Young’uns, Old-Timers and the Generational Divide
Adult ISH podcast co-hosts Merk Nguyen and Nyge Turner are notorious for winging it in the world of #adulting — as just-barely grownups, there’s a lot they don’t know. But there are challenges unique to every age group, not only to twentysomethings like themselves. In this episode, the hosts get real about ageism and generational divides in a chat with actress/producer Ana Golja (“The Cuban,” “Full Out,” “Degrassi: The Next Generation”) and storyteller Ray Christian. Then, they chop it up with precocious 14-year-old Tai Poole from the CBC/TRAX podcast Tai Asks Why about high school, condescending adults, and pop culture frames of reference. Be sure to follow our socials @yrAdultISH to stay connected!
Merk: Nyge, I have a question that I’ve been thinking about since the first day we started this show.
Nyge: This is starting off really intense. What’s on your mind, Merk?
Merk: It is intense because I’m having an existential crisis. Okay, so we’re both born in ‘96 right? So according to Pew Research, if you’re born from 1981 to 96, you’re a millennial and Gen Z is everyone born after that.
Merk: But when I check out Wikipedia, which I know plenty of teachers have been like, “It’s not reliable, don’t do it.” But who doesn’t use it? Come on.
Merk: It says if you’re born in the mid ‘90s, then you can be classified as Gen Z. So, which one are we?
Nyge: Oh, I mean, this isn’t a hard one for me, Merk. I got to be honest with you, I am definitely a millennial. I do not qualify myself as a Gen Zer.
Nyge: Nothing wrong with the Zoomers. You know, like, y’all are really cool. I know Gen Z is cool for, you know, a list of reasons that Gen Z people probably have. But, y’all didn’t grow up with VCRs and VHS tapes and CDs. Like I remember I had these like super baggy shorts and my CD player was able to fit all the way in my shorts. And I was playing the Prince album, with my Sony headphones, like, “Ahhh!” It was crazy, like, you know, headphone cables were black back in the day and now they’re all white, you know, and it’s just a sign of the times, you know? And they don’t remember, like when you couldn’t be on your Internet at the same time you were on the home phone, or else It’d be like (Nyge mimics an Internet noise).
Merk: Oh, you mean back in the days when DSL meant … you know?
Nyge: Umm, stop it. I see where you’re going. I mean, we grew up in times when, you know, we were playing outside, playing kick the can, drinking Shastas and kicking goals with them. And I’ve got the skateboarding scars on my shins to prove those times. And I think it’s just different than being born in the technology that we have now. And yeah, I choose baby millennial every day of the week, but how about you?
Merk: It depends on the day. I mean, you make very compelling cases for team millennial, but I’m really proud to represent Gen Z. You know, we’re this fired up generation, who knows what’s up in the world, socially, environmentally, artistically. We got folks like Greta Thunberg, and Khalid, and Malala Yousafzai and Chloe Kim, shout out to your gold medal, hey! But I’d also proudly just be team millennial because I used to go to Blockbuster to rent Stuart Little on VHS. And those were some good old days when we didn’t rely on being screenagers or just our phones to make us happy. And on that note, I’m not on TikTok, so I’m like, “Oh, maybe I’m not Gen Z.”
Nyge: Yeah, for sure. Not not a TikToker either. Whatever it is. And you know, with that, welcome everybody to Adult ISH, produced by YR Media, hosted by two, and I’m just going to go out on a limb here and say it, two baby millennials. I’m Nyge.
Merk: And I’m Merk, who said I fluctuate between the two! Still undecided. But that is the kind of question we’re grappling with on this episode, Old ISH.
Nyge: I don’t know how we made it this far, talking about being young so much without first looking into the other side of things. But yeah, it’s about time.
Merk: Yeah, I don’t know either. But at what age are we actually old? Like when does that happen?
Nyge: I don’t even think it’s like a set age, you know, like, I think it’s just a feeling. You feel it, other people feel it and it’s just felt. Like I have a friend who just made that crossover into the old side. It’s something that just gradually happened over time. We’ll, you know, be talking about rap albums all the time. We’re talking about rappers like, “Oh yeah, Lil Uzi this, Lil Tecca this,” or whatever. And he’d be like, “Little Who now?” And we would be like, “Man.” And, you know, we were just tallying it off and it just got to the point where we were like, “Yo, you trying to go out tonight? Like, what’s the move?” And he will be like, “Oh, man. Like you’re not going to catch a new episode of ‘The Masked Singer?’” And we’re just like, “Yo, ‘The Masked Singer?’ Like, that’s how you are moving?”
