Whiting column: Talkin’ ’bout my generation
Baby-boomers have a lot going for them.
A few decades ago, I remember determining I would be 52 when the year 2000 arrived. My internal response: “Wow, that’s old. I wonder what it’s like. Too far in the future to matter.”
Today, we hear the world belongs to millennials and “seasoned” citizens should get out of the road — sometimes literally. Others remark how age must be difficult. It’s not so bad. We’ve learned a lot and are tougher than you think.
We know why they’re called millennials. It can take a thousand years to get them out of the house. We were not only tougher but more loyal. We didn’t have seat belts. Car seats didn’t exist. We stood up in the front passenger seat. We were going to go through the windshield with the rest of the family.
We had extreme sports: seeing how many we could pack in the back of a pickup or in a VW beetle. We had streaking. Not an extreme sport? I went to the University of Wyoming. Think about streaking there in January when the average low temperature is single figures and the wind is blowing sideways. It puts certain parts of your body in danger.
Physical danger? Have you ever had a cramp in the back seat of a Chevy or a gear shift knob in a tender location? Most of today’s youth have never heard of mumble-peg let alone participated. Ask your grandfather if you don’t know what was involved. We didn’t go out to eat at school; we ate school lunch.
We were skillful. We drove and parked big cars with a stick shift. We could get eight in the car and at least two more in the trunk when we went to the drive-in. We didn’t need cyber dating, we had co-ed streaking and toga parties.
Our years have provided experience. We’ve had short hair, long hair and no hair. We saw the first Rolling Stones world tour and Star Wars I. We not only knew Elvis when he was alive, but when he was skinny.
We ate apples. They weren’t something in our back pocket. If someone needed a needle it was for a record player. If we hooked up we were fishing. We had birth control. It was called acne, and it was 100 percent.
We had designated drivers. Someone had to drive the car while the other three were mooning out the back window. We didn’t need to be continually entertained, even at bedtime. The best bedtime story when I was a kid: darkness. We didn’t need a psychologist to explain things. I once asked my Dad what dreams mean. His response, “It means you’re sleeping.”
When we said “no” to crack, it was a reminder to pull up our jeans.
Things were straightforward with our parents. My curfew was being on time for chores the next morning. My responsibilities were whatever needed to be done not just what I was told to do.
As a result, we learned how to deal with our children. When our daughter got to high school, boys started getting interested.
One called at 2 a.m. “Is Amanda there?”
“If you’re smart, you’re going to hang up right now,” I responded.
My wife, being the sweet person she is, said, “Bryan, you need to be nice.”
“Nice ends at midnight,” was my reply.
A week later he came by to pick up Amanda for a date. I met him at the door.
“Do you like my daughter?”
“Yes” he said.
“Just remember, this is my daughter, my baby girl, the light of my life. If you’re thinking about kissing her, hugging her, getting too ambitious in your car, just remember, I don’t have any problem going back to prison.”
From our experience, we have learned to plan ahead. We go to 7-Eleven to get coffee before we stand in line at Starbucks. My wife, Kathy, was wearing a new locket, when her friend Janice asked if there was a memento inside. “Yes,” said my wife, “a lock of my husband’s hair.”
“But Bryan’s still alive,” said Janice.
“I know, but his hair is gone.”
We have learned to use our available resources. An elderly rancher, Hugh, bought a bull and complained, “All that bull does is eat grass. Won’t even look at a cow.” I suggested he take him to the vet. Next week, Hugh was much happier as he told me, “The vet gave him some pills and the bull serviced all my cows. Then he broke through the fence and bred my neighbor’s cows. He’s like a machine.” What kind of pills were they,” I asked. “I don’t know, but they taste like peppermint.”
Our retired neighbor Doug visited the doctor for a checkup. “Doug, you’re in great shape,” said the doctor afterward. “How do you do it?”
“Well,” said Doug, “I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, and the good Lord looks out for me. For weeks now, every time I go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, he turns on the light for me.”
Concerned, the doctor found Doug’s wife in the waiting room and told her what Doug said. “I don’t think there’s anything to worry about,” she said. “And on the bright side, it does explain who’s been peeing in the fridge.”
We can’t stop getting older, but as Will Rogers said, “We could certainly slow the aging process down if it had to work its way through Congress.”
Bryan Whiting feels most of our issues are best solved by personal responsibility and an understanding of non-partisan economics rather than by government intervention. He recently retired after 40 years of teaching marketing, entrepreneurship and economics. Comments and column suggestions to: email@example.com