One Direction makes me feel old.
It’s not that I don’t “get” it. Oh, I get it.
I get the charm of a British accent. I get the infectious beats of their songs and the way their soaring harmonies can make a girl feel weak in the knees. I know the affect that a dimpled smile and rumpled hair can have on a lonely girl’s heart.
What I don’t get is why there’s so much swooning over men who look like little boys.
I’m sorry, but one of the primary aims of a boy band is to be sexually attractive. There’s nothing sexually attractive about Dickensian street urchins. The boys in the group seriously look like they should be extras in a Hallmark channel adaptation of Oliver Twist. They’re impoverished orphans in tight trousers who need haircuts and aid from child employment laws.
I keep wanting to invite them into my home so I can give them cookies and lemonade. They can regale me with stories about the middle school playground and I can giggle and assure them that the girls will be after them when they’re older. The girls are not supposed to be after them now.
You can imagine my surprise when I discovered that the amiable lads of One Direction are not in fact, twelve years old, but in their late teens and early twenties. I was in college when I was that age. I was sneaking $20 under my Boston University Student ID to a bouncer to get into nightclubs. I had opinions on the Peloponesian War. I knew about credit card debt and how to pay it off every month.
So, they’re not children, but they inexplicably look like children to me.
“I don’t get it,” I mentioned to my friend recently over cocktails. “Do they look like children to me because they all really do look like Dickensian street urchins or am I finally just really old?”
“I think it’s a little bit of both.”
I refused to accept that I was old, so I pressed forward.
“Like *NSYNC…when *NSYNC was around, they were around that age, and they looked “boyish”, but they were also styled like young men. Men!! Right? Men!!”
“I think it’s a little bit of both.”
“They look like children!!!! THEY LOOK LIKE CHILDREN!!! Did Justin Timberlake look like a child when he was in *NSYNC? I mean, a teenager, yes, but a child?? He had defined shoulders like a man!”
“Meghan, it’s both. You’re just old now. Deal with it!”
And then I crossed my arms and pouted and began to mourn the passing of my youth.
It’s close to impossible for me to fathom that I might be considered “old”. I’m the baby in my family by about fourteen years (meaning my sisters are all 17-14 years older than me), I was the youngest in my class in grade school and most of my best friends are older. I’ve always been the youngest in my group and it’s been hard in life to shake that “baby sister” mentality.
I seriously don’t even look old. When I nervously met Mindy Kaling at her book signing last Fall, I told her that I do comedy and she sweetly asked, “Oh! What school do you go to? Are you at NYU?” And I was like, “Stop it, Mindy! You’re so nice and sweet and funny! I’m 26. I have a day job and a 401(k) plan. Ahhh!” Of course, I didn’t say anything quite so articulate. I said something in a mumured gurgle and then Mindy Kaling told me I looked 19. My point is that even the eternally girlish Mindy Kaling thinks I’m fresh and young, so I’ve never had any reason to think of myself as anything but a youth.
That is, until I saw other grown women fawn over the boys in One Direction and wanted to cringe.
I completely understand why my dear tween friend Ruby Karp is in love with these boys. She’s young and they’re young. They’re singing about romance, but are too tightly choreographed by their managers to be legitimately sexually threatening. And yes, as I’ve admitted, their songs are catchy and they have great hair.
However, when grown women start discussing the various grown women things they want to do these lads, I want to shake them and say, “Maybe you don’t want to make out with them. Maybe you just want to adopt them because you’re nesting.”
HAVE I MENTIONED THAT THEY LOOK LIKE CHILDREN?!?!
Yes, I know, for the umpteenth time, that they’re not children, but they are styled like children. That I think is what I don’t understand the most. Are we so youth obsessed in our culture that young men who look like young boys are more attractive to women now than young men who look and behave like grown men? Give me Ron Swanson any day over Harry Styles. I mean, Ron Swanson can legally buy me a drink and he would probably make that drink a fine whiskey.
So, perhaps I am old now. I’m so old because I’d rather a grown man buy me a whiskey than listen to a skinny kid hum about how beautiful I am because I don’t know I’m beautiful. (Also, what’s that? Like, if you want to get with a cute boy first you have to have low self-esteem? I quibble…)
In conclusion, maybe I’m just old, but seriously, they look like children. Right? CHILDREN!!!
–Sincerely, an Old.