There is one good aspect about being a junior geezer. (I don’t consider myself a geezer-geezer just yet, since I’ve only recently joined AARP and I’ve been getting the senior discount at Dunkin Donuts for just a few years now.) The good aspect is my many years of experience. When you’ve been around the block quite a few times, you can observe a current situation and remember how drastically different things were in the past.
These days I find myself saying quite often, “I’m old enough to remember when…” And whenever I do this, my kids exclaim, “Oh no, Dad’s in nostalgia mode. Everybody run!”
The fact is, things have indeed changed a lot since I was a young whippersnapper in the 1960s and 70s. For example, I’m old enough to remember…
- when you had to go to the library and look in an encyclopedia for information, rather than do a Google search with your phone.
- when you would convince yourself, “I really don’t need to know that, anyway,” rather than go to the library.
- when the “numbers racket” was a vice run by the mob, rather than a game run by the state, and promoted with glitzy TV ads.
- when cigarettes were OK and marijuana was bad, rather than the other way around.
- when I’d forget to write thank you notes rather than forget to write thank you emails.
- when I could bend over to tie my shoes without grunting loudly as if I were giving birth.
- when major league rookies were twice my age rather than seasoned veterans being half my age.
Over the years, I’ve also witnessed remarkable changes in technology. I’m old enough to remember…
- when phones were attached to walls.
- when you dialed phone numbers rather than pressed buttons. (Or even more weird, say out loud: “Siri, call Arnold McGillicuddy.”)
- when people
were actually named Arnold McGillicuddy.
- when phone numbers began with a word, such as Lucy and Ricky Ricardo’s phone number: Murray Hill 5-9975 (or my number growing up: Montrose 9-7122).
- when the only music option in a car was a scratchy sounding AM radio, which went silent every time you drove under a bridge.
- when a wire coat hanger worked fine as a replacement car antennae.
- when an 8-track player was the greatest thing you could ever install in a car.
- when you could open the hood of a car and recognize the engine right away.
- when the dentist’s office looked like a typical kitchen with a weird chair, rather than the flight deck of a space ship.
By far, I’d have to say the most drastic changes have occurred in our American culture. I’m old enough to remember…
- when supporters of free speech did not offer this qualifier: “Unless it makes me uncomfortable.”
- when the only person who would examine your private parts was the doctor, not the airport TSA agent.
- when people actually used the phrase “private parts.”
- when locker
room language was heard mostly in locker rooms, rather than on prime time
- when only women had earrings, and only sailors and bikers had tattoos.
- when hardly anyone had earrings in their noses.
- when NO ONE had earrings in, um, a bunch of other delicate body parts.
- when there were far less than 29 possible genders.
- when the term
“Thought Crime” was an Orwellian warning about totalitarian regimes,
rather than standard policy on college campuses.
- when parents would thank a teacher for disciplining a disruptive child rather than filing a lawsuit against the teacher.
presidents — whether you agreed with their policies or not — acted
And finally, I’m old enough to remember when you didn’t have to explain to anyone what “acting presidential” meant.