Last night, after a brutal 10 days, the president of the United States finally showed up. His name was Barack Obama. And during an Obama Foundation-hosted virtual town hall about police reform, he spoke the three words we’d been longing to hear since he left office.
Was it “third term incoming”? “Michelle is running”? Both would’ve been great — but that’s not what it was. Nope.
It was “old-head stuff.”
Obviously, 44 spent the bulk of his time addressing the police violence-shaped elephant in the room and what we can do to change things. But toward the end of the town hall — after his opening remarks, after a series of interviews with folks ranging from former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to Minneapolis city council member Phillipe Cunningham, and during a brief Q&A session — he deferred to some of the other folks. “And with that, I’m gonna be quiet,” Obama said. “You don’t need to hear more old-head stuff.”
If the phrase confused you, you’re … well, you’re not Black. Old head is a status every man attains, even if he doesn’t aspire to it. It’s big uncle energy, a permanently DGAF attitude marked by an absolute certainty that the world will continue to change, but you won’t — not because you can’t but because you don’t need to. Let these damn kids figure the rest out.
Still confused? That’s where we come in. If you exhibit five or more of the following traits and behaviors, then congratulations — you’re an old head too. Don’t worry, you’re in good company.
1. R&B that stuck to euphemisms
Before there were songs like “I Invented Sex,” Teddy and Marvin seduced with suggestion. Ask your cousins—that’s why they’re here.
2. Calling people “cool breeze”
Also acceptable: “playboy.”
3. Themed cruises
Frankie Beverly blasting on the Tom Joyner boat. Get into it.
4. Linen short suits
They might even be custom. Don’t forget the hard bottoms.
5. Mutton chops
Rozay beard? Nah, fam. You need something that fits with that Brougham.
6. Aqua Velva
Aftershave in general is an old-head standby, but whenever possible, it should somehow smell as blue as it looks.
With the third syllable pronounced “cheef” — yes, like the Kansas City team.
8. Telling everyone to turn the lights off and the thermostat down
It’s a cold world. Get a damn sweater.
9. “That’s how they getcha!”
Your uncle is a conspiracy theorist. Or DJ Khaled.
10. Creases in jeans
Stop lying. The cleaners didn’t accidentally do it. You asked!
11. His-and-hers outfits at the amusement park — or anywhere else
You know you love it.
A classy container for a nip of that E&J.
13. Comedy clubs named after the dude who owns it
Not only did he know every comedian ever, he knows where the second “d” in Redd Foxx’s name came from.
14. Watching the 6 o’clock news … and then the 11 o’clock news
The morning news, too. And you know he knows everyone’s name.
15. Charcoal grills
What you mean, gas? This is nature, baby!
16. Making every store name plural
Wake up, playboy, it’s already 7! Gotta get to the Home Depots before all the clearance charcoal grills are gone!
17. Saturday cartoons
No lie, that Pound Puppies-Shirt Tales-Mr. T combo was the realest shit.
18. Corporal punishment
You can get it off the tree or you can get it out the closet. Either way, it’s your behind.
19. White parties
Andre Harrell-approved … and possibly invented.
20. Magazine collections
What happens if the World Wide Web dies, young buck? We’ll need to repopulate the libraries!
21. Calling TV “stories”
All My Children is the Jordan of that shit.
22. White Jesus
Born in the Middle East but up on the wall looking like Young Willie Nelson?
23. Refusing to stand at a bar
Paying good money to drink someone else’s bad liquor and getting cardio? Pass.
24. Chicago stepping
Synchronized swimming is cool, but this is on a whole ’nother level.
25. Scrolling your phone with the index finger of your free hand
Complete the cipher with a squint and an arm’s-length extension.
26. Getting a bag for a single item at the store
Don’t stress the ecological impact — he’s gonna reuse it so many times, it’s gonna fall apart before it ever hits a landfill.
27. Bifocals with the line
All the better to look at you judgmentally.
28. Paying by check
Why does the government need to know what folks are buying?
29. “Fix me a plate”
The most annoying four words uttered at the barbecue.
30. Brown leather woven sandals
31. Reading the newspaper in the morning
Scroll, my behind—and put some Carnation milk in my coffee!
Some of you never brushed with Glister and it shows.