|Do not go sliding into geezerhood so easily, my friends....
||[Dec. 5th, 2007|12:39 pm]
|||||the sound of co-workers obsessing about the snow||]|
Oh, stop already, ya old farts…
When everybody was polite, and childhood was idyllic, roaming the neighborhood, flying your model planes and playing kickball, and you came home and Mom had dinner ready and you sat down and had wonderful family dinners and watched quality shows on television and learned everything you needed to know in school and became so much more literate and educated than kids today. And everyone went to church every Sunday and was upright and moral and always remembered to say thank you and please.
Okay, for starters, maybe some of that WAS true – if you were white, middle to upper-middle class. And you were a boy, so you could do ANYTHING and grow up to be anything you wanted, instead needing to play quietly with girl things, and act like a lady and dream of becoming a teacher, a nurse, a secretary or a Mom. And you didn’t have a learning disability or a cleft palate. And your parents were happily married or at least could hold it together enough so that you didn’t know how miserable they were. And your Mom knew how to cook everything from scratch and didn’t have to rely on preservative and sodium-laden “modern food”. And you managed to eat a diet with enough iodine, so you didn’t get a goiter. And you managed to dodge the Spanish Flu and Polio epidemics. And the plant your Dad worked at didn’t get shut down. Or his job gave him some terrible disease like lung cancer, or cripple him in some industrial accident. Sure, you knew all of the state capitols. Heaven knows that’s really been instrumental to your success as an adult. And maybe you were lucky and you weren’t a Catholic altar boy. Or one of those girls who got sent away, or died from an abortion, because Uncle Billy couldn’t keep his hands to himself. And you didn’t die the second time you ate a peanut. Or smother in your crib. Or go flying through the windshield of the car or fall off the monkey bars onto the concrete pad and break your neck. And you thought that having a school drill where you huddle under your desk in case the bomb hits was…funny.
(Oh, if only I had the time, I could create a maelstrom of grim! But you get the point.)
See, for starters, when you’re a kid…you’re oblivious to a lot of stuff. Surely, by now, you’ve had some surprises – learned about some things that were going on in your family or neighborhood that you totally missed – like all of those adult references and jokes in Bugs Bunny cartoons. Go ahead, listen again to the songs on the radio you innocently sung along with when you were young. They were DIRTY!
And you tend to forget and minimize the bad – a lot of the things that sucked when you were a kid. Obviously, I haven’t forgotten all of the things that the boys in my neighborhood could do, while I had to sit and learn how to knit. The phrase “be a lady” still gives me hives. And sure, I had the freedom to head out into the woods and play for hours all by myself, totally unsupervised. I also had the freedom to be stalked and sexually harassed by older boys. And in these lovely, innocent days before we had a name for it, was turned into a reclusive social leper for several years due to their behavior. Because in those days…a girl must have done something to attract that kind of attention.
No, wait – I’m not looking for pity here – obviously, “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” applies here. And my kidney punch is FIERCE. But my point is: don’t sugarcoat it. Maybe you WERE one of the lucky ones who had an idyllic childhood and to YOU, the world was a much more wonderful place than it is now. Chances are, you’re just sugarcoating – but if you’re not, just keep in mind that for lots of other people growing up at the same time, YOU got all the luck and they did not. So shut the hell up, you lucky bastard.
I suspect that world then was as the world is now – a mixed bag of wonderful and horrible, with lots of stuff in between. After all, doesn’t EVERY generation think that the world was better when they were kids? Doesn’t EVERY generation think that kids today are less educated, less polite, less…everything? Until Grandpa needs his TIVO set-up....
Sure, I never learned the state capitols. On the other hand, I did leave school with a really good foundation in genetics, which has actually been a lot more use to me. It’s in our nature to piss and moan – oh, hell, I am the Empress of Complain – but here we are, looking down the runway to geezerhood, teetering on the threshold of being some teenager’s Mom, some child’s Pop-Pop, let’s not be boring, okay? Let’s embrace the new, accept that there’s always been bad with the good, quit treating teenagers' fashion and music choices with contempt (however this does NOT give you permission to dress like them in a pathetic attempt to seem young. Don’t embarrass me, my generational cohort, please!), quit acting like the barbarians are at the gate and civilization as you know it is crumbling. That shit was old even back when Vespasian was a pup.