At 40-something, 'hip' becomes just another body part


The trick in life is to know when to get on and when to get off. It's a little late, but I'm getting off "Seinfeld."

I don't want to, but I've got to.

Like many of you, I want nothing more from life than to be hip. Like some of you, I am 40-something, meaning it's getting harder every day.

An example: I knew I'd heard the name, Toad the Wet Sprocket, but my daughter had to tell me it was a '90s rock group. You see. How would I know?

But some things I do know.

I knew "Seinfeld" early. Saw the man do stand-up in person, early, way early. Been there. Done that. Got into the show almost as soon as it happened. Knew, as you're supposed to know, that it's not Kramer you have to like -- he's too obvious -- it's George, the man who hurts the bubble boy.

It's too late now.

Everyone loves "Seinfeld." Loves the Sein. The show's in the Top 10 (so how good could it be?). There's a book -- a best seller, of course. I guess I'm supposed to like Tom Clancy, too?

Kramer's on the cover of every magazine and George is selling junk food. Too late. Too darn late.

It used to be just you and me and our friends, who knew the show was about us. Even if you were from Kansas, you found yourself talking with that New York, pastrami-on-rye, voice-climbing-to-the-very-end-of-the-sentence accent and always looking for a parking space.

Now, it's like "Star Trek," complete with "Seinfeld" trivia. Watch, very soon someone will ask you the color of the bike hanging in Jerry's apartment. Can the polyester-overload conventions be far behind? Are Michael Richards and Leonard Nimoy destined to do joint appearances?

What I'm saying is that now geeks are watching. People you wouldn't talk to in high school are watching. Your parents are watching, for God's sake. Everyone is watching. Here's how unhip it is: Jay Leno is watching.

This has happened to you, right? You're standing by the water cooler with your pals, talking about the show the other night when the boss -- the boss, who doesn't know Robin Williams from Esther Williams -- suddenly butts in and is talking about being the master of his domain and all you want to do is go throw up.

It's late, folks. It's 3 a.m. Turn out the lights. The party's over.

As you know, the point of "Seinfeld" is to be a hip show. But if everyone thinks it's hip, it can no longer, by definition, be hip. It's like Yogi said about the hot, new restaurant: Nobody goes there anymore; it's too crowded.

How can you like "Seinfeld" any more if everyone likes it?

"Twin Peaks" is a perfect example. If you were really hip, you watched the first show and then stopped. Because you knew. (You also knew to not even turn on "NYPD Blue.")

You've got to be ahead of the curve.

Here's how you get ahead: Dump Janet Reno and get behind Warren Christopher. Trust me on this. It's like buying Coca-Cola in 1910.

Develop your own theory on how George III went mad.

Don't get caught carrying around a Raymond Carver short-story collection that's not sufficiently dogeared. You can't afford to be a nouveau.

If you play chess, use a timer.

You think Conan's too goofy, but you dig Max.

Get off John Mellencamp, Connie Chung, JFK Jr., Sharon Stone, Kenny G, Rupaul. Get ready to jump off Beavis and Butt-head before the movie.

If you're starting a rap group, don't use "II" in the name.

Do not -- repeat -- do not ever mention dinosaurs. Or Macauley Culkin.

Even Nirvana's tired of Nirvana fans. Try this lyric from the new album: "I wish I could be like you -- easily amused."

Get off Heidi Fleiss and on Kathy Power.

Yasser Arafat? A close call, if not a close shave. It is definitely hip, though, to wear headgear in the shape of a nation.

Where I draw the line is with Dave. Everyone loves Dave now, but I'm going to ride it out, just like I did through Bruce's "Born in the U.S.A." period when he was nearly as big, if not quite as naked, as Madonna.

Dave-mania will end (although not before Chevy and Conan are unhappy memories) and be put to rest, just like the monkey cam was.

But until then, if you're over 30, don't talk to me about being a real Dave fan unless you used to watch the daytime show. I've got standards.

Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad