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Life as performance art

Life as performance art

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By Fr. G. Corwin Stoppel

 

I’m a Boomer and proud of it. Not that I have much choice, since I was born in the demographics associated with that moniker.

According to Urban Dictionary, Boomer is not a term of endearment. It is most often used by people born after the mid-1960s, often with sarcasm and rolled eyes. It seems to be a shorthanded method of saying, “Yes, you old geezer, you really have become your father.”

Although Boomer can be applied to both men and women, it is more often aimed at men. Karen, as in “she’s a Karen,” is sometimes applied to women.  Both Boomer and Karen were introduced on something called TikTok, which I thought was the sound made by wind-up clocks.
Every age group or generation has a nickname. My parents belonged to the Silent (sometimes known as The Greatest) Generation because they survived the Great Depression and World War II. In turn, they gave rise to the Baby Boomers. Following them are Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z, or something like that.

Younger generations have always disparaged the group older than them. I remember my father using a hammer to straighten nails, wandering through the house turning off lights and doing a lot of DIY (do it yourself) projects straight out of Mechanics Illustrated.

He liked Lawrence Welk and “Bonanza” and was slightly embarrassed by “mushy” scenes on television. “Laugh-in” was highly suspicious, although his idea of a worthy political candidate was Pat Paulsen. I did plenty of eye-rolling and let out long sighs of frustration.

Mark Twain had it right: When we turn 14, our parents are the dumbest oafs ever to walk upright; when we turn 21, we are astounded at how wise they became in a mere seven years. It turned out Father and Mother were right about the importance of hard work, saving money, not letting the quest for entertainment rule our lives and a lot of other things.
There’s always been a division between generation groups. If Father were still alive I’d ask if ever he thought his dad, born in the late 1800s, was an old fuddy-duddy. He must have been, because there isn’t even a nickname or tag for that generation.

There are always going to be divisions between generations, but here’s the thing: According to research done in the UK, most of us inherit 20 or more personality traits from our parents that we pass on to the next generation.
What makes this division different is that it is too easy to make nasty comments and inflict pain because of the anonymity of so much social media. It makes me nostalgic for those Saturday morning black-and-white television westerns where two tough guys, about ready to pull out their trusty six-shooters, have a staring contest and one of them says, “Smile when you call me that.”

For my fellow geezers, do you remember those rubbery squeeze-open coin holders? They’re from the era of plastic pocket protectors and slide rules in holsters.

If you have one, get it out again, and the next time you’re in a checkout line and someone sneers, “OK, Boomer,” get it out and slowly, ever so carefully,  count out your change.

That’s not passive-aggressive behavior. We’re merely teaching the kids patience, just like we learned from the Silent Generation.