There’s a lot of frustration out there on the part of old people. I don’t blame them. They’re nearly 40, and irrelevant. What these sad sacks need to understand is that it’s their own fault. In the 90s, they were bouncing along the edges of the dot com bubble, thinking they were the next “me” generation, instead of what they were: chum for the Wii generation.
If this sounds harsh, it’s because I told you so. I saw this coming. I knew nothing was going to stop me from aging. I was bound to turn 40 in the late aughts. But I could prepare. Money wasn’t the answer; I knew I’d lose that in the recession. The solution was simple: artificial intelligence. Well, not artificial per se. More, an extension of my own brain. The science isn’t as complicated as it sounds, and I’ll come out with it: in my early 20s, instead of climbing the ladder of success, I started having kids, and I didn’t stop — until I knew I’d won.
The biggest problem old folks face is that Millennials don’t take them seriously. Why should they? Boomers, Gen X-ers and the literally deceased have always been grownups, and the one old rule that these youngsters do adhere to is never to trust anyone over 30. I didn’t turn 30 until after my Millennials were spawned, and as a result, I’m one of them. I grew up with them. Sure, there was an age difference, but we went through a lot together. A move from NY to LA, a divorce (mine), a move back to the east coast (theirs), girl problems, guy problems, love, loss and longing, you name it, we went through it. There’s power in numbers, we all realized, so we stuck together. Our elders didn’t understand us; they couldn’t imagine why we’d prefer to go through all this with our noses buried in increasingly smaller screens…but I’m not here to explain the way we think. I’m here to let the haters know not to let the driver’s license fool you. I know who Karlie Kloss is, and it’s not cause I read some article in Adweek. I just know.
My plan wasn’t without pivots, mind you. In 2005, things were going swimmingly. But I smelled something in the air, something I’d smelled in 2000, and again in 2004. Now the stench was deafening. Some people stashed money in their mattresses. I went to the mattresses, alright, but a different way: I had another kid. This time, I was an adult (and, presciently, remarried).
This time, I spawned a Gen Z’er and the only kind that made sense: a girl. I understood from the concept stage that this child would never consider me a peer. I would always be a lesser. But I had a few years before the recession would hit, and during that time, rather than sock away funds, I spoiled her rotten. Her mom didn’t have to work. She had whatever she wanted, and boundaries were for losers. When she got cast as a regular on General Hospital at 3 — and turned it down! — she had my full support. If I couldn’t be her buddy, I could at least be her benefactor. For a little while.
With my Millennial Army entering the collegiate phase of their training, and with my finances in a knot (I’d put them all through private school; grownups may not understand why, but we do), I had to do something crazy, something…other than having another child. I got back into standup comedy. I’d done well with it when I started, pre-children, but as I explained, I’d had a plan. Crazy as it was, that plan came to fruition when I threw caution to the wind and returned to the stage. Unlike young comics starting out, I had an audience, and a young one, my kids and their friends. My eldest son began performing as well. I was surrounded not only by supporters but by an informed regiment of social foot soldiers. I mingled with comics young and old, serving both as elder statesman and struggling newbie. Everything was coming along at the top of the command chain. But there was a void at the bottom.
It was time for a new hire. It couldn’t be someone established, someone who thought Snapchat was still cool. We needed fresh ideas, a new way of looking at the world. The gender didn’t matter: this was 2014, and this child would be an individual. “When it is old enough, it will decide for itself whether it wants to be a boy or a girl,” my wife pointed out. What mattered was that the Millennials needed someone they could learn from, and the Gen Z’er needed a partner in crime.
I won’t pretend it was easy, or cheap. But I was deep into my standup adventure and the great thing about comedy is that no matter what you do, you can’t possibly make less money. As I broached the new challenges, I reminded myself of my ability to see what’s coming. I drew on this near-clairvoyance, and saw THE NEXT PHASE. AND IT IS HUGE. Some think it’s a woman President. Those people live in the past. I already told you that gender assignment is a chapter in the history of self-identification, not its future. I can’t tell you what it is. All I can tell you, with a full heart and with the deepest affection — is that I’m done having kids. In the meantime, I will take solace in the knowledge that I am useful and appreciated. And I’ll continue to do what has worked thus far: seek out the counsel and approval of my Millennial Army. Because if there’s one thing we all know, it’s that, for whatever reason, they know best.