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Advice to the Youts

November 10, 2013

I broke from my usual habit of listening to either NPR or the Sirius XM “Caliente” station yesterday. I was on my way to see my great-nephews, and I thought I had better catch up on some of this modern music the kids are listening to these days, lest they find my quoting Talking Heads lyrics a year or two outdated.

(Note: I did not end up talking music with them. I did, however, advise Michael to become a petroleum engineer instead of a game designer, thus cementing my place in the pantheon of Stupid Adults).

I put on the Sirius XM “Hits” station and listened as long as I could stand, which meant I got to hear the song “We Own the Night” by The Wanted about five times in two hours.

As a certifiably old person, I have a new notes for the young gentlemen who wrote these lyrics:

“When my time is over, lying in my grave,

Written on my tombstone, I want it to say

The man was a legend, a legend of his time,

When he was at a party, the party never died.

And I will be remembered, for centuries of sand,

The man was a hero, a hero of the night,

When he was at a party, the party never died.


Dear Youthful People,

No one ever got famous for partying. There are some famous people who were also famous bon vivants, but they generally also had some other skill, like writing or singing or at the very least, being married to a person who was famous for some skill.

Also? Partying does not make you heroic. Saving people from burning buildings, pulling your buddy from out of the line of fire, even teaching a class of 30 kindergartners can arguably be heroic. Drinking too much and dancing on top of things not usually meant as dance surfaces? Not heroic.

Fun? Yes.

Worth doing? Certainly, but just because someone gave you a tiny trophy for coming to soccer games and standing on the field in an overpriced uniform while picking your nose doesn’t mean you get a Bronze Star for getting sauced and loud with your peer group.

Take some advice from your elders, those fabled stars of yore, the Black Eyes Peas. They have a party song “I Gotta Feeling” but they aren’t all braggy about their heroics.

Tonight’s the night, let’s live it up
I got my money, let’s spend it up
Go out and smash it like oh my God
Jump off that sofa, let’s kick it off

They want to live it up, spend their money foolishly, and possibly, and probably in an ill-advised fashion, leap off some furniture. They know they’re not going down in history. They know they probably won’t even remember what happened the next day. And that, my young friends, is a real party.

Listen and learn, children. Écoutez y répète.

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