Throughout my life, I have always been one to wear cardigans. It doesn’t matter the venue – the park, a rock concert, a trip to the beach, you name the destination and I’ve got a trusty, warm, three-five button knitted hug closely in tow. I am drawn to their aesthetic appeal, of course, but they also provide me with easy adjustments to whatever climate I am in, because, with the pull a few simple buttons, I can slip in and out of temperature zones easily. Sure, a hoodie can do the same, but a hoodie may not transition quite as well in and out of various stops throughout my day: work, the grocery store, a fancy restaurant, an art gallery, a museum, you know, the usual places a parent of two has all the time in the world to go on a weekday, and let’s face it: the folks at ‘Chez Snooty Patoot’ my not appreciate my Rage Against the Machine sweatshirt the same way they would a nice herringbone button-up. Besides, stretching a hoodie over my head multiple times a day is only going to mess up my hair, and I spent a lot of time on that this morning.
Anyway, where was I going with this? Oh yeah: I’ve always worn cardigans and I’ve always been called out for it, with claims of being an out of place old man at, say, the Blink 182 concert. It’s never bothered me, though, as I’ve always seen it as either me being just that much further ahead of the trend, or an endearing quality that I can lean into equally for being a kind ‘Mr. Rogers’ type, or the grumpy ‘Walter Matthau’ type, when I need to exercise my curmudgeonly right to send back my soup for being too cold. It has always been a garment, a choice, an accessory, not an age defying trait. Sadly, however, I’m realizing this may no longer be the case, as I found myself this past weekend uttering, for the first time in my life: “Well, when I was your age…”
Despite whatever attempts any of us make, there’s no real way of stopping the aging process. Sure, we may remain young at heart, playful in spirit, and can be in the best shape our lives when we retire, but the reality is that we are always, in one way or another, getting older and the world, in turn, is doing the same. Not that I mind it most of the time, as I do very much enjoy this current stage of life, but I will also admit that I am falling further behind on what’s hip and with the times amongst the kids these days. For example: I don’t think people say “hip” and “with the times” anymore. I also, until recently, thought that a ‘reel’ was either for fishing or something you load onto the projector to enjoy the moving picture show; silly me to lean that it’s something entirely different that’s all the rage on the social these days. And don’t get me started on influencer culture: I don’t know what a Pewdiepie is, and every time I think I know how many Kardashians there are, another one pops up, yet I still don’t understand what it is they do. What’s the purpose of watching strangers unbox toys online, listening quietly to celebrities eat potato chips, what is a ‘micro-fashion’ trend, and when did Pearlcore become a word? None of these things make me feel as though older equates to wiser. If anything, I am that much more in the dark.
All of those curiosities and head scratchers are perhaps why I am loving this age with the girls so darn much. They are still innocent and unaware to all of this nonsense. We use our imaginations to play. Video games are either 8-bit pixelated characters you control with two buttons (the original RBI Baseball for NES played outdoors on a 200-inch projector next to a campfire is as epic as it sounds, by the way), or are songs you sing and dance along to while laughing your head off. Most heartwarming at this age: friends are people who know you and you physically spend time with.
As has been mentioned numerous times across numerous posts, we spend a lot of time together exploring, creating and playing in the spaces that surround us. This past weekend, as a send off to Summer vacation, I had asked the girls what they wanted to do and they, without hesitation, asked that we make a lemonade stand. I Immediately became more excited than they were to make it happen, and planning in my mind was well underway.
I loved running a lemonade stand when I was a kid. I’d set up at the end of the driveway with my friends and we’d spend a couple of hours pouring and serving as the neighbourhood meandered by, supporting our little entrepreneurial endeavour. It is a memory I suddenly found myself wanting to revisit and share with my girls, and so we started coming up with our strategy together, starting, of course, with the most important element: the sign.
We had a couple of signs in mind, actually, one for the stand itself and one to set up down the street to draw in the crowd, and it was that one that the girls tackled first. In my mind it seemed obvious what the sign should read: Lemonade, $0.25. Simple, cute, and classic, but also, as I learned quickly, way off base when you factor in inflation over the past 32+ years since I ran my little sidewalk business. It was through a random side conversation that I discovered the shocking rate at which a cup of lemonade can bring in these days. Even if you were to charge your guests $2 for an ice cold cup of lemonade they’d still be getting a bargain! A quarter, it would seem, is today what a penny was when I had my own refreshment booth set up at the end of the driveway. It was in this moment of realization that I found myself explaining to my kids how times have changed, and I went on some diatribe about appreciating what we have and how technology is too expensive and all-consuming and blah, blah, blah…which is when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror to see that, even on one of the hottest days of this summer, I was still wearing a trusty cardigan, and it suddenly carried new meaning.
All jokes aside; growing older, while at times achy, is actually pretty fun. I sincerely enjoy learning about the world through a different lens. And while I’m likely beyond the age where my antics could break the internet, it is pretty awesome to take part in what the girls are expressing interest in as their personalities continue to develop. Though we didn’t charge the $5 that apparently has become close to standard around here, I did recognize that $0.25 was perhaps undercutting our food costs, and we landed on what I think is a fair enough price for a cup real, fresh-squeezed lemonade. The girls had a blast, I got to revisit a number of fond memories, and I got to create some new ones, even at my age, building the whole thing together.