Merk: It’s not a bad show.
Nyge: It’s not! It’s not a bad show at all. Like, for sure, I’ve sat and watched it with my father before, but it was just because he was playing it and I’ve seen it at my grandpa’s house. So I’m just going to go and just say that it’s an older show and he’s into it. And then finally his excuse for stuff just started to become, “Ah man, I’m old. Hey man, I’m old.” And it was like, “Oh, okay, I’m glad you said it. And came to terms.” It happens.
Merk: It’s interesting how we all age ourselves, like even you and I did that earlier. We say we’re too old for Gen Z because we’re not on TikTok. But while it is true, sometimes when I’m hanging out with my younger cousins who have these references that I don’t get, I don’t feel like I fit in with them. I started thinking of the bigger question of does anyone really feel like they belong in their generation? You know, when we were born isn’t the only thing that makes up our identities, but not going to lie … It is one of those constant changes that shapes us and how we’re perceived all the time.
Nyge: Yeah, I mean, just the word “old” has a lot of negative connotations, like ageism when it comes to getting a job or a higher education, looking down on older people who are like returning. It’s almost like people think that knowledge is just reserved for the young or something like that, like or even misogynistic views of when a woman should get married or have children. It’s just a lot of nonsense that comes behind that word “old,” and it’s extremely powerful. And that’s why we’re going to dive into it today.
Merk: Totally. So in just a little bit, we’re going to have a roundtable discussion about ageism with Canadian actress and producer Ana Golja and one of our storytelling friends, Ray Christian.
Nyge: And later on, we’re going to dive even deeper into why age does but also doesn’t matter. With Tai Poole from CBC and Trax’s Tai Asks Why.
Merk: Nyge, has anyone ever said to you “Hey, you’re really cool or mature for your age?”
Nyge: Yeah, they for sure have. I think the last time that happened was when I was remodeling my bathroom like recently and the person that I was working with was like, “Yeah, so back in your ‘20s, like, how did you?” And I was like, “Yo yo, yo, yo, yo, let’s stop it right there. Like, I’m 24 right now. You’re wildin’.” So yeah. Then I had a whole, like, panic attack about like if I was balding or something. So I put on this beanie right now.
Merk: Oh my, your hair is just fine, at least from what I can tell. Yeah I remember getting told that by my relatives during the holidays and feeling really awesome ‘cause of it. Like, “Yeah I’m different from what you’d expect!” But then I’m like, “Wait, I know that was meant to be nice, but also like, am I supposed to be dumb?” I mean, this whole thing brings up the concept of ageism, which is a term that describes when you’ve been stereotyped or even discriminated against based on how old or young you are.
Nyge: Merk’s lowkey been ageist to me even though I’m only five months older. But anyway, we’ve got some guests to talk with us about ageism and how we’ve been a victim OR how we’ve perpetuated it ‘cause I actually have too — so, first, joining us from North Carolina we’ve got Ray Christian. The host of the podcast, “What’s Ray Saying?,” a show that explores the intersectionality of Black life in America. He’s also served 20 years in the U.S. Army as a combat veteran and paratrooper. He also goes way back with our boss Davey … and recently was chosen as a Fulbright Scholar in education and storytelling by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs! Dang Ray, what’s good?
Ray: Yeah, sounds old. Huh?
Merk: Sounds accomplished!
Ray: Nygel and the Merk. How are you guys?
Merk: So good.
Nyge: Doing very well.
Merk: Also with us from Toronto is Canadian actress and singer Ana Golja who you’ve seen play Zoe Rivas on “Degrassi: Next Class.” She played real life gymnast Ariana Berlin in the movie, “Full Out.” Most recently, she starred in and produced “The Cuban,” a film that rises above illness and age through music, food and friendship. Her pun game on IG is pretty strong, so Smirky Merky definitely needs to level up. But Ana, how goes it?
Ana: Pretty good. How are you?
