Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What Would J.J. Walker Say?

What did he ever say?  No - I'm not answering that (One should never ask a lady what sit-com catch phrases she remembers....)
Below is a  a little blog post I wrote last fall.  I later pulled it from here, I thought, I can rebuild it, make it stronger, so I revised it and sent it to the local paper and they put it on their website.  I stumbled over it there tonight and decided it really belongs back here.   It's still mine (they didn't pay me, of course).  So it's back again, with an edit or two to freshen it up.     
Click if you remember this!” A spate of these commands has arrived on my Facebook page lately from friends and acquaintances of my age.
I have been asked to click if I could identify an ice-cube tray, Captain Kangaroo, Corningware casserole dishes, and a picture of Elizabeth Montgomery, Dick York, and the little girl who played Tabitha (whoever she was — I can’t be arsed to Google it).
Apparently, the subtle thief of youth has done his business and I have become the holder of arcane historical knowledge.
Since I recognized each at an instant, I have apparently joined the new, or at least incipient, elderly. How did this happen?
Carol Burnett, Marimekko pattern wallpapers, Mikey-who-hates-everything, etc., are among my generation’s age-defining shibboleths — what Betty Grable, roller towels and lap rugs were for the group I am accustomed to thinking of as actual, proper old people. (Or, maybe, Dean Jones, Jonathan Livingston Seagull and love beads, for the new old people).
And the hints that age has crept up on me aren’t coming only from Facebook.
My boss made a reference to Laverne and Shirley at work the other day to a bright thirtysomething colleague and she looked at him with complete, utter blankness. Even prompting — “Two girls who work in a brewery in Milwaukee, spinoff from Happy Days?” — brought no flicker of recognition.
Fonzie, hold me!
I do think, however — in my defense and others closing on their 30th high-school reunion — that the pace of life today has had the effect of rendering a lot of things ancient before their time, perhaps including us. I have a 15-year-old daughter who has taken to referring to the period prior to 2011 as “her childhood.” Obviously that’s over. Duh.
But I am wondering how soon she and her peers will find themselves in the position of historical interpreters. I’ll bet that, before they finish college, their FB friends (assuming FB has another five years in it) will be asking them to click when they recognize any one of the Teletubbies, or a flip phone, or Saturday mail delivery.
By the way, despite the fact that I recognized all the history flash cards that have recently been presented to me, I didn’t click on any of them. It was just too depressing to think (and admit) that I am part of a lost world, already.
Also, I worried that Internet-trawling market bots would use those clicks against me. The ads at the side of the page would likely become infinitely more depressing (reverse mortgages, The Scooter Store, diabetes supplies, etc.) Other, worse things would likely follow.
In my heart, however, I clicked.
My God. How old must that girl who played Tabitha on Bewitched be by now?