A Whisper on a Breeze
“Youth is a blunder, manhood a struggle, old age a regret.”
“Old age is like a plane flying through a storm. Once you’re aboard, there’s nothing you can do.”
This is a rewrite. After last night I had no choice but to go back and approach it from another angle.
The original intro went like this:
“When we’re young, all we can think about is growing up. Driving, sex, drinking, sex, smoking, sex, voting (for those of us who care), sex, college, sex, living alone, sex, making our own money, and sex. With vigor only a teenager can muster, we’ll proclaim, ‘I can’t wait!’
“Yet, when we’re older, all we want is to be young again, to relive those misspent days of youth. Recess, two weeks off for Holiday Break, two more for Spring Break, three whole months of Summer Break; cutting class with your closest friends; the first kiss; carefree sex in the backseat of your father’s Buick; staying up past midnight without having to worry about being tired the next day; staying out all night to watch the sun rise with your friends and sneaking in, hoping your parents don’t wake up to scold you; being able to get it up without a thought; drinking, smoking and more carefree sex. ‘Those were the days,’ we’ll dreamily mumble half to our selves, half to whoever will listen.”
But that’s all changed.
I first sat down to write this review on my twenty-fifth birthday, but thought nothing of it. With Vertigo Pop! London being all about British rocker Rocky Lamont, who’s just turned 60, it should have been a sign, but I was too blind to see the connection.
Then, last night, my brother made me feel old. Not that he hasn’t done it in the past. When he grew taller than me (who stands at 5’10”) and kept on going past 6’ (and I’m sure he’ll keep going from there), the memories of watching him learn to crawl and walk came flooding back. So I’m no stranger to this feeling.
Family and friends had gathered from not-so-far and not-so-wide to celebrate my sister’s eleventh birthday and my brother’s fourteenth. So already I’m feeling old because of the age gaps between my siblings and me. To add icing to this already towering cake, talking about sex with the adult family members is now commonplace. Five, ten years ago I would have been stared at with wide eyes and slacked jaws.
I’m an adult now. So what?!
No big deal. Really. I can accept this. At heart, however, I’m still a Toys ‘R’ Us kid.
But my brother—as much I love him—floored me yesterday when he couldn’t figure out how to use a bottle opener. And why would he know? He grew up in a world of wide-mouth cans and twist-off caps. Sure, I got to show my otherwise genius of a brother how to use a simple tool I’ve been using since I was in kindergarten—which I’m sure under other circumstances would fall under the heading of Bonding Moments—but it was right then and there that the generation gap was solidified.
In shock and awe I fondly remembered carrying glass bottles back to the grocer for a nickel each, only to turn around and buy another six-pack of Pepsi.
I know at some point in his life he’ll have at least one of these moments: where a niece or nephew, younger cousin, or even one of his own children will say or do something to take the youth out of his step, even if it is only temporarily. I could tell him he’ll have one of these moments, but, like when I was his age, he’d just shrug and walk away. And who could blame the kid? After all, he’s just a kid, even at fourteen. Especially at fourteen.
The other night—maybe a week or so before this fiasco—I fondly remembered my first girlfriend and my first kiss: I was 15. Gazing upward at the darkened bedroom ceiling, I wondered when my brother would start dating. Six months? A year? More? When I was his age, it wasn’t even a thought it my mind. The next year, however, things changed. I changed. Like a whisper hung on a breeze the years pass us by, until one day they echo back with such a resounding, almost haunting force.
We can’t relive our youth or even trade places with another, younger body, but that’s exactly what Rocky Lamont attempts to do in Vertigo Pop! London. And with a little help from a hookah and a stash of magic, soul-swapping marijuana he’s able to achieve his dream of youth once more, if only for a fleeting fifteen minutes.
Seeing as how stars will do anything to remain in the limelight—Mr. T shilling 1-800-CALL-ATT; MC Hammer proclaiming the joys of bankruptcy loans; Verne Troyer (forever known as Mini-Me) sitting alongside Houston Rockets’ center Yao Ming in a PowerBook G4 commercial—it should come as no surprise that some of them, fictional or not, would long for the chance to trade bodies with someone who’s still young and attractive.
Even though Rocky’s new body might be that of the young, no talent, street guitarist Sean Cody, the spirit and memories of a 60-year-old man remain. He clearly remembers the night when he and his band, The Idle Hands, “blew The Stones off the stage.” For the first time in Lord knows how long, he awakens with “quite [an] extraordinary erection”, and can do nothing but stare at it. He doesn’t touch it. He doesn’t allow his girlfriend to touch it. Rocky just stares.
In the end, once everything is as back to normal as it can get, everyone’s grown a little. Matured a bit. Even Rocky in his old age has learned a few life lessons—from his girlfriend, daughter, ex-wife, servant, and the young Sean. Vertigo Pop! London is more about growth than aging, and accepting changes for what they are: life experiences.