Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Welcome To Your Carlsberg Years

I was lingering at Starbucks recently and ended up listening to a bunch of girls (sidebar: when I re-read that sentence during the editing process, I recognized that it made me look a bit creepy, but seeing as I’m gay… I think I can get away with it) discuss their university mid-terms and the logistics of the CGPA.

These twenty-something’s were complaining about their friend Jessica because she had a 3.8 CGPA and may have slept with a bunch of dudes on their reading week ski trip.  Although I don’t know her – I agreed on principal: Jessica seems like a total skank.  

Anyway… as these girls discussed the rest of their semester – I couldn’t help but hearken back to my own tenure at McGill.  I contemplated joining in on their conversation and asking if we had any of the same professors or had taken the same bird courses (The Chemistry of Food and Children’s Literature were classics of my day) but soon my memories from McGill started to coalesce into one. Did the kegger where someone showed up in a rented chicken costume happen in first or second year? And what was the name of that hot CanLit TA who used to wear those skimpy white t-shirts which highlighted his un-TA like biceps? If anyone reading this took CanLit with me in second year (I think) and remembers who our TA was – I’m totally down for a good old Facebook creep, which I remind my dearest was a totally foreign concept until my final year of McGill.     

As all of these memories started to puddle together I realized that I have been an alumnus of McGill – a school Marge Simpson once referred to as the Harvard of Canada (which prompted) Lisa Simpsonto say: anything that is something of the something isn’t really the anything of anything, longer than I had been a student there. And yes… I know that nothing dates someone more than a Simpsons reference.  

And so as I sat there, lamenting my own misbegotten twenties, I did what any self-respecting man sitting alone in Starbucks does: I pulled out my iPhone (which truthfully, I can barely use) and texted my best friend, asking her: when did we get so old?

Her reply was frank: somewhere around 2007.  

I didn’t disagree with her; in fact when a co-worker told me she was turning 23 – all I could think to quip was the infamous Jessica Simpson line where she says: I’m almost 23, which is almost 25, which is almost mid-twenties 

Being the cunning pop-culture linguist that I am I dropped the J Simp rhyme only to find that my joke was met with a resounding thud; barely anyone I work with remembered Jessica Simpson as a poor man’s Christina Aguilera (who herself a poor man’s Britney Spears). 

It appears that Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey have been sent to pop-culture heaven only to be replaced by Kris Humphries and that damn Kardashian.  

When I was 18, my older cousin Janice admitted to me she and her husband had finally and quite sadly stopped listening to Montreal’s modern rock station, realizing that most of the bands they liked had at some point migrated to the classic rock channel.

I vowed at the time that this would NEVER happen to me!  And while I still listen to Kiss 92 and Mix 99 (sorry – Virgin Radio) in an attempt to learn the lyrics to the latest Nikki Minaj and LFMAO song I honestly don’t think I’ve moved past Britney Spears (pre-crazy), the halcyon years when Justin Timberlake’s music consisted of more than just a cameo on SNL, and when Lady Gaga was just a speck on the horizon of Avril Lavigne’s still relevant career and when Lana Del Ray was but a phase in the Mar Del Ray retirement community where my grandmother lived. 

As my friend Brandon noted recently - we have about 15 years max to learn how to helli-ski before we become too much of an insurance risk.  Suddenly he noted there wasn’t that much time to learn how to golf, solidify our careers, become bad-ass boxers, have kids and do all of the things one is supposed to do before the onset of middle age, abdominal fat and the contemplation of botox. 

I think I’ve entered into what a Canadian marketing team once referred to as Carlsberg years.  The Carlsberg Years, a late nineties/ early millennial advertising campaign, targeted late twenty and early thirty something men with taglines such as: "You and the bank own a lovely home. Welcome to your Carlsberg Years."  A commercial from the same campaign showed a group of male friends selling their university furniture (think street signs as art) before they helped each other move in with their girlfriends.  Another advert showed a man and woman sneak into a dirty motel, before ending with the tagline: “A friend of mine tried to tell me that the best sex you’d have was with your wife? Welcome to your Carlsberg years.” 

Now I know… I know what you’re saying: 30 is old?  Well… it isn’t in subjective terms. However, only as you get older, and only as you reach your Carlsberg years, do you realize that we are a culture that fetishes youth.  (Groundbreaking analysis, I know)

But while this not-so-earth shattering analysis may seem obvious to a twenty nine-year-old, you definitely don’t realize this when you’re 24 or 25. At that time you’re too busy imagining how amazing life will be when you’re 30 that your thoughts are colluded by thinking about all of things you’ll have accumulated by the time you reach 29; the stuff you’ll have done; and picturing the cool Friends-like (I’m really owning these out of touch cultural references by the way) loft you’ll be living in. 

The reality of your Carlsberg years is that by the time Friday night roles around you’re so tired from the work week that you have to drag yourself out of a post-work nap to make it downtown to your friends 30th birthday where people go home early because they’re responsible adults and want to go to a farmer’s market on Saturday morning or even worse – they have to put on a finishing coat to their spare bedroom. 

Your Carlsberg Years are when you suddenly become aware that two-thirds of NFL quarterbacks are younger than you. And telling people that you think Tim Tebow is hot isn’t just gross because its Tim Tebow; rather, it’s disgusting because Tebow is 22 and it’s not like if I randomly met one Thursday night at Woody’s and charmed him with my wit, banter and thoughts about the Greek debt crisis, he’d show me what he means by tight end, it’s like: dude – Tim Tebow was 8 when you were 16.  Stop perving. 

Let this blow your mind for a bit: Rihanna is 24.  She’s sold more than 25 million albums. Just what pray tell have you been doing with your life?

But perhaps the saddest self-actualizing moment one experiences upon entering your Carlsberg Years is related to your sexuality.  Because not only does our society fetishize youth – our own self conception of sex is wrapped up in that fetish too. 

This situation may be more acute in the homosexual community wherein both the object of desire and objectifier are of the same age.  Take gay porn for example, not only are you, the gay man, watching a young man (how do I put this politely) get buggered –  you’re also objectifying the active participant who is just as young and nubile as the passive participant.

Unlike straight porn where part of the arousal comes from the fact that you are watching a fairly nondescript man have sex with a lady with large breasts (that was originally written as “bone some chick with large tits, before I thought better of myself)  – both parties in the gay pornographic setting have about as many six packs as you used to buy for a Friday night house party.  In fact both of their bodies look better then you ever did at your youngest, slimmest and twinkiest. 

And while the hottest sex you have may be at 30 and it may be with your wife (or partner) you will also realize that society (as a whole) still appreciates the 22 year-old that you will never be again. 
And that’s why the Carlsberg Years campaign seems a bit trite: you and the bank DO own a really nice… condo or you and the bank own really nice semi-detached with an unfinished basement and knob and tube wiring. 

So to all of those who are wondering about how their CGPA is calculated those of us in our Carlsberg Years just want to tell them that it doesn’t matter, because eventually, they too will be sitting in Starbucks asking Siri just what the Carlsberg Years actually are.