Lee Pitts: Dating myself
The world is changing so fast these days that it’s leaving many old coots like me in the past, and I seem to be having problems communicating with the younger generation. I am ONLY 59 years old but I have to write carefully because I continually date myself by using references that young people can’t relate to. This was pointed out to me by a class of third graders recently who wrote me wonderful individual letters after their teacher had read to them one of my essays. Besides their kind words the little nippers asked questions like, “What’s a beatnik?” And “What is carbon paper?” They also reminded me that kids today play video games, not marbles.
Now I know what my grandparents felt like when, as a child, I asked them why they went outside to the outhouse when a bathroom would have been much closer?
It’s like I speak a different language than younger folks today whose reading consists primarily of text messages. I realize I’m either going to have to enter the 21st century and acquaint myself with today’s culture, or find another line of work. But there’s nothing I’m still qualified to do, as the oil patch now runs on computers instead of roustabouts, and cowboys ride four wheelers instead of horses. But just like Hopalong, Tonto, Hoss, and the Lone Ranger, I’ve never even been on an ATV.
They’ve taken the word “farmer” out of the FFA and the Colonel out of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Now it’s just “KFC” to anyone under the age of 30. I feel like I am outliving my audience as young readers today may know who Darth Vader is but they’ve never heard of Deputy Dawg, Dick Tracy, Elliot Ness, The Duke of Earl, Broadway Joe, Bosley, Buckwheat, Bozo, Bogart, Bullwinkle or Bo Diddley. In their frame of reference Cher never had Sonny, Dale didn’t have to compete for Roy’s affections with a horse named Trigger, and Car 54 was never lost. The drive-in theater is now a swap meet and hotel keys and house calls are a thing of the past. Every day there are fewer of us left who remember the milkman, or that when you went to the gas station two people emerged to fill your tank, wash your windows, check your tires and your oil. I guess I’ll just have to adapt to the new “service” economy in which we live.
I’ve spent my life accumulating a pretty darn impressive nail collection, if I do say so myself, and my friend John, who is a young builder, took one look at all the nails in my shop and said, “Thank goodness we don’t use them anymore. We just use a nail gun.” With that one simple remark he discredited my life’s work.
We baby boomers have spent our lives accumulating what we thought were valuable collections of lunch boxes, Buddy L trucks and Roseville pottery and our kids take one look, emit a collective yawn and the first chance they get they sell them on eBay. They could care less about our Gunsmoke cap pistols, 45 RPM records and motel ash tray collections. The worst part is, just like leisure suits, I don’t think I’ll be coming back into fashion any time soon either. I’ve thought about giving this column a complete makeover, but it’s not something I could fake. Even if I did use a pseudonym and wrote a new column where every other word was “awesome,” I’d be exposed faster than a streaker, if anyone still remembers them.
My audience is getting older and they find my writing harder to read due to failing eyesight. Even if they do read and like one of my columns, 20 minutes later they can’t remember who wrote it, or what it was about. As we’re getting older we’re losing our sense of humor too, finding less and less to laugh at in this weird world in which we live. Our only satisfaction comes from knowing that one day the current crop of youngsters will have to explain to their grandkids why they liked rap music, who Paris Hilton was, and why in the world they tattooed and pierced their bodies. For, as we all discover sooner or later, time has a way of making us all irrelevant.
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