One of my favorite Far Side drawings features a city street in the midst of a huge emergency--possibly an alien invasion, I can't remember, but certainly something just that intense. In the midst of widespread panic and confusion a dog looks out a car window at another dog on the street. Both contentedly wag their tails in recognition and approval.
There's that sort of instant recognition and attraction between kids. Orion ignores babies now, and mostly any human taller than four feet, but any kid in his range wears the invisible badge of membership. "You're in the club, " it says, "and you know what I know."
The membership gets more complex by degrees, with age. The acknowledgements become more subtle. But still, teens still carry unspoken agreements that vary upon the situation. At school, they're divided into their own social groups, but outside, there's still a hint of "us" (all teens) vs "them" (all adults and all sprats). Same with twenty -somethings. Though by then, certain value systems, whether individual or imposed by fad, fashion, MTV or peers, kick in, instantly ranking and subdividing within the age group.
But by the thirties, the age identity is virtually gone. For one thing, it's awfully hard to tell who is when. We adults can find comrades via other criteria; economic, education, interests. We can be somewhat general, as in the loose bonding with attendees at a concert, a bit more specific e.g. attending genre conventions, or we can send out very specific signals. For example, I could show up in a shirt that proclaims "Silk for Calde!" Chances are, very few would respond. However, those few connections would be instantly powerful possibly because the 'club' would be so exclusive.
Still, this isn't the same as connecting with people purely by birthdate. We who are born in or near the same year have some pretty basic things in common. Of course there are exceptions where geographies and cultures separate us. But, within those parameters, there are things shared only with people our own ages. I have friends in their twenties, and in their sixties, and all ages between, but sometimes it just feels good to converse with someone my age, who grew up on the same toys, cartoons and sit cons, wore the same sort of clothes, saw the same movies and now, confront the same sorts of issues that only people our ages, and practically everyone our ages, do. I enjoy comparing notes with others who may have smoked weed at a Deep Purple concert, or saw Star Wars when it was brand new. Those conversations are fun and, heh, sort of like time travel. ( got you again, with the time travel...)
Interesting to think about changes in how we identify ourselves with others. Funny, the stuff you can learn from watching wee ones.
To Carl V: Obviously I'm re-visiting the Long Sun series. This time I'm paying attention. The thing that is most clear in every page is Gene's fascination with and appreciation of languages.
Apparently, I'm going to be at the Neil signing at DreamHaven Books, Comics and Art on Dec 3. If you're going to that one, I'd love to meet and chat with you.
And this, if you haven't seen it, regarding congrats to Harlan Ellison, who will be Grand Master for Nebula AwardsÂ® Weekend 2006
I'm off to the studio, while Orion hones his skills as Ratchett (with Clank, of course)...