CHICAGO – On an otherwise quiet summer afternoon in a quaint lakefront Chicago neighborhood, thirty-five year old Rachel McKay jerked her Toyota wildly in front of an unsuspecting vehicle and pulled off to the side of the road. Inside the car, a bewildered McKay put her hand to her head and stared blankly out of the sunroof, contemplating her life. What prompted this sudden traffic evacuation and spur of the moment spiritual soul searching? It was the radio, which McKay had innocently turned to the local oldies station. As the gnarly, biting opening chords to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” emanated from her car speakers, McKay realized that the song that defined her generation is now considered an “oldie.” Rachel McKay, in her own mind, had become ancient.
“This can’t be happening” muttered McKay. But it was happening. She tried to do the math in her head to get a better grip on reality, but what she realized only made her mental breakdown worse: “’Smells Like Teen Spirit’ came out in nineteen ninety one. That was…twenty five years ago! Holy crap, that’s a quarter century…and I was already a decade old by that point. I am now so far removed from being young and cool that I might as well go buy an adult coloring book and curl up to some I Love Lucy reruns, because my life is over. ”
As the shock of her realization gave way to anger and depression, a rattled McKay realized that acceptance was the only path forward. She thought to herself, “I suppose soon I’ll be handing out Werther’s Originals every time my nieces come over. They’ll probably ask me, ‘Auntie Rachael, what is that old-timey recording you’re listening to on that antique CD player?’ And I’ll tell them, ‘oh that’s a vintage grunge band named Nirvana, from back when your Auntie was just a little girl…or maybe that’s Pearl Jam or The Smashing Pumpkins, I’m not sure. Your old Auntie Rachel’s memory isn’t what it used to be, and those bands all sounded the same anyway.’” McKay chuckled at her imaginary scenario, turned the keys to start up her car, and continued on her way to do whatever it is that old people do to have fun nowadays.