Merk: Pretty good. When I took a look at your IG, you posted a picture of your dog and you’re like, “Oh I’ve got to get that subwoofer.” I’m like, “Yeah I got to … up my pun game.”
Ana: Okay, there you go. You just did!
Nyge: That’s not even how she actually said that. She just laughed out loud, like super loud, about, “Oh my gosh! Her puns are amazing!” But you tried to play cool.
Ana: Well, that makes me the happiest. I’ve got somebody [who] appreciates them. Yeah. Yeah.
Nyge: So this first question is for everyone. When’s a time that you’ve ever been treated differently because of how old you are? Or seen it happen to someone else in your personal life? We will all go around, Merk first. Then Me. Ray. Then Ana?
Merk: Okay, so super relevant to this conversation. It’s when our boss Davey texted Ray asking if he’s ready to record today because, Ray, you recently got back surgery and then Ray responds with, “What you say? What do you think? I’m some old fuck?”
Nyge: Tsk, tsk. Davey out there. Out here. Wildin’. Yeah, that’s not … How do you use somebody else’s example? (laughs) All right. Anyway, mine would be my grandpa, so I would always go to the bank with him. And pre-COVID times I remember like we went to the bank and they were like, “Wanna do something on the app?” And he was like, “An app? Like application? I don’t know what … what are you talking about? Like a piece of paper?” And they just were like staring at me the whole time, like, “Oh, you’re going to do something about this.” And I was [thinking], “This is your job. You explain the app.” But yeah, no, they were like getting like really irritated and frustrated because he didn’t know what an app was or what like the bank app was. Ray, what’s your…
Ray: Oh, well, shoot. I’ve been discriminated against for a long time. Most of my life it seemed like I was the youngest at everything I had ever done.
Ray: Now I’m old. Older.
Merk: Older. Old ISH!
Merk: There you go.
Ray: The level of discrimination, if there’s any for me now, would probably be being excluded from things because people think I can’t do it. Or [that] my sensibilities are pretty conservative, but neither are the same. But definitely when I was young, I see it … always was the youngest. Always had to wait. Always got carded, and I think I was in my maybe about … 30, the first time a group of attractive women started waving at me and I was like, “Yeah, I still got it.”
Ray: And all they really wanted to know was some directions.
Merk: (laughs) Oh.
Ray: Yeah, the way they said, “Sir,” was like, you know, like you would say [it] to your dad.
Ana: (laughs) Yeah. But I’m very similar to Ray in that growing up I was always the youngest and everything I did. And you definitely felt that like weird energy, like, “Oh, who’s this kid?” But then that also kind of followed me into the producing side of things. And that’s probably like the biggest thing that I had to deal with was being taken seriously, being one, a female and, two, 19 years old when I started developing this project. So kind of getting over those obstacles was pretty tough. But we did it. We conquered.
Merk: You did it. And you produced “The Cuban,” which is a film where you explore intergenerational relationships. In it, you play Mina, a 19-year-old pre-med student who was a child refugee from Afghanistan. In the movie, she now works at a nursing home where she becomes friends with Luis, a resident who used to be a big name guitarist in Cuba and currently has dementia and early onset Alzheimer’s. So let’s play a clip of a tender moment of them together. Here’s Luis scatting and saying how much he and Mina are alike.
Luis: Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo. We’re much alike. You and me. We’re artists.
Mina: No, I don’t know about that…
Luis: Sí. You and me. We’re artists, artists, teachers.
Mina: I don’t know.
Luis: We teach people how to love. Huh? How to love. There. (scats) Doo doo doo… (mouth clicks)
Merk: So the whole concept of the film is based on time you spent with your great grandma in real life. So what was it that happened during those moments of her that made you decide, out of all the adult topics in the world, that you were going to make a movie out of this?
Ana: Well, Alzheimer’s and all forms of dementia are just so incredibly debilitating and heartbreaking to see someone go through. So, you know, with my great grandmother being I mean, when she was first diagnosed, I think she was in her early 80s. And so she’s been living with it for a very long time. And we’ve tried everything to try to bring her back to life and, you know, get her to be slightly more social and engaging. And one day we just decided to play music from her childhood. So once we did that, she literally lit up her face, she looked like a different person. And that moment really was the seed of inspiration to make “The Cuban.”
