Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 1, 2013

Nathan Payne: Maybe losing touch isn't so bad

Local columnist

---- — Something happened this week that made me wonder if I’ve begun to get old, if I’ve lost touch with the “in” crowd.

I guess if I have to ask it’s probably too late.

You see, I’ve been on my way to a premature style demise for a while now. Some years ago I decided skinny jeans are the most ridiculous fashion fad to be regurgitated from the bowels of history. And I refuse to allow my 5-year-old son, Spencer, to wear his baseball cap in any direction other than the right one. But something in a wire news story Monday sealed my fate.

”Twerking, what’s that?” I asked.

”It’s a dance move,” replied another Record-Eagle editor before he explained that Miley Cyrus made a fool of herself “twerking” Sunday night on stage on national TV.

The fact that I had to learn about the revamped form of butt jiggling from a man twice my age is bad enough, but once I Googled and watched the video, I realized I’m way out of my depth.

Note how I used Google properly as a verb in the context above. Surely that’s got to count for something, right?

Somehow, I find little reassurance in my stellar Google usage, and even less as the instant replay of the awards show scrolled across my computer screen.

Cyrus, who was in third grade when I graduated high school, shed most of her clothing save beige underwear and began to perform a song and dance that seems more appropriate for the stage of a strip club than a televised music awards show.

Immediately, I launched into one of those “back in my day” rants in my head. A few words into a mental tirade about how, when Will Smith still was rapping they just called it “booty shaking,” I stopped.

I’ve got two kids and I’ve been married for nearly a decade, but I can’t be that old, can I?

I was practically to the point of standing on my front lawn, shaking my fist at neighborhood kids who left footprints in my grass.

I rarely eat dinner before 6:30 p.m. and I can’t remember the last time I pulled the handle on a slot machine. Heck, cashiers and waitresses regularly ask to see my ID when I buy beer.

But two weeks ago, one cashier said something rather unsettling.

”Wow, you’re a lot older than you look,” said the woman behind the counter at Hansen Foods in Suttons Bay before she stuck my driver’s license back in my hand.

The scene played back a few times in my head as the images of Cyrus bumping and grinding ticked away on my monitor.

Then, just about the time I began to wonder if my favorite restaurants serve early-bird specials, it happened.

The video cut to a shot of Will Smith sitting in the front row at the awards show, mouth agape, reeling with the shock of what was unfolding on stage in front of him. The picture was nothing if not reassuring.

At least if I’m getting old and stodgy, I’ll have good company.

Reach Record-Eagle features editor Nathan Payne at