Weekly Wire
Memphis Flyer Parent-Rearing

By Rebekah Gleaves

APRIL 17, 2000:  The other day my mother asked me about the effects of Ecstasy. It turns out, she had been at a party and someone had offered her this drug closely associated with the rave culture. She turned it down but was clearly still curious.

I told her what I knew about it and then quickly followed that with, "But Mom, if you still want to try it, let me know. I don't want you doing that stuff around strangers."

Scarcely had I hung up the phone when it occurred to me that I had just given my mother a Y2K replica of the drinking lecture she gave me in high school. You all remember the "I'd-rather-you-drink-here-at-home-than-somewhere-out-in-the -streets" speech. Typically that was followed with the "If-you're-ever-too-drunk-to-drive-call-me-to-pick-you-up-and-I-won't -be-mad" speech that no one ever really believed.

Later, as I recounted the story to my sister and we giggled over the image of our 50-year-old mother potentially donning baggy jeans and a baby T while sporting pigtails with a pacifier in her mouth as she "raved till dawn," it occurred to me that enough was enough.

We Gen X'ers have had it, and yes, I can speak for my entire generation. It was bad when our Boomer parents traded in the wood-paneled station wagon for a sports car, effectively relieving themselves of carpool duty forever. It was painful when Mom and Dad split up. It was really awkward when they both began dating people young enough to have worn REO Speedwagon T-shirts while in high school.

But now as our generation begins having children of our own, must we stay up nights wondering if our parents will get in okay? And what about grandma and grandpa? If mom and dad are out sipping martinis in the newest hot spot, who is going to take care of the grandparents?

Of course, I'm generalizing. My own parents really aren't this bad. But as a twentysomething who spends a fair amount of time taking in the night life, I think I'm qualified to reflect on what's out there.

The escalating divorce and re-divorce rates in the Baby Boomer generation have left the singles scene heavy on the over-40 crowd. And while the bars are certainly open to anyone over 21, there is little more pathetic than watching an over-50 male drool after an under-30 female.

As if their behavior weren't bad enough, it seems like my parents' generation will stop at nothing in their quest to stay young. For every 22-year-old wannabe playmate who gets a boob job, I'd swear there are four 40-something-year-old women going under the knife to rid themselves of crow's feet, tuck a tummy, and raise their breasts.

Meanwhile, the amount of money young guys spend on hair gel, tanning beds, and tooth whiteners doesn't even come close to what their daddies spend on Rogaine, Viagra, and bar tabs for those under-30 women they're attempting to take home.

Now that growing old gracefully is as antiquated and unpopular as the Edsel, it seems that vanity is clearly no longer a playground solely for youth.

It only stands to reason that President Clinton's approval rating scarcely budged during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. While his female contemporaries may have feigned scorn, secretly they shared understanding glances. And while male boomers expressed their mock disgust, privately they reveled in the knowledge that finally there was a president to whom they could relate.

During all of this, much fuss was made over poor Chelsea. "How will the girl deal with the knowledge that her father fooled around with someone only a few years older than herself?" everyone wondered. Well, if Chelsea is like the rest of us, she'll pretend she didn't notice it and turn back to the beer that the old guy across the bar just bought for her (after all, a free drink is a free drink), while worrying and hoping that her parents will grow up okay.

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