Merk: And do you have the specific song?
Ana: That I do. Actually, I do. It’s an old Albanian song. And the translation of the title is, “The Waltz of Happiness” by a very famous Albanian singer.
Nyge: Oh, wow. Oh, yes. Symbolic. Yeah. Your film does a great job of, like, showing how older and younger generations can interact, but I’m not sure, like, if I’ve been to one like really well outside of hanging out with Ray at the [Third Coast International Audio Festival] conference. But that doesn’t even feel like that. But I wanted to know, like, have you been to like, a lot of, like, kind of mixed hangout sessions of like mixed age groups and stuff like that?
Ray: You know, there’s a tendency to want to hang around your peer group and that probably has more to do with it than anything else. I remember what I was thinking when I was younger, “What the hell would I want to speak to somebody much older?” I have an opportunity teaching to have a lot of students who are very, very young and they amuse the hell out of me. I hear words I’ve never heard before, but by the time I usually start saying them, I’m already two or three years behind my kids, but in certain places…
Merk: And are there any terms that they’ve used in the past that are good?
Ray: Oh my God. “Putting people on blast.” Oh yeah. I love love that. I remember you all did an episode talking about dating traps as well. That almost sounds psychopathic.
Merk: I’m already starting to feel that happen with me when I hang out with my cousins who are in their early teens. But on a more serious note, with age and time comes shared experiences that each of us can reflect on. But sometimes it’s hard to look back because the past can be traumatic. Ray, is this something you’ve seen, too, whether it be in your military days or in your personal life all the time?
Ray: Oh all the time. It’s almost like among those people who’ve experienced it there’s an unspoken language. We don’t have to have those conversations. But if you never heard those stories, you want the actual words, but the trauma can be too much. Now, my folks grew up during Jim Crow. My mother was a grandchild of a slave. So all of their stories were horrific. And they almost never wanted to talk about it with the kids. And if I tried to get my mom to go into any details, specific details … just didn’t want to go there. And, you know, after a while you stop asking and that history can be lost that way and I find myself maybe doing that for my kids. I never tell my kids military stories and they don’t really inquire. And I don’t know, I might go my whole life and they will never know. It’s like if a young person were interested, I might have that conversation if it occurred organically. But outside of that, I never would start a conversation like that with anybody.
Nyge: Right. That kind of brings me to another question I had. I remember listening to a story you did with Davey when he used to work at “Snap Judgment.” You know you tell a very intimate, colorful, sobering story about your step dad, LeRoy. And in that piece, it’s safe to say that you distance yourself from him because he had his personal vices that you found embarrassing as a boy and young man. And yet by the end of the story, he found a way to shake you to your core. Here’s a clip from it.
Ray: So I’m Bob on my way back to the bridge. I couldn’t wait. It was no way he could have caught nearly as many fish as I could. I couldn’t wait to give him a hard time. But before I could get to him and these three guys, three guys who had been fishing, just stop me. They were right in front of me. They said, “LeRoy’s gone. Go away. Move to another fishing spot.” “No, no, he he got sick and he passed out and they had to take him away, passed out, going to the hospital.” I was only gone about an hour. I was gobsmacked by that. This is not good. My heart started beating real fast. So I gather up all my things, all my gear. And I rushed to the hospital. But on the way to the hospital, I started saying to myself, “God, if you do exist, let’s make this right. Talk to me.” I would have done anything. I’d’ve stripped buck naked. I would have listened to anybody, the boogeyman, anybody that would have made this thing right.
Nyge: You can hear in your voice that you’d do anything to know that Leroy was okay. So based on that, knowing that not everyone grows up surrounded by those who look out for their best interests necessarily, what can you learn from someone older who maybe you don’t consider that much of like a role model based on their actions? What can you still, like, learn from those people who are older than you? Like you learned from LeRoy?
Ray: Some of the messages older people give are what not to do or do what I did. But don’t do what I did. By way of example, look at my life. LeRoy was completely illiterate, an alcoholic. He worked by the sweat of his brow and labor. But he had a sensibility about him. He taught me simple things. And by the time I got to the point where, you know, I’m a young adult, I think maybe when he died I might have been 22 years old. I’m one to understand him as an adult. But it was too late. Only later. I appreciate there was more to him than the drunk that I was seeing today, just like the character, he had lived a whole nother life, you know, through the depression, Jim Crow lynching. But I did appreciate that.
