A parable for the ‘ages’

“Baby boomers,” old man Barker said at the weekly canasta game. “Me, me, me. My, my, my. They all act like they’ll never get old. They think 60 is the new 16. Always running, always out power walking. Eating salads for brunch. They think they’re going to live forever. They won’t live forever, but with all that exercise and rabbit food, it will just seem like forever.”

“I don’t know what they’re thinking about half the time,” chimed in Woodrow. “They think being married is like test- driving a car. Don’t like it, turn it in and buy a new one. Feeling old, take Viagra. It wasn’t that way when I was a kid, I’ll tell you that. When you got married, you stayed married, no matter how much you hated each other. You did it for the kids.”

“That’s right,” Barker said. “But these boomers, they expect everything to be handed to them on a silver platter. They get upset if everything doesn’t go exactly their way. I’m not saying we were the greatest generation, but we stood up when we were called, we didn’t move to Canada. We didn’t dodge our responsibilities. You did your job, and you kept your mouth shut. We didn’t talk about it.

“Now everyone wants to ‘share’ feelings, everyone wants to ‘reach out.’ Has that made the world a better place? Has it. Talk shows? People sitting around talking. That’s entertainment? Please. Shut. Up.”

Woodrow discarded a six of clubs. “Boomers don’t know the value of a dollar. When we were kids, you worked for spending money. Now I hear that parents pay their kids to do homework. Paying them to do what they should be doing in the first place! No wonder this country’s in trouble. Everyone wants something for nothing.”

Barker played a seven of hearts. “They smoke dope; they think casual Fridays are good business; they take personal days; they eat yogurt as if it were some kind of yummy medicine. They don’t cook – they microwave stuff. They think people owe them a living; they drink lattes and slurp gelatos. They use hair gel. I wonder if we’d have won the war with this bunch?”

Woodrow laughed. “Do you see that stuff they watch on TV? Half-naked people living on islands? Girls and boys who think marriage is about winning a game show. What kind of people think this stuff up? Remember Betty Grable? I used to think that was the sexiest outfit I’d ever seen, that pinup picture of hers. Now women wear outfits like that to church socials.”

“Remember when only enlisted men used to get tattoos?” Barker asked. “Now everyone has a tattoo. Men. Women. Children. What is that all about? During the war, I thought, ‘Why not get a tattoo? I might not be here tomorrow.’ But these boomers – what’s the most dangerous thing they’re ever going to face? High cholesterol food? Ohhhh, I’m so scared. When we got tattoos, we got the kind that said we were tough. Anchors. Flags. Insignias. The symbol of boomer fiber? A butterfly. That’ll scare the enemy to death. If their earrings don’t.”

Woodrow’s son Harry – a divorced, earring-wearing, health-nut boomer who just turned 60 – had been listening to the conversation. “So, let me ask you,” he said. “Who raised all those horrible baby boomers?”

Jim Mullen is the author of “It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life” and “Baby’s First Tattoo.” You can reach him at jim_mullen@myway.com

Copyright 2009, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.

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