Last night’s party at Glenn and Jo’s house was a lot of fun. The food was great, and the company enjoyable. It was a real mix of people, with ages ranging from the 20s to the 50s.
I was struck by how people behaved when it came to the ‘entertainment’ portion of the evening. It was the older crowd that got up and performed: Doug played his guitar, Linda did a belly dance, Joe told a hilarious story in English and Gwitchin, I played the piano, and Glenn and Jo recited poems. The younger people, with the exception of one who recited some Dr. Suess, all said they were too shy. Even people who are normally out-going and appear self-assured in any other circumstance I’ve seen them in, suddenly became uncomforable in front of what was a friendly and supportive crowd.
Talking about this with Joe after we got home, we figure there are two possible explanations: one, as we become older we just become more comfortable in our own skins. This is one of those times when I’m grateful to be ‘of a certain age’. While I would like to have my 25-year old body back, I’m very happy to have shed the angst and self-doubt of earlier years.
Our second theory is that the people in their 40s, 50s and beyond still come from a time when house parties often included some kind of self-entertainment. It was pretty natural for someone to pull out a guitar, fiddle or harmonica, sit down at the piano, or launch into their repertoire of ‘party’ songs. While I’m sure this is still done in some households, I don’t think it’s nearly as common nowadays. Perhaps this is a disappearing art that comes with the advent of computers, video games and the like. If so, it’s a very sad loss.