I remember being that age, and can vividly remember the fleeting fantasy of gnawing off my own hand to free myself from the trap of Ye Old Person stuck in an endless tape loop (see kids, there’s another thing you probably aren’t familiar with) about how many miles they had to trudge through the snow, uphill, to school, when they were starving from war rationing and the potato famine or something. What perversity of life makes me do the same? Is it one of those inevitable things in life, like reaching the age where you don’t care if you are wearing mismatching clothes to go to the store, or the one I’m really looking forward to, the age at which you declare at random intervals that you are old enough to say what you like, and you embarrass the younger family members at Thanksgiving by blurting out
completely inappropriate sexual innuendos about senior citizen sex? See, I’m still young enough to cringe at the thought, but if my current trend continues, I’m right on target to eventually becoming that old lady.
Back in My Day – Pip Helix (Davin’s Den)
Much to my clumsily combined dismay and amusement, I find that I have passed one of the inevitable mileposts in the march to old age. I have begun to reminisce about “the good old days”.
Recently, I have found myself having conversations that begin with “back in the day” or “when we were young” with not only my friends and husband, but with complete strangers. I was in a housewares store, and mentioned something about how we used to have to [fill in the blank with some chore] with only [fill in the blank with the outmoded way of doing things] because we didn’t have [modern convenience that teenagers now take for granted]. The young woman behind the counter, who had to be no more than 19 or 20 years old, replied with that tone that you use to placate your grandfather on what an amazing story he just told about the good old days. I realized to my horror that I was probably one of hundreds of middle-aged to elderly people that have lectured her on “how easy you youngsters have it these days with your newfangled contraptions”, and I wanted to apologize for each and every one of us.
What is it about getting to this age that makes you want to tell young people how hard you had it in comparison to their supposedly cushy life? Along with the other lovely accessories to aging, such as aches in places I never noticed before, and digging in my change purse for the exact change for just long enough to annoy the person behind me at the deli, I find that I am almost unable to stop myself from pulling out “when I was a girl” anecdotes for any whippersnapper that comes along.
There is a special look that comes across the face of every teenager when faced with “when I was a girl” stories from older people. They should bottle that look and use it as a weapon of war, it is that lethal. The eyes glaze over, the mouth curls into a frown of derision, the nose scrunches up just enough to signify that they smell something really distasteful – most probably the smell of impending death coming from the older person across from them harping about how in their day there were no computers or interwebs to help them with their homework. Oh, how fascinated young people are to hear about card catalogues in the library. I know. I recently bored some glazed over young thing with the tales of Ye Olden Days Before Word Processing and Web Browsers, when men were men, and women had to actually go to the library to research for term papers. I cower in shame before my computer at the memory. Not of the term paper research, but because for some reason, I felt the need to tell the story to the completely uninterested victim, er, listener.
Now, sit down next to me and let me tell you about how the olden days before MTV, when you had to stay up late at night to watch “The Midnight Special” to see rock acts once a week. Oh, you kids with your ipods have no idea how good you have it.