An open letter to Gen X, millennials, Gen Z, Gen Alpha, and anyone else offended by the existence of baby boomers from a real life baby boomer.
It’s become abundantly obvious that we above the age of 59 are the direct cause of anyone and everyone’s problems. What I need right now is for millennials and Gen Zers and Gen Xers to keep working themselves to the bone – and Gen Alphas to gird their loins – so that I can continue to enjoy my outrageously enormous monthly Social Security deposits that are busy making me filthy rich beyond any comprehensible measure. A regular Croesus. Really. You do that, and I promise to not write this in cursive.
This will be written, as usual, sans use of a grammar checker. Mistakes – can you imagine? – may well be made. I do have a question: How come it’s only since the initiation of grammar checkers that, for instance, the insidious comma splice made major inroads into the things we read and the so-called sentences we write?
Here’s another beauty: I should of went to the zoo, or wherever. I’d insert one of those goofy smiley faces here, but I don’t care to freak out the editor any more than I likely already am. If I were smart, I’d have myself canceled. Heavens to Murgatroyd, I didn’t ask to be born!
The era of baby boomers
Let’s start here. I am beyond thrilled to have grown up when I did. It’s only been in recent times that I learned of my vile wickedness for having the temerity to be born between the years 1946 and 1964, aka in the baby boomers, and for this I am so, so sorry. Incredibly sorry. Yes worries. Let’s see. If I get this right, boomers wrecked the economy with our greedy and profligate ways, sent the entire planet on a course to extinction, and in general take up unnecessary space. A bunch of us may offer the added feature of not smelling all that great, if not downright gamy, as we go about our rapturous plundering and space-takingupedness.
In a hideous breach of etiquette, I ordinarily deploy full sentences – with punctuation, no less – when texting. The world is aghast! It’s clearly a miracle I’m allowed to own and operate one of those mainly dumb/occasionally useful devices. Can’t say I have the foggiest idea what hidden meanings are behind it’s vast collection of emojis, ergo, I’ve no doubt offended multitudes, although I must say, that little red car I can barely see that resembles an F1 racecar is pretty neat.
Here’s what’s truly scary: Back in the day, when the black phone on the wall rang in the house (yes, the phone), a parental unit or I would take our lives in our hands and pick up the receiver, never knowing what malevolent force awaited on the other end of the line. I’ll never know how we all lived, time and time again, through that nightmarish situation.
Having survived that, I would perch myself atop my banana-seated bike and tear off in one direction or the next, absent any tracking device nor having informed any adult supervision of what my ultimate destination might be, seeing as how oftentimes I couldn’t be sure of that myself. Minutes or hours later I would return, and, other than the time I did a header over the handlebars during a pistachio run (forking over a portion of my ill-gotten gains derived from peddling, ah yes, TV Guides) down to the butcher shop, in one piece more or less. Don’t ask. It was all nearly as treacherous as a fifth-grade game of dodgeball.
The world owes me … things?
As a child of children of the Depression who came of age during WWII, I clearly missed whatever I clearly should not have missed that the world owes me … well, things. Lots and lots of things. I’m not sure exactly what, but let’s take a look around.
Clearly, I was handicapped by having learned to write on a manual typewriter, to the extent that I took a typewriting class in high school when it seemed that might come in handy. It’s almost hard to believe that someone wasn’t standing over me to exclaim, “Good job!”
At times you’d have to pause and change the ribbon in the confounded thing. When my dad brought home an electric model that was being discarded at his office, I nearly ran down the street screaming in utter joy. We did not enjoy the ridiculous obtrusiveness of auto-correct, unless, that is, you count the red pencil of Mrs. Grant, who knew how to teach English before all that got chucked into the trash bin over the past decade or two.
It was on that very typewriter, which I used and used ‘til it begrudgingly went toes up, that I wrote a term paper for a history class in the spring semester of my senior year. Handed it in, dropping it straight atop the pile atop the prof’s desk. Looked forward to graduation, only to learn that I had failed that history class because, according to Mr. Professor, I’d not handed in the term paper. WHAT?
A subsequent session of wheedling, cajoling, pleading, and whatever else seemed useful in these situations proved fruitless, and guess what? I had to return that fall for those final three credits. These days, I’d have returned to my confuser and printed off another copy, or, I guess this is how it’s done nowadays, emailed him another. Apparently, I, or said professor, was not operating with sufficient mindfulness, or whatever was supposed to happen according to some “influencer.” Or something.
But there are advantages!
I will cop to certain boomer advantages. For instance, the price of the ticket to my first Grateful Dead show was six bucks. Several years later, Talking Heads was 12 clams. At the same time, the Dead had begun to charge a near-blasphemous $8, or just about $30 at this particular moment. When things got closer to $20 an entire generation nearly seized up and/or rioted. And this is for tickets one was oftentimes required to stand in line to acquire.
The younger set will never know the utter joy of maneuvering about a television set that weighs nearly as much as a light cruiser. Or the joy of acquiring the latest sought-after bit of music wherever music was sold in your hometown and dragging it home for the ceremonial unwrapping of the vinyl album cover, whereupon the piece of vinyl would be carefully laid on the turntable, the needle applied, the liner notes read. Or of being in possession of a 100-year-old jalopy that one, even one mechanically challenged, had half a chance of being able to repair in the driveway.
“Don’t be evil”
Instead, with the advent of anti-social media, the next generations have been sliced, diced, and otherwise assailed. That was a fun experiment for a year or two, ‘til it came completely unglued in the pursuit of, well, let’s call it what it is, profiteering on behalf of the whippersnappers who cooked the stuff up and now spend their time attempting to justify it all. I’ll be dipped. “Don’t be evil,” Google initially said about itself. When was the last time you heard that?
At this point, I’d be tickled if we all carried with us some awareness of the basics. Not so long ago, at the completion of my journey around the supermarket, paper list and all, there stood Invisible Old Person at the register, handing over my ill-gotten filthy Social Security lucre in the form of paper money. Eeek! But the turmoil has only begun. Realizing I possessed the proper coinage to create a situation in which I would receive only folding money as change, I handed it over. Oh dear. It seems the young fella manning the register had already punched in the first amount I’d forked over, prior to my springing the coinage upon him. Things were not looking up. Subsequently, onto the scene he summoned his supervisor, who had to be at least 80, to straighten out my inadvertent act of mayhem, leaving me to head to my decade-old car and ponder what it was just exactly that my school taxes are up to.
A regret or two
Forsooth, I am remorseful for a few things that one might directly ascribe to boomers. Let’s begin with helicopter parents, an altogether wacky deal, which, it appears to me, boomers nurtured and brought to full fruition, thereby retarding the ability of their children to learn how to function in the world through experience and experimentation. Not sure who said this, but it is brilliant: Prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child.
I’m prepared to make a proposition, one that may require some personal reconnaissance on the part of the reader. I would like to suggest that one who is truly interested in understanding how things “got like this” might want to examine the arc of political activity and policies enacted that have bedeviled us all over the past half-decade. A fair number of these laws and regulations are tied directly to fostering the creation and accumulation of wealth, not things I’d ordinarily rise in opposition to, however, when things tilt from making the world in which we live a better place to naked money grabs that only serve to make the already-wealthy wealthier, my blood pressure tends to go around the bend.
“Where is my badge?” sang Eric Clapton. My question today: Where is my trophy?