Artsy-fartsy parties were my mother’s pastime when both her and I were younger. It was the late 80′s and early 90′s. She was in her thirties and I was a pre-tween. She had just discovered the pleasures of staying young by acting young and I had discovered the pleasures of feeling young by being younger. It was a pleasure to have so many more years ahead of me than party-goers who dressed, talked, dolled up, and made on as if age weren’t a destructive force but a license to use their additional years to impart wisdom on all spheres of culture, but all the while they seemed unsure of their place, they seemed to know that there was another wave of youth coming; I liked being there to remind them, even if I never said a word. Often little children can make 20 and 30 somethings tremble simply by being around because the somethings know that the children will probably be around a bit more, and they will inherit their album collection at 50 cents a record.
The party talk was disconcerting because I have seen the same talk these days in my own generation and even worse I have been guilty of this reckless snobbishness myself, and often, mostly while hungry or drunk. There are always those who want to be both wise and young, experienced and hip. Artsy-fartsy parties share a common language. I wouldn’t realize this until later when I became aware of my own ridiculous whiskey babble. In ’89 I was just a captive observer, I had no idea how silly it all could sound. Take this desperate conversation I remember overhearing as I stood behind a large potted ficus .
- Man #1 -Where should I set my drink. Oh here we go. What was I saying. Oh yea, have you heard the new The The album?
- Woman #1 – No, I think I heard that song, but I haven’t bought the record.
- Man #2 – Oh, oh are you talking about the one on the radio, It’s My Wife, or something like that.
- Woman #1 – Is that it? I like that song.
- Man #3 (turning around from another conversation) No no, it’s It’s My Life and that’s Talk Talk.
- Man #1 – Shit that song’s awful, The The is so much better.
- Woman # 1 (digging through purse) Wait what is called again? I wanna write it down. I should get that record for Steve, he loves that song, if it’s the one I’m thinking of.
- Man #3 – No way, Soul Mining was a good album but The The haven’t done anything good since.
- Man #2 – Is that the one with the weird crayon painted face on it?
- Man #1 – No, that’s Infected and that one is really good. No way Talk Talk is better, that’s crazy. It’s so radio and not good college radio.
- Man #3 – I’ve heard Talk Talk on college radio.
- Woman # 1 – (writing on a matchbook) Infected Soul?
- Man #1 – You’re so wrong, Talk Talk is so cheesy compared to The The.
- Man # 2 – Wait, we can settle this. (Yelling into the kitchen) Nancy, can I look through Bob’s records.
And so the argument was sorted out. Who won? Sort it out yourself, it’s a whole new generation.