Nyge: All right. But I mean, that stuff is not necessarily your fault in that age either. I know, like for me, when I was younger, I went through my grandfather, gone on hospice and having dementia as well, and then him passing away. My grandmother having dementia and then passing away. And then now my mom is in late stages of dementia as well. And like, it’s really difficult as a caretaker to,you know, take advantage of those moments, you know, because, you know, you do be putting in so much work. Caring for this person, you almost have no time for that quality time that you want to spend. And then people are like, “Why aren’t you, you know, why aren’t you playing with her? Like, why aren’t you, like, taking her out to the beach and why aren’t you.” “Like, because we be so busy, you know, doing all of the stuff that you need, like cooking and cleaning and shower and brush teeth, like a comb hair, like all these things that are like basic necessities.” And you kind of get wrapped up in that. But I will say, like based on my experience, if anybody is listening is in that, like, caretaker position, I think you definitely should try to, like, take those moments out of that time to really spend that time with those people, because you will you miss it because it does pass, just like you said.
Nyge: But I have another question for you as well from one of your black leadership episodes. From your show, you talk about a new generation of Black people growing up helping former bad habits in our communities to die. Now, this was different from the way that I usually hear people talk about our generation. Usually it’s not positive. And a lot more critiques of us. But you were talking about it in a really positive light, like you saw hope in our generation. So what do you think a lot of people from your generation, or any generation older than us, why do you think that they don’t have positive things to really say about us?
Ray: You know, I can tell you that from the absolute beginning of time, the older generation always says that the younger generation don’t have their shit together. I heard it when I was a kid, we were the most worthless piece of shit generation.
Merk: Sounds so familiar. Oh, my gosh.
Ray: “All we want is to have sex.” But every major change for civil rights that’s ever taken place in the world is always been initiated on the backs of young people, old people. You start getting older, you get scared, you don’t want to lose your stuff. You’re afraid for your children. But it’s the kids who are going to go out there and say, “Hit me on my damn head.” See, if I take a baseball bat to the head? I’d probably die. Merk, you could probably take two hours worth of tear gas. I would get so sick. And because of that bravery of young people, I mean, I have to have complete confidence in that. And I already see it. You’re already tired of shit.
Nyge: Ray, I also want to know, do you have any questions for us just as a younger generation?
Ray: So, I got a pop culture question.
Nyge: You got a pop culture question?
Ray: Yeah. Yeah. So I heard … I seen this “WAP” video.
Ray: I’m not even sure what it means. So … so what … what is, what is the WAP?
Ana: I’m trying to think of a nice way to say it.
Merk: You know what the “W” stands for?
Ray: I don’t know what any of the letters stand for.
Merk: Okay, okay. So the “W” stands for “wet.” The “A” stands for … “ass.” And the “P,” it stands for, you know the thing that’s close to the ass that, that, you know, people with vaginas have, you know, so it’s … “wet ass pussy.”
Ray: (laughs) Okay. Now I know.
Ana: Don’t use that phrase in class.
Ray: I don’t know why I would.
Merk: Well, the radio edit is “wet and gushy” and it makes me want Fruit Gushers. So you can just say, “Oh, they’re talking about fruit snacks because she’s a snack!”
Ana: (laughs) Heyyyy!
Ray: I don’t know how I could use that in the conversation.
Merk: I mean, it depends on what kind of conversation you’re having.
Merk: Are you vaping right now?
Ray: Oh. No.
Merk: As a whole bunch of smoke comes out of his mouth!
Nyge: The Cuban is now available on video on demand. Links on where to watch it at thecubanmovie.com. You can follow Ana on Twitter and IG @theanagolja. And Ray on Twitter @whatsraysaying.
Merk: And don’t forget to check out his podcast, “What’s Ray Saying!”
Merk: So y’all know we’re used to being the new kids on the block, or at least on the younger side of things. I mean, our whole show is based on the idea that we don’t know how to be adults yet! But we’re gonna flip things around for this segment … And be the old farts ‘cause our next guest was born in a different century than us. He’s 14 and basically already at Jedi status when it comes to asking the big questions about life.
