‘What the fuck is that on your head?’ a repulsive white man called out to me from a shop doorway as I crossed the street towards him. He was standing with a couple of other men. All white. All of them in their thirties at least. Wishing to remain civil, I graciously replied, ‘It’s a top-knot, or semi man-bun. First implemented as a popular hairstyle in Japan during the Edo period.’ The uncultured wretches all scoffed visibly at this enlightening nugget of education I had gifted to them with no request for recompense. ‘Haha this hipster prick thinks he’s the fucking Karate Kid!’ retorted one of them as the rest mocked and jeered. I winced inwardly at his foolish statement. ‘Actually, the top-knot is more of a Samurai tradition,’ I corrected him and carried on, walking past them until their asinine ignorance was behind me. ‘Yeah whatever, Bruce Lee…’ came another predictably moronic riposte accompanied by a ripple of animalistic snorts.
For a moment, I considered correcting him yet again with the information that Bruce Lee was in fact Chinese and as such had nothing to do with ancient Japanese customs, but realized that would only be another waste of my own valuable breath. No, I had tried to be polite but it was clear that these vile bullies deserved only two more words from me. I stopped walking. Slowly I turned, their snide grins faltered slightly as they appeared to detect a change in my attitude. One by one I fixed all three of them with a steely gaze, opened my mouth and said: ‘OK, boomers’.
The effect was immediate. Their mouths fell open in gaping shock. They staggered backwards, clutching at each other as they tried desperately to maintain their balance against the shockwave of my devastating put-down. I displayed no remorse as I gazed upon their panic and their pitiful confusion. As I stood my ground they continued to back away from me. The ripples of my words felt almost tangible in the air around me. Eventually they seemed to gather their bearings. One of them looked as if he was going to say something, but his friend quickly grabbed him by the arm and turned him away as they hobbled pathetically down the sidewalk and into a nearby alleyway. As I watched the last of them disappear around the corner I nodded to myself, turned around and set off for home.
If it were not for the OK boomer meme, I shudder to think what might have happened that day. If I had been unarmed, I may have been forced to simply put my head down and walk away from them, their cruel jibes resonating in my delicate ears. Thankfully this was not the case, I was prepared. In my view ‘OK boomer’ works in a similar way to a can of mace or a rape whistle. A formidable yet comforting phrase we can keep with us at all times for protection against bigotry. It’s also thankfully extremely versatile. ‘Boomer’ doesn’t have to refer only to those born during the baby boom era. It’s much more than a mere label to describe a point in time. ‘Boomer’ is a state of mind. Very much like ‘gammon’ in the UK is used to dismiss anyone with opposing viewpoints ‘Boomer’ is a powerful weapon, and as Uncle Ben told Peter Parker: ‘With great power, comes great responsibility.’ Use it, but use it wisely.
Was my reaction to those men too harsh? Perhaps. Was it necessary? Almost certainly. Will they be likely to underestimate a hipster with a top-knot again in their lifetimes? I think not…and to anyone reading this who is unable to grasp the importance of this cultural phenomenon, I can only say this: OK boomer.