There is a cartoon by Roz Chast in the New Yorker magazine, page 47 of the August 29, 2011, that made me laugh. She always hits my neuroses right on the button. I probably risk copyright infringement if I attempt to paste the cartoon into my blog for you, so I will describe it. It seems to be autobiographical and has 6 panels, one for each decade of her life when she has failed to embrace the current zeitgeist. She says she was too young for the 60s, too squeamish for the 70s, too unambitious for the 80s, too techno-phobic for the 90s, too poor for the 00s, and too old for the teens. In the last “too old” panel, she draws herself sitting on a park bench as two young things walk by. One asks, “What’s that old lady doing?” The other says, “I think she’s reading a book!”
I think Roz Chast and I must have been born the same year!
Having been born in 1953, I fall into the latter half of the Baby Boomer generation (the US Census bureau says we span 1946 – 1964) – i.e., the group that wasn’t nearly as participatory as the elder boomers who were weaned on Rock and Roll and social activism.
I was 11 when the Beatles first came to North America. Their flight from London stopped for refueling at Winnipeg International Airport (no kidding!) I heard about this on the radio. But being only 11, I was obviously too young to drive and had parents unwilling to take me. I missed the whole thing. I got to see the coverage on the news. All those screaming teens waving to the Fab Four who came out briefly onto the steps of the plane to greet their adoring fans? I wasn’t among them.
By the late 60s when kids were hitchhiking across Canada to groove on the Summer of Love in Vancouver, I was in Grade 9. There might have been 14 year old hippies out there, but we all knew they were no- good kids. At 14, I wasn’t even allowed to stay at home alone when my parents went out.
I was in university for most of the 70s. But too chicken for the protests, the environmentalism, the back-to-the-land escapism, the student union, the crafts. Sure I wore a head scarf tied on backwards, but really only on days I didn’t want to get up early enough to wash my hair before class.
I wore shoulder pads in the 80s but it didn’t fool anybody. I wasn’t ambitious enough to break any glass ceilings. I did have one job as a project coordinator on a construction site. I wore steel toe boots and a construction hat on my first day, but got big laughs from the guys on site. Fortunately it was October 31st and I told them it was, ha, ha, my Hallowe’en costume.
The 90s were a blur of techno-phobia. It seemed to me that everyone knew computer language and my vocabulary was so far behind I was too embarrassed to ask anyone to explain what a gigabyte, or a URL or a browser was, let alone how to use Microsoft Word. To this day I don’t know the difference between a jpeg and a tiff. When email was just brand new, Ken (who revels in new technology) sent a Christmas greeting to his entire contact list, including me. When I replied with a prickly response, which was something like, “Nice! You sent your wife a Christmas greeting on email!” I hit Reply All without knowing I shouldn’t have done that. Some of Ken’s contacts thought that was very amusing. I was mortified.
Then the 21st century arrived. Roz Chast’s cartoon shows her looking aghast as two women ogle a pair of shoes that are on sale for $600. Yeah, I was too poor for the 00s. We all were! There hasn’t been a good economy since 1999! When did we all start needing $600 shoes, granite counter tops and stainless steel fridges? I blame the “improvement” shows on TV! I think it’s those home improvement shows that feature young couples looking for their first homes who HAVE TO HAVE stainless appliances that caused the housing crisis!
So, now that we are in the two thousand teens, I hate to think that I’m too old for the current social milieu. But I don’t have my Kindle yet! Hey, at least I know what a Kindle is!Sketchbook by Roz Chast appears in the New Yorker magazine – go to www.newyorker.com to see her work, including the