14 July 2009
FOR ALL THOSE BORN BEFORE 1945
FOR ALL THOSE BORN SINCE 1955
We were born before television, before penicillin, before polio shots, frozen foods, Xerox, plastic, contact lenses, Frisbees and the Pill.
We were born after Hiroshima, after Joe McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover, born since the end of the age of fresh foods, virgin forests and real jobs.
We were born before radar, credit cards, split atoms, laser beams and ball-point pens, before panty hose, dishwashers, clothes dryers, electric blankets, air conditioners, drip-dry clothes...and before man walked on the moon.
We came after capital flight, outsourcing, downsizing and consolidation.
We got married first and then lived together. How quaint can you be?
We got our first, second, third and fourth jobs and then left the nest. How long can it take?
In our time, closets were for clothes, not for "coming out of." Bunnies were small rabbits and rabbits were not Volkswagens. "Designer Jeans" were scheming girls named Jean (with the affectation JEANNE), and having a "meaningful relationship" meant getting along well with our cousins.
In our time, closets are for clothes, not people. Bunnies, rabbits and small Volkswagens are endangered species. Designer Jeans cost a week's pay and having a meaningful relationship means seeing each other at least once a month.
We thought "fast food" was that you ate during Lent, and Outer Space was the back of the Milliwald Theatre.
"Fast food" is what you eat during the commute between two of your three part-time jobs and what you serve to customers in the other one. Outer Space is where our tax dollars go.
We were before house-husbands, gay rights, computer dating, dual careers and commuter marriages. We were before day-care centers, group therapy and nursing homes. We never heard of FM radio, tape decks, electric typewriters, artificial hearts, word processors, yogurt and guys wearing earrings. For us "time sharing" meant togetherness...not computers or condominiums...a "chip" meant a piece of wood, "hardware" meant hardware and "software" wasn't even a word.
We came well after loyalty oaths, segregated diners, the peacetime draft and shotgun weddings. After sanitariums, shock therapy and poor houses. We'd never be caught dead listening to AM radio. We've never heard of fountain pens, iron lungs, spittoons and guys wearing spats. For us, "condominium" means another rental housing option gentrified out of our reach. Hardware and software can probably do our jobs better than we can.
In 1940, "MADE IN JAPAN" meant JUNK and the term "making out" referred to how you did on your exam. Pizzas, McDonald's and instant coffee were unheard of.
In 1980, "MADE IN USA" meant you paid more than you had to so your trade unionist neighbors wouldn't hate your guts. Coca Cola, cat food, coffee and cookies are the four basic food groups.
We hit the scene when there were 5 & 10¢ stores like Newberrys where you bought things for five and ten cents! Umbergers sold ice cream cones for a nickel or a dime...one scoop for a nickel, two scoops for a dime AND your choice of a hard or soft cone. "For one nickel" you could ride a street car, make a phone call, buy a Pepsi, it had 16 oz. in a bottle, too, or enough stamps to mail one letter and two postcards. You could by a new Chevy Coupe for $600, but who could afford one! What a pity too, because gas was 11¢ a gallon.
We hit the scene long since the corner 5 and dime was driven out of business by Wal-Mart. All the jobs are temp or part time or both. You could buy a Hyundai for aroud 15 grand, if you've had a full time job for ten years and haven't fallen behind on your student loan payments. What a pity too, because help-wanted ads read "must have own reliable transportation."
In our day, cigarette smoking was fashionable, GRASS was mowed, COKE was a cold drink, CRACK was something you didn't step on for fear you'd break your mother's back, and POT was something you cooked in. ROCK MUSIC was Grandma's lullaby and AIDS were helpers in the Principal's office.
In our day, cigarette smoking is pushing health care costs out of our reach, GRASS is watered by ChemLawn, COKE it IT, CRACK is cheaper than pot, and possession of even the minutest amount of POT can get all your property confiscated without due process. ROCK MUSIC sold out to Madison Avenue years ago. God help you if you get AIDS; it's the quickest way to get shunned from a so-called community since leprosy.
We were certainly not before the difference between the sexes was discovered, BUT we were surely before the sex change...we made do with what we had. And we were the last generation that was so dumb as to think you needed a husband to have a baby!
Obviously the commandment to "be fruitful and multiply" was fulfilled by the time we got here. We can somehow make do with only 6 billion neighbors. We probably won't be the last generation to think you don't have to have a baby to have a purpose in life.
No wonder we are so confused...or should I say amused...that there is such a generation gap today!
Did someone say something about a generation gap? We're bracing ourselves for generational warfare!
Authors: Josephine Michelle Draus and Lorraine Lee