On Being Hip (When Your Hip Hurts)


By Neil Offen

I am part of a generation that takes Pilates, participates poorly in Pickleball and has heard, vaguely, of Olivia Rodrigo.

That is, like many of those in my generation, I am trying to remain as youthful as possible and hold on to my youthful past. But it’s hard, especially when the past happened back before we were paying attention. Plus, when you get a little older, there’s a lot more past to remember. And now there’s a lot more complicated present to deal with if you are of a certain age.

In addition to the old problems involved with getting older — increasing bodily frailty, faulty memory, regular root canals — my generation also confronts some unique challenges, including chocolate chip Cheerios, mounting LinkedIn requests from people you’ve never heard of and receiving mail with an invitation to a complimentary dinner where you can learn about cremation (I chose the salmon entree).

Oh, yes, and being targeted by a lethal virus.

Here’s the essence of the problem: Many of us are no longer young, but continue wanting to seem young. We really want to, for instance, go to that hip new restaurant, the one with the vegan-Asian-fusion-Caribbean-Tex-Mex-Korean-BBQ cuisine. But the print on the menu has gotten much too small, and we really don’t want to admit we have no idea what bibimbap is. Now, when we’re increasingly told to access the menu via the QR code, we can’t figure out how to access the QR code and keep taking pictures of our fingers.

Plus, we have noticed, the restaurant’s noise level is at def-con 3 and our hearing is now more often like deaf-con 1. 

Yes, we want to stay in shape or get in shape but can’t figure out exactly how to work the digital display on the elliptical. Some of us believe that Peloton might be a kind of melatonin.

Culturally, we want to watch “The Crown” when everyone has moved on to “Bridgerton.” We want to imagine we get all the pop cultural references in the skits on Saturday Night Live, but we don’t really, and anyway it’s on too late for us to watch it live. We’d love to join in that online critique of K-Pop but think everyone is talking about a kind of cereal.  

We have all these high-tech gizmos, not to mention several doo-hickeys, but when something goes wrong with our iPhone 32 or the programming of our vacuuming robot, we have to find a nearby 12-year-old to fix it.   

So, here is the question: How do we stay current and remain hip when our hips soon may have to be replaced because we keep trying to get to those 10,000 steps per day our Fitbits demand from us? 

How do we still count if we don’t have an Instagram account? How do we make believe we really understand text messages that include acronyms such as KMN?

(I looked it up; it’s “Kill Me Now.”)

IHNI. (I Have No Idea.)

Carrboro resident Neil Offen has written humor pieces for a number of different publications, in a number of different countries. His column appears twice monthly in The Local Reporter.

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