Now that I’m the wrong side of forty and I can see fifty looming on the horizon, it has got me pondering about appropriate dress sense and music tastes. Does my fashion sense and music choices need to be what is deemed appropriate for my age? Or can I say up yours and wear and listen to whatever I like.
The catalyst for this thinking was the recent commencing of Year 7 for my eldest son. He has just started senior school and I soon noticed when attending his cricket matches that all the men were wearing a uniform I was not party too. The uniform includes: Polo shirts, either stripy golf style or Ralph Lauren, Knee length shorts, combat or golf cut, Shoes, sandals (sometimes with socks) or leather deck shoes, Hat, wide brimmed or a baseball cap advertising and accountancy firm. I own none of these items. My summer wardrobe consists of a multitude of eclectic t-shirts, Short surf shorts or above the knee casual ones, Thongs (flip-flops for international readers) or sneakers. On my head is a range of trucker hats and Ray-ban wayfarers (matt black). I have to say, I felt kind of awkward. I was looking around thinking “I better pop down to Country Road or Galloways Golf store and have a makeover”. I felt the need to assimilate, too fit in.
This need lasted until my son was clean bowled and the game finished (yay). As soon as I was back in the car, I dialled in a bit of banging Rudimental, took off my truckers cap and thought ‘fuck that’. I’m not Zoolander, I don’t run around in high fashion (can’t afford it), I’m just a t-shirt and shorts sort of guy, they just happen to be slightly contemporary versions thereof. I don’t want to dress like my kids (they dress like me) and I don’t look like a hipster from Surry hills, but I do like nicely designed or creative things. I have over a dozen watches. Why? Because they look good. I have a decent range of sneakers. Why? Because they look good. I have over thirty t-shirts. Why? Ah you get my drift. I am comfortable in my clothing tastes. I can’t compromise myself and get into the whole golf thing or the winter version, which is rugby tops and comfy slacks, just to feel part of a gang I would never feel happy belonging too in the first place.
The same can be said for my musical mores. I was raised in London across the decades of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. I have 2 music mad elder brothers and thanks to them I was exposed to everything from punk, to new romantic, to hard-core dance music and the whole Madchester thing. As a teen and young adult I was obsessed by music. I’d buy the New Musical Express religiously and scour record shops for rare 12 inch (vinyl) white labels, looking for the newest and best thing. I’m not such a music nut now but I still have a good stock of the old stuff on my iPhone and I Shazam the shit out of Double J (radio station) looking for new and interesting stuff.
I couldn’t tell you anything about the latest pop music and I don’t just want to listen to stuff from my yoof, which seems to be how most men of my age roll. I’m always astounded when I meet other blokes who have decided to just stop seeking something new and refreshing and scuttle back to their favourite bands of the 90’s as if this was the only decent music made. I love finding new stuff and now that my eldest son is showing an interest in contemporary music we argue over the playlist in the car to our hearts content. Of course, I wouldn’t want to be that cool dad who’s actually a daggy dad, trying to go to gigs and clubs with his kids. God forbid, that is a step too far and they’d just embarrass me with their outlandish dance moves.
It seems that somewhere along the line, middle-aged men have a sliding door moment and they follow one path or another. Coincidentally, it’s normally around the time they have children. They think the emergence of a child signals that the AC/DC t-shirt needs to be packed away, the earing pulled out and that golfing polo shirts really are comfy and appropriate. That the Belgian hard-core house cd which livened up many a party is now terrible and you much prefer those lovely One-direction boys. I can’t, I won’t do it. If I want to sport a t-shirt with an outline of a crow on it, I will. If I want to sing along to Alt-J (they’re a band grandad) I will. If I’m still comfortable at 50 with this approach, I will and if I’m still alive at 60, I will. Put’s trucker hat on, tightens sneakers and storms off in a middle-aged grump. So there.