How To Bounce Back Into Your Middle-Aged Life After An 18-Year-Old Asks, “Who’s John Lennon?”

He was the egg man; now you’re the old egg.

Clare Wieck
4 min readJun 13, 2021


Photo credit: Nick Fewings

Step 1: Composure

Do not physically harm the juvenile. Keep your movements slow and non-threatening. This will calm you as much as it does them (they’ll be shaken after discovering a void in their world knowledge).

Step 2: Double-check

Ask the teen if they know the song “Imagine.” Sing a couple of bars (accompany with air piano for a more immersive experience). Then ask them if they know The Beatles. If they recognize the song or band, good. If they recognize neither, keep your cool. Do not grab them by the collar with your frail, aged hands, screaming, “How can you not know?!” and go on a largely incoherent tirade about the post-Napster music industry before becoming disoriented, dropping to the floor, and laugh-sobbing into their sustainable sneakers.

Step 3: Relate and appease

Prepare the youngster for tutelage by speaking their language. Casually mention that you “Twitch on the reg” (trust me), that you can’t wait for the next BTS record to drop, and how much you hate single-use plastic. Take the blame for climate change even though you and I know you’re way too young for it to be your fault.

Step 4: Educate

Teens are hungry for knowledge, especially when it’s passed down from elders as cool as you. Describe John Lennon to them thusly and verbatim: “Millions of people used to stan John Lennon and The Beatles. They were GOATs and their music still slaps, bruh.” As their eyes light up, ask if you can play some John Lennon tracks for them. When they obviously say yes, take out your phone, exit out of that NPR podcast episode on burnout and play them “Beautiful Boy,” “God,” or “Working Class Hero.” Avoid “Give a Peace a Chance” because we haven’t got all day. In the theoretically possible scenario they react negatively, say they’re being “extra” and retreat. If they react positively, count this interaction as part of your legacy and bring it to a close.

Step 5: Solace

After you’ve exited the conversation, find a place where you can be alone. You may experience an involuntary and painful review (flashbacks) of your life and the choices you’ve made thus far. Let it wash over you. If you’re still rattled, open the expensive whiskey you’ve been saving for the special occasion that never comes and allow it to soothe your existential weltschmerz.

Step 6: Recovery

Remember you still have a few decades left before you die. We all know those stories of people who started drawing at 85 and became world-famous from their art at 90. That probably won’t happen to you but at least you have a quality couch to sit on, a high-end line of kitchen utensils, and you’re doing remarkably well for someone who used to take so many drugs. Watch a Masterclass lesson, read a chapter of Untamed, and take a nap on your osteopathic pillow.

Step 7: Self-esteem

Be assured by the fact that your generation is objectively the best one. Think of the things that modern adolescents will never know: DOS prompt, asking people on the street what time it is, dying of dysentery in Oregon Trail. Your knowledge is voluminous; your experience multitudinous. Today’s teenagers might not know who John Lennon was, but at least you know that if a Boomer asked you if you’ve heard of Buddy Holly, you’d be able to confidently answer, “Obviously, it’s on the blue Weezer album,” and walk away with dignity.

Step 8: Growth mindset

Think about how you might keep in touch with teenagers — like being a mentor (although all mentoring activities would have to be non-sporting due to your neck, shoulder, and back pain. Actually, the kid will probably be cool with listening to your cryptocurrency investment ideas over an espresso). Bookmark Urban Dictionary; find out what a Minecraft is; go to the Top 50 playlist on Spotify, grit your teeth, and press play.

Step 9: Acceptance

Surrender to the circle of life. Young people, too, shall one day be middle-aged (unless they find a way to upload their consciousnesses to the cloud and digitally move through the world using sexy avatars, thus becoming immortal before they hit their 30s.) Book an appointment with your therapist, and promise yourself that you’ll actually listen to a whole John Lennon album tomorrow.

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