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January 2, 2008

The Un-Sexiest Generation Ever!

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I know that current MTV reality programming is a grotesque exaggeration of American youth culture, but still, the stuff that normal kids do leaves my contemporaries and me gobsmacked: the Facebook exhibitionism, the de rigeur sex columns in the college papers, the dressing up like Bratz dolls. We're appalled, but also titillated, left to wonder if we weren't too puritanical. And it isn't just the men who feel this way.

"I would have loved to have gone out sport-fucking!" says a 41-year-old woman friend, nevertheless devoted to her husband and two children. "Girls want to do the exact same thing as boys. But in our time, slutty girls were supposed to be dumb; there was no power in it. We went around in big white T-shirts with rags in our hair, hiding our bodies."

"The whole American Apparel thing," says another friend, a man. "The raw, skanky flagrancy of it. I kinda dig it and wish we'd had it around when we were younger. But I feel like a dirty old man even saying that."

Most of us fledgling geezers recognize that expressing this pang of longing, getting it out there on the table, is as far as we should take it. There's nothing to be gained by trying to make up for lost time or, worse, pretending to be 23. No one's rooting for the dad in the Paul Frank tee or the would-be MILF who has signed up for pole-dancing lessons.

We can also take solace from the cautionary tales of the past and present. The free love of the boomer era turned out to have a steep psychic cost, as the boomers' therapists can attest. And the price of acting like Britney Spears is that you end up, well, acting like Britney Spears. If nothing else, we members of the generation formerly known as X can say we chose the sanest, safest path. Pretty sexy, eh?

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