Monday, January 24, 2011

Generation X

I was having dinner last week with some girlfriends and heard myself ask aloud "didn't you love the 70's?" Granted, a few were a bit younger and didn't quite meet the birth timeline to be considered Generation X so I got a few shrugged shoulders and polite smiles.  Well, I'm going on record.  The seventies rocked.  The eighties were awesome.  Granted, we have loads more technology at our fingertips but who's to say that's always for the best?

I have two kids.  I am observant...I notice and I compare.  I get that some things have improved, others haven't...and this is what I think....

Vehicles / Traveling

Carseats & Boosters
OK, this is a no-brainer...statistics show zillions of babies would be dead if not five point harnessed into a car seat that has been bolted to the back seat.  If you put said car seat in the front seat, you are a monster because of, that's right, the risk of the air bags exploding...which didn't exist in the seventies.  My favorite spot to sit was on the floor board of the passenger side.  In the front.  When I was about seven.  I would use the space as my own personal cubby, look up at my mom and babble about Andy Gibb.  NO ONE THOUGHT IT WAS WEIRD when we would get to our destination and rather than being un-strapped from a booster seat, I would spill out onto the parking lot.  The same applies for pick-ups.  No one thought anything of a bunch of kids going down a freeway in the back.  I would do that with my cousins and we'd pretend we were different types of dogs.  By the time the ride was over, our hair would have a million tangles and the only thing that would work was half a bottle of  No More Tears.  Who doesn't remember being left in the car when your mom ran into the store?  Again, this wasn't weird.  It also wasn't weird to leave the car running because it was cold and she wanted to keep the heater on.  If someone were to stumble upon a car full of kids in a parking lot with a running car these days, the shit?  Would HIT THE FAN.

As a child, I had a shoestring with our house key on it and wore it tied around my neck, under my shirt.  I WALKED to and from school alone.  No adult supervision, just other kids, doing the same thing, half of whom had fed themselves breakfast that consisted of either Pop Tarts or Fruity Pebbles.   Nowadays, we are made to feel guilty if we even consider sugary cereal and eggs that aren't fucked with to include extra omegas because clearly, regular eggs will turn them into drooling idiots.

There were a few kids back in high school who regularly brought rifles to school...they'd put them in their lockers (yes, lockers) so they could go hunting after school.  It never occurred to anyone these guys might lose it and go on a shooting rampage.  The mentality, the ideas, just simply weren't there.  Now, however, a kindergartner bringing in an army guy holding a little piece of pointing plastic that is supposed to be a gun but actually looks more like a toothpick makes the news.  Because clearly he is a tiny maniac with a pipe bomb in his SpongeBob backpack...probably nestled next to his Juicy Juice box.

We picked teams.  Sometimes we were the last picked, sometimes we were first, depending on who the captains were.  If it was our best friend, we got to strut up next to them and look at the losers who hadn't been picked yet.  If it wasn't a friend, we would talk to the remaining unchosen about how much we hated dodge ball and pretend not to notice the diminishing group of hopefuls.  Gym teachers didn't give a shit about how this made us feel.  We were expected to suck it up, grab a giant pink ball and hurl it as hard as possible at someone elses face while they tirelessly blew their whistles. My kids didn't know what dodge ball was until I told them, because it was determined at some point to be too violent...hmmm, MY generation threw balls at each other and went through the humiliating team picking process.  But we didn't shoot each other.  Today, anything considered 'too rough' is eliminated...and kids are shooting each other...connection? 

Guys drove old trans ams and mustangs and wore permed mullets with their parachute pants.  We wore leggings and giant sweaters.  We teased the shit out of our hair and wore shoes that had laces with pictures on them.  Now?  Guys wear pants that hang down past their knees, forcing them to walk like they have elephantitis of the genitals.  Girls?  Wear practically nothing except a Bluetooth.

Everything else...
We had musicians that stood the test of time.  Bon Jovi and Motley Crue are still hugely successful and touring.  Does anyone really think the Jonas Brothers will sell out Madison Square Garden in 25 years?  No. We went to concerts and spent too much money on concert t shirts.  There was no we saw it live or we didn't see it. We also were the first generation to REALLY push the limits.  Mohawk?  Seen it.  Purple hair?  Seen it. Nose ring?  Please, half of my friends have them.  Nothing 'rebellious' really shocks us.  We laugh at idiocy (ie wearing jeans that don't cover the ass), but aren't shocked by it. 

We went to arcades.  We put in our quarters and played Pac Man until our hands cramped.  Now, kids have X Boxes and  Wii's.  Finding a quarter in the return coin thingie was exhilarating.

We played outside until it was dark.  Running, jumping, riding bikes and climbing trees.  Now, kids sit on their asses and do all of this via some virtual game....and we wonder why childhood obesity is out of control?  Hello, people, it's NOT the Fruity Pebbles. It's the fact these kids aren't moving like we did.

 We HAD JOBS. Everyone I knew as a teenager had some piddly job they hated.  I have spoken to friends with young adult children who have never worked.  Ever.  But they spend countless hours doing World of Warcraft..and brag about how much their accounts are 'worth.'

I get that times change.  I understand and appreciate all of the wonderful things technology has brought us.  I truly do.  But if I had a choice, my kids would grow up at a point in time they would ride their bike for hours,  exploring our neighborhood...they would get thirsty and rather than come inside, they'd drink out of the hose.   I could take them to McDonalds for dinner and not know what the fuck a trans fat was.   We would go to a drive-in movie in our truck, sit in the back with blankets and enjoy the sound of the  crackly, clunky speaker hanging on for dear life.  We wouldn't have cell phones that were glued to our heads.  We wouldn't assume the world would stop revolving if we weren't text-able. We would laugh and point at the moron with pants around his ankles because that's just damn ridiculous...and rather than worry if he had a fucking Uzi in his giant pants, we would be confident he was just an idiot and not about to blow our faces off.  We wouldn't know what the hell 'politically correct' meant.  That's how MY generation grew up....and I wouldn't trade it for anything.