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Too young to be a baby boomer, too old to be a Gen-Xer

I was born in 1964, at the end of the baby boom generation.

Some studies include us 1964 babies when they talk about the generation born after World War II in such a rapid-fire and explosive fashion as if they were delivered by munitions experts rather than obstetricians.

Others, however, say the last baby boomer was born in 1963. This would mean I am not a boomer at all, but a post-baby boomer — a generation so insignificant it doesn’t get its own name, just a prefix.

I occasionally wonder to which group I really belong, until I realize that wondering about belonging to a group is one of those self-involved concerns stereotypical of yuppies in the baby boom generation.

There are times when I almost favor grouping myself with the post-baby boomers or the “posters.” But I have read that among members of this smaller generation now reaching adulthood, it is chic not to belong. The “little brother and sister” generation strictly shuns the practice of pigeonholing its members into stereotypical and acronymed categories, such as yuppies (young urban professional), dinks (double income, no kids), taslamads (twenty-something and still living at Mom and Dad’s) and especially prevalent in this sour economy, ninjas (no income: no jobs available).  

Some may see a dilemma facing us babies of 1964, but I look at it as a choice. If population experts can’t agree when the burgeoning baby population petered out, I will decide for myself which pack I will travel with.

It’s not an easy choice. From news and feature stories I’ve read, the two groups are very different and don’t get along well together. Poster children resent the culture of greed and “classic oldies” radio stations left by the boomers. Boomers hate rap and heavy metal music made popular by the younger generation. 

Those of us born in 1964 are caught in the middle. We’re left out in the cold, unable to choose a popular culture for fear of feeling unhip. If we listen to Jimi Hendrix or Peter, Paul and Mary, posters gag and stick their fingers in their ears. If we play Hammer or Metallica boomers bore us with stories of “when music really meant something.” 

Recently, my panic over my un-hipness reached its peak. I realized I didn’t know enough about the Woodstock generation to be an official baby boomer. I knew even less about the music and culture that would enable me to carry on conversations as a formal member of the poster generation.

So I subscribed to Rolling Stone magazine.

The magazine caters to both generations, providing stories about dead ’60s rock stars and the ’90s rap street culture. I read each issue cover-to-cover. Like an intravenous drip providing a hospital patient with precious nutrients, Rolling Stone was replenishing my decrepit hipness. With each issue, I could actually feel myself getting hipper.

Soon I was becoming bilingual. I could relate to Axl Rose as easily as Bob Dylan. I could relate to people in their early 20s because I could speak with some authority about lead guitarists Slash of Guns N’ Roses and The Edge of U2 and manage to keep my laughter about their names to under a minute. I could also relate to boomers because I could glibly recite the number one cause of death among dead ’60s rock stars — choking on drug- and/or alcohol-induced vomit.

But one day it all ended.

“What do you think of Jane’s Addiction?” said a post-baby boomer, referring to the underground rock group.

I was ready with an answer: “I think it’s great that the Lollapollooza tour that they performed in was one of the few money-making concert circuits in the nation this year. It really says a lot for the strength of underground bands. And Perry Farrell (the lead singer) — he’s just off the wall, I mean, a totally nude performance!”

“Yeah,” the post-baby boomer replied, “but what do you think about their songs.”

I suddenly realized that I I knew most everything pertinent about this and other groups, except for one thing — I had never heard a note of their music. I was so wrapped up in trying to become more hip by reading about these groups that I paid little or no attention to the heart of the matter — their music. And what was more, I didn’t care to give it a listen.

I was a phony. I was guy born in 1964 trying to masquerade as a baby boomer or a post-baby boomer. I am neither.

We infants of 1964 are lucky. We have invitations to two generational parties. But I choose to skip both. I’m staying home to burn my Rolling Stones. 

On second thought, I’ll just let my subscription lapse. Burning is too much like one of those baby-boomer, ’60s-style protests.

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