Nyge: That’s right. Our guest Tai Poole hosts CBC’s “Tai Asks Why,” in partnership with PRX’s TRAX — it’s a Webby Award-winning podcast where he asks questions like, “Why do we dream?” and “How will we fix climate change?” Then, he gets scientific answers. The show’s coming out with its third season early next year. As for Tai, he’s represented Canada twice in the World Mathematics Olympiad and is a dedicated swimmer.
Merk: He was also born in Vietnam, the country of my ancestors! So Tai, what’s up?
Tai: Not much. Thanks for having me. I mean, I’m super glad to be here in the presence of actual adults. You know, look, I [usually] just have to bumble around and pretend I know what I’m doing.
Merk: Well, hey, we’re just trying to pretend that we know what we’re doing.
Nyge: Yeah. I don’t even … Nobody’s ever referred to us as actual adults before, so that’s a first for sure.
Merk: Put that on my fridge. (laughs) Tai, we got to know. You have these long luscious locks. And I’ve been trying to get to that level by chewing on biotin gummies. What is your haircare routine?
Tai: So the secret is … I like to grow it as long as I can, but my parents always try to get it kinda, like, “Oh, we could cut it this much.” And for the record, I’m just doing a very small amount and then they cut half of it off. But because, you know, everything that’s going on and hairdressers are closed, I can grow it as long as I want. So, like, it just keeps coming.
Merk: Yeah, I feel that.
Nyge: All right. So on your show, you ask lots of questions. Most recently, why can’t you get the song … and I’m scared to even say it, “Despacito” out of your head. For me, it’s been “Beautiful” by Pharrell and Snoop Dogg. And it’s been that for years. Almost every day of my life, I wake up going, (sings) “Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh!” And I really don’t know how to stop. (laughs) I also love talking about pop culture. And it’s funny because different people get different references depending on how old they are or where they were when it happened. So I wanted to start off with a quick question to see where we all are when it comes to music. Tai, what do you think the best song ever created is?
Tai: Well, it’s probably not “Despasito.” I mean, you might not be able to tell, but I just I’m not a fan of the song, and I don’t understand how it got so many views. Best song … I listen to some really strange stuff, but I think I’m going to go with Pachelbel’s “Canon” because that is just a very beautiful song and I’m going to hide my taste in music.
Merk: Well, I, you know, now that you said it’s strange, like what do you actually listen to on a daily basis?
Tai: Oh well, I like indie rock and stuff and then like indie game music because I really dig that kind of stuff. My number one song on my Spotify Wrapped was actually an Undertale song that I listened to 3,400 times. I have a problem, you know, I just, I can’t stop. What’s your favorite song?
Merk: Ah, best song ever created. There’s this song that’s called “Lágrima” by a Spanish guitarist named Francisco Tárrega. And it’s a beautiful, like, one-minute 50 song. There are no words, but you just feel all the emotions of life and it’s beautiful. And “lágrima” means teardrop. So you know, I love crying. Good and sad tears.
Nyge: I see you went very eclectic.
Merk: I did.
Nyge: I’m going to be like kind of basic and I’m going to go with “Purple Rain” by Prince because I don’t know, like that is an undeniably amazing song. I think that’s probably the best song ever.
Tai: I mean, you have what looks like a purple sheet behind you. So, I mean, I think you might … I think it kind of rubs off a little bit.
Nyge: When I was 14 … Oh, my gosh, that sounded horrible! Wow. Like I’m old Nyge. (laughs) When I was your age, I went to like my first concert ever. Me and my mom, we went to see Prince perform out here and when “Purple Rain” happened like it was purple confetti and it was crazy. It’s awesome.
Tai: That seems like a nightmare to try to get out of your hair in the shower the next day.
Nyge: Oh, gosh, yeah. That was trash trying to get out of my hair. (laughs) But on your show, you always ask people why, though. So for this part, we want to ask you why. So my first question is, what are the things that older people do that prevent them from better understanding and connecting with younger people? Like for me, like personally, it was when people would say things like, “Listen, kid,” or stoop down to your level and talk to you in a baby voice. I want to know what those demeaning things are for you that older people do.
