So, is it possible for a generation defined by the Neverlandish ideal of never, ever growing up to have a midlife crisis?
Ready or not, Gen X is confronting middle age in literature (The Ask) and film (Greenberg, Hot Tub Time Machine), according to the Times. The latter induces particular cognitive dissonance, writes A.O. Scott, because since when did John Cusack — Lloyd Dobbler! — become one of the older guys?
“And what do the rest of us have to show for aging along with them?” he asks. “That we saw Reality Bites or Say Anything when they first opened in theaters?” (Indeed, one of the most jarring things of late was to realise that I had become involved with someone too young to have Say Anything as a cultural touchstone, who did not see Lloyd Dobler, with boombox and shy, crooked smile, as the ne plus ultra of romantic love.)
I’m on the tail end of Gen X, but I was always a precocious child — at six, I favoured New Wave and P.J. O’Rourke’s columns in Rolling Stone — so perhaps I am experiencing this reckoning a decade early. Still, is it possible to revert to adolescence when you never bothered to mature in the first place? Can’t you just be forever young?