The country I live in is small by any standards and the capital city is more of a largish small town. It reminds me of when I was living on an island in that you constantly bump into the same people. It’s the sort of place that when you are in a public place and wish to gossip about somebody, you look over both shoulders and as there is a very good chance the person may be close by. In such an environment, those of us who march to a different drummer, who let their freak flag fly, stand out just a bit more than they would in a normal urban environment. Human nature being what it is, you can’t help but notice them, to be visually drawn to them. God bless ’em for following their path, it can’t be easy to live under the microscope.
One such is a gentleman my kids and I call Middle-Aged Goth Dude. Now, we don’t know anything about him, not even his name, but we’ve been crossing paths with him for years. In fact, my kids have grown up with him and I even I remember him from when I first got here 23 years ago, when neither of us were middle-aged. He was just a Goth dude back then, not THE Goth dude as those of his ilk were more numerous back in the day.
Middle-aged Goth Dude is always, invariably dressed, styled and coiffed the same no matter the season, vagaries of weather or of vulgar, pedestrian fashion. He’s relatively tall, roughly 1m85, clad head to toe in black (need you even ask) and his jet black hair (dyed, for sure) is left in a kind of long haired Mohawk. In other words, the sides of his head are completely shaved and the hair in the middle of his head is left relatively long. It’s held down with gel and is about shoulder length. These days I’ve notice a growing bald spot on the top of our protagonist’s head, so it’s a good call he’s tall and it’s not something readily apparent.
Every day he is clad in black jeans, a black longsleeves shirt, a long black wool coat (the heyday of which was some time in the mid-80s) and a pair of pretty cool black leather engineer boots. The de rigeur black eyeliner and black lip outliner (or whatever you call that stuff) is present, of course, but relatively discrete and used to good effect. One wonders if age has imparted wisdom and craft to our protagonist’s maquillage toolbox. The deathly pale pallor is, it seems, in no way enhanced. It’s just a byproduct of living la vida gotica. You won’t catch Middle-aged Goth Dude pool-side in Ibiza any time soon.
Normally, one runs into Middle-aged Goth Dude either on the bus, or on the street where he is invariably whizzing by on a black (naturally) electric scooter. In 23 years, I’ve only seen him during the day, never at night and therefore never, interestingly, at concerts or nightclubs. Not once. Nor have I ever bumped into him a in a working (like a said, this is a small town) capacity, not in a shop, restuarant or bar. I don’t remember ever having seen him with somebody else. This gentleman seems well adjusted, polite in social circumstances and is well-groomed. But, otherwise, he’s a complete mystery.
What does Middle-aged Goth Dude do for a living? Is he independently wealthy? Why does he seeminly never go out at night? Is he happy? Depressed? Vegan? Carnivore? What inspired him to adopt “Goth” as a longterm lifestyle? What’s he think of Robert Smith (of The Cure fame) since he became nutjob fascist? So many questions…
Last year I saw Fun-loving Criminals in concert, a band I last saw in concert in the late 90s. I did a doubletake when I entered the concert hall – hey, what are all these fat-ass oldsters doing at this concert. Then the band came on and they too were old..and not exactly svelte. Oh. As I ordered a drink at the bar, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Oh…yeah….me too. Aging is a bitch, and nobody is immune to it’s effects. So, yes, middle-aged Goth dude is aging. He’s gained a some kilos, his hair is thinning and his face is getting puffy, his eyes sort of watery and bloodshot. Middle-age is a time a when one’s bad habits come back to roost with a vengeance. I can’t help but wonder if drink is part of the equation or it that’s just me projecting.
Goth is, essentially, a movement that is best left to young people. It’s all about morosity, decrepitude and navel-gazing narcissim, which as a look and way of life can really only be pulled off successfully, if at all, by those in the flower of youth. Youth, as the cliche goes, is wasted on the young. Goth’s natural home was London and NYC (with St Mark’s Place being the US epicenter) and as a movement it crested in the late 80s. And yet here were are in 2020, in a smallish city in continental Europe and Middle-aged Goth Dude just keeps on keeping on. Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead. Here’s to you, MGD.