my uniform:

1. Hair not cut at all but grown into a long, luxuriant mop.

2. Jeans with bell bottoms so big you could easily shelter a family of four in one leg.

3. Gaudy jackets with lapels wide as airplane wings. Or even better, Nehru jackets.

4. Purple shirts. And ties. There was a preponderance of purple.

Ah, youth. A time for a young man to sow his wild oats and look ridiculous.

And so it goes, from generation to generation. As the French say: Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose – loosely translated as “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

The cycle goes around and it becomes someone else’s turn to be hip. Or, viewed another way, someone else’s turn to do all that work. And as an older guy I say they’re welcome to it. Harrumph.