I Think I’ll Pass…

For me, one of the best parts about growing older is no longer feeling the need to keep up with current trends.  The only social media I use is Facebook; I recognize almost no one in People Magazine; my home decorating style is hopelessly old-fashioned, and I never follow the latest fashion styles. (I don’t own a single pair of skinny jeans.  Partly because they don’t look comfortable, but mostly because the world has enough problems these days without anyone having to look at me stuffed into a pair of skinny jeans.)  In most areas of my life, I’m able to easily ignore fads and trends, and am quite happy to do so.

Sadly, some trends are easier to avoid than others.  My husband and I enjoy dining out, and  up until a few years ago, we used to especially enjoy trying to new restaurants.  We’re lucky to live in a large city where new restaurants open frequently, and it was fun to find a new place to eat that offered great food, good service, and reasonable prices. The problem is, most new restaurants also tend to be rather trendy, and I don’t particularly like, or even understand, most of the new trends in dining out.

IMG_1387Some I find simply annoying, like referring to the person standing behind the bar as a “mixologist” instead of a bartender.  Isn’t mixing drinks what bartenders have always done?  I know that many new restaurants and bars offer a huge array of complicated drinks, but I honestly prefer a simple glass of white wine with my meal.  And I don’t like feeling guilty about wasting the talent of the restaurant’s “mixologist” when I order it. (Although my son made up for it when we took him out for his birthday dinner and he ordered a smoked martini.  And yes, it was actually smoking when it came to the table.)

Other trends I find truly off-putting, like the new “communal table” seating.  I don’t go out to eat because I want to be squeezed into a bench at a long table that reminds me of lunchtime in my high school cafeteria.  I don’t like having to watch what I say because I know the strangers on either side of me can hear my conversation perfectly, and might even decide to chime in.  Nor do I want to know all the intimate details of their lives, unless they’re up to something especially interesting or illegal.  Also, I don’t want to be sitting close enough to other diners that I’m not only tempted to steal a french fry off their plate, but I’m actually able to do so if they are silly enough to look away for a second or two.  Fighting temptation is not one of my strong points.

And it might be my age, but I don’t like the high ceilings, concrete floors and general industrial warehouse decor that so many new restaurants choose, because it means the noise level in those restaurants is really, really loud.  My hearing is still pretty good, but in those settings, I find myself asking my husband and friends to repeat themselves far too often.  Sometimes I just give it up and smile and nod at whatever they are saying, hoping they aren’t asking for a loan or if I’d like to babysit their grandkids for a week while they go on vacation.

These days, it’s become fairly rare for my husband and I to try a new restaurant, as we find ourselves sticking to a few “tried and true” favorites where we know the noise level will be low, the tables set apart enough to ensure a private conversation, and no one is pressing us to try a drink that emits smoke.  I know that someday, the latest trends in dining out will probably be something more to my liking.  I also know that I’ll need someone to tell me about it, because, as is the case with most new fads, I probably won’t be paying attention.

That’s Just Not My Style

One of the distinct advantages of being middle aged is having seen so many trends come and go that I no longer feel the need to follow any of them.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a decorating trend, a new clothing fad, or a new food that all the best chefs are crazy about, I’m not jumping on the bandwagon unless I actually like it.

When I was in younger, I did tend to follow new trends, believing that what was new and wonderful today would stay that way well into the future.  Young people can be very naive that way.  I can remember when I thought white zinfandel was the best wine,  popcorn ceilings were cool, huge floral borders were pretty, and worst of all, that I actually looked good with my hair permed.  (I didn’t…see photo below.)   It’s cringe-worthy now, but at one time it was all very much in style.

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I’m not so easily fooled these days.  Chefs may be putting fried eggs on everything from hamburgers to salads, but that doesn’t mean I have to order them.  I still believe fried eggs are for breakfast, to be served with toast and bacon.  And while I enjoy bacon, I only eat it with the afore-mentioned eggs, in a sandwich, on a pizza,  or occasionally on a cheeseburger (for those times when I want to consume a week’s worth of calories in just one meal.)   Just because it’s become trendy to put bacon in everything from jam to ice cream doesn’t mean it belongs there.  I remember spending hours in the dressing room during my early twenties, trying to stuff my pear-shaped figure into the stylish “boy-cut” jeans.  Now leggings and ultra-tight jeans are in style, but I don’t waste my time trying to find a pair that looks good on my chubby little legs.  Straight-cut is still good enough for me.

I’ve lived long enough to know that I have the right to evaluate each and every new trend that comes down the pike, and to only join in when I want to.  Those of us who are middle-aged remember the avocado-colored appliances, the sunken living rooms and the “flocked” Christmas trees of our youth, so we know that just because something is called new and stylish, it isn’t necessarily in good taste. We’re still free to enjoy the trends we like.  But when a new trend doesn’t suit us, we can just ignore it, knowing that it will be replaced by yet another fad soon enough.  And this time, there won’t be any incriminating photos floating around.