Tai: Well, I mean, I have to admit, I mean, the people that I interview are absolutely wonderful. But you definitely like … it’s unintentional, but you kind of have those experiences where they just kind of condescend to you. And it’s absolutely natural. I mean, I would probably do the same thing, but I kind of enjoy it at this point because it always feels so good to just, like, come in and just be like really professional and sound really mature. And you throw them off and it just … every time it does. It gives you that kind of that funny sense like, “Oh, so I’m not actually a four year old? I’m a little bit older than that!” And it feels good. But I mean, in the end of the day we end up having an adult conversation. But that’s always a little funny thing at the start.
Merk: Yeah. You can also plug cool things like, “Oh yeah, I got to talk to my hero, Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Tai: Heck, yeah, that’s amazing. Like Neil deGrasse Tyson. People like to dream about getting that interview so that’s something that you could just drop on people that would stop any of that. Just the next time I got to have a Zoom meeting for class, I can just, you know, like, put [a background of Neil] up behind me. It’s like, “Oh, yeah, I talk to that guy. Oh, have you heard of him? He like does space stuff.”
Nyge: You know, if I was your science teacher, I’d actually be pretty, pretty nervous. I’d be suffering a lot of imposter syndrome trying to teach [about] him.
Merk: (laughs) So Tai, what are some annoying things people do or ways they respond to you because of your age? ‘Cause something that annoyed me growing up was, in like second grade, there’d be times I’d tell my mom I was sad or lowkey depressed about something. And she’d go, “You’re too young to be depressed,” which unfortunately sometimes led to me minimizing my own problems. I mean, things like that happen to me this day and I’m 24. But does anyone treat you in that kind of way because you’re a teenager?
Tai: I get the treatment from my [younger] brother. I mean we like to mess around with each other a lot. I kind of get tagged with the teenager card so every time I do anything, Kien expects me to be annoying and in his defense, I usually am annoying but you kinda feel like just because you’re expected to be totally out of order, your emotions are very strange. That they shouldn’t be taken seriously? And fortunately, I don’t get this experience very much. Thank my parents for that. Yeah, it can sometimes be frustrating when you’re not just getting listened to or, in a way, like, invalidated. Just because you’re young. It’s like, “Oh you’re just stuck in a mood swing.”
Nyge: So Tai, although we’re older than you, compared to other generations, we were pre-teens not too long ago. Do you have any questions about these next few years of life that we can give insight to or speak from personal experience on?
Tai: It seems like really hard to just kind of step from here when you just kind of have a good time in high school, it’s the top of your lives and then, boom! You got to pay bills, boom! You got to organize a birthday party for your coworker, Margaret. And like with brunch and like all of this stuff, like, it’s just it’s a total drop off and you have no tutorial or guide to walk you through.
Nyge: It’s all the same to me, to be honest. Like, yeah, bills are hard, but also when you’re out of school, you have a job to pay the bills and things like that. So it’s like, it balances out. And like when you were in school, like you didn’t have a job to pay. And so, like, it’s pretty much all very similar in my opinion. But yeah, no, I thought the same thing. I thought, like, one day everything would just change and be like, “Oh, man, adult life!” But adult life is just kid life. Just a little different?
Tai: Well, I mean, that’s good to hear because I’ve always imagined it just kind of like, you know, right now as a teenager, I’m strapping on my … my what’s the word? Oh, whatever. I’m strapping on my pack. And then someone just kicked me out of a plane and I have to learn how to skydive. Like, I have to learn how to sort myself out. But it’s good to know that’s more gradual. And I can kind of figure things out as I go because, I mean, like, it’s winging it, right?
Merk: Oh, totally. I mean, that’s what this whole show is for.
Tai: That’s what I’m doing in school right now, but like, you know, I’m … I seem to be doing okay so far, but like just with so much more responsibility and just this massive open world, it seems like you’d be so overwhelmed, you know.
Nyge: Yeah, I think it’s like you get kicked out of a plane if you weren’t, like, preparing anything before. But like, if you’re paying attention in school, you’re already like … you have your own podcast. You’re already doing something that you love and that you’re interested in and you’re asking people questions about things and you’re actively learning, then it’s going to be extremely gradual. It’s like people who don’t ask questions, people who are too scared to, like, come off as like “ignorant” about certain things or just won’t ask that question, “Why?” that are kind of just kicked out of that plane. But if you’re a naturally curious person, you’re like, “Oh, yeah, I learned that in like sixth grade!”
