Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Things That Make You Feel Old

     I have yet another birthday coming up in May and have noticed that quite a few well-known people share the year of my birth. George Clooney, Eddie Murphy, Wayne Gretzky, and the president of the United States were all born the same year as I was. You can also add Toby Keith, Michael J. Fox, and the Karate Kid (the first one) to the list.
     I imagine they, like me, are feeling a bit longer in the tooth lately, especially if they stop to realize that there are now full-grown adults in the world who have only a vague memory of the 20th century. Do the math. People born in 1995 will turn eighteen years old this year. That means they were not yet in Kindergarten at the turn of the century.
     These people have a clear memory of just two U.S. presidents. The first Gulf War was over before they were conceived. They have never known a world without the personal computer. In fact, they likely don't remember much of the world before You Tube, which has been around since February of 2005.
     And that, I think, contributes to the grumpy old man talks I find myself giving to my children, who -- like their father before them -- just don't appreciate how good they have it.  They are pretty much convinced at this point that I roamed the Earth with dinosaurs because they cannot envision a world without the Internet.
     "What do you mean there were only three TV channels when you were a kid?" they ask.  "Why didn't you just watch TV on your phone?"
     They are also fascinated by the fact that cars exist without onboard DVD systems, that telephones used to be attached to walls, and that, once upon a time, in the distant past, there was something called a chalkboard.  (They are now known as Promethean boards.)
     As much as I try not to start every discussion with, "When I was your age ...," I find I can't stop myself.  I get retroactively jealous that I didn't have a TV in my room, much less a computer. There was one TV in the entire house, and my parents decided what we watched. It was a really big deal that you could play something call Pong on that set.
     I know. Poor, pitiful me. First world problems. I had it way better than my own parents. My mother was born in a home without electricity or indoor plumbing. As a child, that fascinated me. I also interrogated my folks on what it was like to be courting during the birth of rock and roll. Surely, they had great stories about Elvis and carhops and Ike and everything that I found really cool from the 1950's.
    What I discovered is that they were too busy with their lives to take note of the history happening around them.  As a child, I remember thinking that my parents must have lived in very primitive times. My kids, I'm sure, also think of my youth as something that happened a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far way. 
     If you understand that reference, and first saw that movie in a theater, you can join the rest of us geezers as we sit on the porch, chew our cud and tell the young whippersnappers to get the hell out of our yard.