May 2011

Youth Really Is Wasted on the Young

So I went to see the Legwarmers at State Theater a couple weeks ago. (For the uninitiated, the Legwarmers are a wildly popular ‘80s tribute band. They play ridiculously fun music from my teen years, in front of heaving, sweating, screaming, adoring fans (some of whom were likely in diapers in the ‘80s, but that’s okay … us kids from the ‘70s and ‘80s are a very welcoming and inclusive group).

I hadn’t been to see the Legwarmers before (although I have been to State before; I saw the original Star Wars there, forheavenssake, when State was a movie theater!), and at the risk of sounding even more ancient than my 40 something years, it was in many ways a shock to the senses. For instance:

The band started playing around 10PM. That’s usually when I collapse into bed.

They didn’t stop until about 1AM. About the only reason I’m up at 1AM these days is to tend to a sick child or, more recently, to rub a five year old’s rapidly growing—and painful—ankle and shin bones.

My knees can no longer handle dancing (well, more like jumping) for three straight hours. I wanted to ice them when I got home, but I was too tired.

If I could remember Important Facts as well as I could remember the lyrics to every song the Legwarmers played, I’d surely be insanely rich and incredibly successful.

I wasted my youth.

I say this after witnessing the never ending parade of Legwarmers fans who saw fit to dress not as fashionistas of 2011 but instead as teens of the 1980s. We’re talking hair sprayed bangs, pony tails growing out of the side of their heads, hair fried by curling irons to make it looked permed, pegged jeans, Cyndi Lauper bling, double Polo shirts with upturned collars, pearls with t-shirts.

This display of bad taste made me realize that the old saying really is true: Youth is wasted on the young, and although I’m a little embarrassed to admit that it took a Legwarmers concert, of all things, to help me recognize its truth, I’m grateful that it did.

I think back on my late teens and early 20s, and I remember a fit body that allowed me to drink an enormous chocolate milk shake every single day without consequence. A lustrous head of hair that didn’t sprout a single grey hair. No wrinkles. No freakish peach-fuzz-gone-wild facial hairs. No post-pregnancy varicose veins. No permanent under-eye circles. Perfect teeth, freshly out of braces. A back that never hurt. Knees that let me run for miles. And what did I do with all that bounty? Gave myself a perm, wore legwarmers over jeans, and truly believed that my life was ruined because my mother bought my sneakers at Kinney’s instead of at Foot Locker. Dear. God. What was I thinking?

As an older and hopefully wiser me, the whole escapade also made me wonder: How will my kids poke fun at their generation? What clothing or brand or style will they just have to have when they’re teenagers? What old favorite dress of mine will they one day hold up on its hanger—as they double over with laughter—and cry out, “You actually wore this?”

What hairstyle that’s so revered today will be snorted at with derision in another few years? Will perms make a comeback? Hairspray? Rat tails? Mullets?

And what song, from what band, will stop time for them and bring them back to one of their most perfect teenage moments? Will make them remember exactly where they were, whom they were with, and what the weather was like? Will make them nearly swoon with excitement as, decades later, they laugh open-mouthed, with their hands high in the air, as they gasp to their friends at a local concert hall, “Oh, I love this song!”


This article was originally published May 4, 2011 on

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