Tai: I get it. It’s kind of like, I mean, if you get kicked out of a plane, it could be very hard to figure out what to do. But as long as you’re looking out the window and you say, “Wait, I’m about to get kicked off the plane,” you can prepare yourself.
Nyge: Right, it’s kind of weird. But I mean, you grab your parents, you grab your goggles, you get set.
Tai: The one good perk about being in this age range is not only can I be accepted for having it, but I can show off my ignorance because I’m not supposed to know yet. You know, I can be like, “Oh, I don’t know who that is. What is a VCR? Is this a sort of Pokémon?”
Nyge: My dad used to always tell me, like, “Ask all the questions while you’re young because then you’re not, like, threatening.” Like, if I’m asking somebody my age a bunch of questions about something they might not tell me the whole truth because they’re like, “Oh yeah, he might be trying to come for my job,” or those, “Would you think about like life things or anything like that?” But if you ask at like a young age, there’s just a young person asking some questions, like, “I’ll tell them everything and I’ll tell them the full story.” And things like that are a lot more honest when you’re younger. And so I say, like, definitely take advantage of that.
Merk: But at what age do you feel like you can’t ask those questions? Because, like, if we stop asking questions that’s the danger of life, right?
Tai: Mmhmm. Well, to be completely honest, I didn’t think I was going to make a season three. So I was kind of thinking that 13, 14 might have been the year that you can’t. You stop asking these questions. But I don’t know. I feel like for someone like me, I think the key is just persistence. If I like nag someone and ask them questions, like all the way from eight to like 28, they’ll just be like, “Yeah. Tai asks a bunch of questions.” So the trick is just to be annoying and constantly need help at the beginning so they know that they have to help you. Hmm. I don’t know. That’s my plan that’s got me three seasons.
Merk: Tai. The question guy.
Tai: The question guy. Exactly. I mean…
Nyge: Well, just want to know, are there any other questions from you, Tai, as it relates to adulting or growing up that you have for us?
Tai: I don’t really know. I mean, you guys may have a whole show about how you guys don’t really know much, but you guys seem like you know everything to me.
Merk: We could say the same thing right back to you!
Tai: Thank you. I have to, you know, I have to pretend I’m so smart and clever because then they give me a season. It’s better than me just being like, “I don’t know what I’m doing!” I’m just like, I asked a question and I accidentally finished an analogy. And then they think I’m a genius or something. I hope my producers didn’t hear that.
Nyge: You can listen to Tai Asks Why for yourself at trax.fm, CBC’s website or wherever you get your podcasts. Third season airs on January 13.
Merk: We’ve made it to the end which leads us to our top takeaways for today! Number one: ageism is whack and intergenerational friendships are very possible and encouraged. So, reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in a while who was born in a different decade than you were. Ask ‘em what’s up and let it flow from there. Friends who are older or younger than you might have drastically different life experiences than yours, but you both got a lot to learn from each other. Take “WAP” as an example of that.
Nyge: (laughs) And number two: whether you are young or old, in high school or planning your co-worker Margaret’s party, ask as many questions as you can without any shame. We are all just winging it.
Merk: So whether you’re a Boomer, a GenXer, Millennial, or GenZer, we wanna thank you for listening to Adult ISH, produced by YR Media, a national network of young artists and journalists creating content for this generation that I’m gonna refer to as MillZennial.
Nyge: I’m not going to cosign that. (laughs) But thanks go out to our producer Georgia Wright, Senior Producer Davey Kim, Executive Producer Rebecca Martin and sound engineer Galnadgee Joe-Johnson.
Merk: You can see how our show has aged over time on our socials @YRadultISH as well as our website adultishpodcast.com.
Nyge: Adult ISH is also a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX, a network of independent, listener-supported, artist-owned podcasts. Find them at radiotopia.fm.
Merk: I’m Merk and I’m gonna give my grandparents a call right now. See what they’re up to.
Nyge: Yeah, reminds me I told my grandpa I’d change his oil. Haha, laterrrr.