Ugly Is the New Beautiful:

Welcome to the rest of your life, or at least 2003

The kids are alright, and so is everyone elseOn New Year's Eve, my friend Tim declared 2003 the year of "Fuck, yeah" (as opposed to last year, which felt a lot like "Oh, fuck -- no!"). Of course, he hadn't slept in 24 hours, he was well liquored up, and all his friends had commenced kissing each other.

After futile attempts to find a cheap cabin out of town, we'd settled on a party in the Outer Sunset, where the host promised a healthy stock of hip hop chestnuts like 69Boyz's irresistible 1994 number "Tootsie Roll." We arrived around 11 p.m., in two separate vehicles. "You guys chose the right car," Rolf mumbled upon entering the house after Tim and me. Apparently, his fellow passengers had decided he needed lipstick and had attempted to apply it while the car was in motion. He looked like a plague victim, with large purple pockmarks and streaks across his cheeks, forehead, and neck.

Last year at this same host's party, we'd caused a fuss by arriving with a suitcase, which we stashed in the kitchen and furtively pulled supplies from. This year we brought the case again, but since few sequels are better than their originals, we displayed its wares, which included beer, name tags, and sundae toppings. Soon, many partygoers sported tags ("My name is Charlotte, and I'm a herpetologist") on their chests and squirts of whipped cream in their hair. Then the lipstick came out again, and we coated people in magenta goop.

After a ball made of plastic champagne glasses slid down a cable at midnight, everyone started locking lips, only this time around there was a mad tangle of ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends and new boyfriends and new girlfriends. As the bubbly flowed, Kathleen initiated a chant of "Polyamory!," and the new year began with an odd glow. "This," I thought, "is what parties should be like."

Frankly, I was sick of gatherings at which everyone stood around and sneered at each other, until the beer or drugs kicked in and a couple of people went home together while the rest trundled off to masturbate or consider accepting a sperm donation.

"What's wrong with kids these days," I'd think, "don't they know how to have fun?" Oh, sure, I sound like a grumpy old man -- but that's because I am one. And I'm not alone. Everyone on or over the cusp of 30 seems to be complaining about the music scenesters, especially the Arrow Bar's Thursday night "Finger" crowd. The kids are too snotty and insidery, they say. They're wasting their early 20s trying to get drunk and laid rather than making anything of lasting value, and their fashion sense is très horrible. As Loudon Wainwright III once sang, "Sound like sour grapes?/ That's just what it is."

Remember when you were in high school, and you said, "One day, I'm going to move to San Francisco and get some funky clothes and a new haircut and piercings in weird places and start a band or just go listen to bands, and no one will know I wasn't always cool because I'll act cooler than everyone else"? Well, even if you accomplished that rare feat, those days only last so long. People have a window of hip opportunity, and even those who make the cut usually get only a couple of years in the spotlight. S.F. is a transitory town, with younger, hipper dudes and dudettes flowing in constantly, like cowpokes on a stampede. To those folks watching their herds dwindle, all I can say is, "Welcome to the rest of your life."

The best way to smooth the transition into your 30s is not to fight the flow. I know a mod who recently ditched his sharp suits and colorful cravats for the nouveau-wave look of tight T-shirts and neckties, and he looked ridiculous, like a walrus trying to fit in at the monkey house. So here are my suggestions for the new year, for aging hipsters and snotty newbies alike: Screw fashion -- let ugly be the new beautiful. Instead of spending 30 minutes giving yourself faux bedhead, just stop washing and combing your hair. Wear clothes that fit poorly or clash mightily, put lipstick on your forehead, dance when no one else will, listen to music unironically, and, for God's sake, kiss your friends and neighbors. Fuck, yeah.

 
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