Somewhere along the line, I became "establishment."
Inevitable, I suppose, since I'm now approaching 58 years of age, that eventually I would come to represent mainstream values and mores within the larger culture. Though I still often think of myself as representing social rebellion, this of course can't be the case from the perspective of current young adults, whose ranks I left quite awhile ago. Still, directly confronting the fact that I'm now part of the ancestral generation has come in fits and spurts. I got a glimmer of it some years ago when realizing that my soon-to-be fully grown kids were now sharing secret jokes at the expense of their parents. But that actually made me smile a little; I enjoyed the idea of them sharing a reality that excluded the responsible adult world, much the way we did during the 1970s.
And I remember getting another strong whiff of it on the commuter bus once, where a young woman, recognizing my middle-aged weariness, tried to give up her seat to assist my aching knees.
On Friday when I came back from a late lunchtime walk and passed through the lunchroom about 1:30, the young 20-something office workers all fell silent and looked at each other a little nervously. Their jovial lunchtime banter ceased for just a little while. I am now, you see, the cat who ensures that the mice don't play too much during working hours. And it's true that I sometimes do a "bed check" both at the start of the day and the end to see who is being diligent and who is slacking off. I smiled in amusement at their discomfort, and walked on. And I wondered if they had any clue about what I was really thinking that day, which wasn't concern for their productivity at all.
"What the hell is wrong with these kids today?" I thought to myself. "Why in the world is nobody calling in sick on a beautiful sunny Friday in October, when there's no deadline of any kind?"
Perhaps better not to let them into my head, though.