Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Points of Reference

There comes a time in everyone's life when one looks around and goes "DANG! What do you mean you don't have a point of reference regarding this?"  Wait, no?  You don't know what I'm talking about with that whole "point of reference" business?  Let me try to be a little clearer.  What I'm talking about is that time in life when you look around you and begin to understand that the younger generation(s) has/have not a clue of which you speak.

In other're an adult (gasp!).

I realized it several years ago when someone in the entertainment world that I grew up watching on television would pass on and I'd be sad...only to realize that my kids had no clue who I was talking about.  But in a world where things move quicker than a Kardashian changes "significant others"...this runs around a whole lot quicker than I had previously imagined.  And while I'm on that subject, will someone of the younger generation please explain to me exactly why anyone gives a Kardashian's IQ (the only thing I could think of smaller than a "rat's behind") about this particular group of people anyway.  Bruce Jenner and the Olympic thing?  Fine.  I get that.  I watched him win the medal.  But this generation knows him as the Kardashians' stepfather.  I mean...seriously.  I'm sure that the "Ks" are very nice - albeit extremely shallow and materialistic people - but what exactly do they do that is so amazing that everyone hangs on their every movement?  I honestly don't see it.

Plus Kanye's "baby Mama"?  No.  Just no.  And then name her "North"? North West (*sigh*).

But back to my topic...the other day, one of Jill's friends was lamenting that the younger generation has no idea about AOL "instant messenger" in a world of cell phones, texting, and Twitter.  Bless their hearts, they are starting to have point of reference issues at age 23.  I was in my 30's before that happened.  For reals.

Every year, some group with apparently nothing better to do but make me feel old puts out a list of the points of reference that the most recent graduating class knows not of.  Things that seem like they just happened a couple of years ago (like my graduation)...but now that I look back...totally happened a quarter of a century or more ago.  Sometimes I forget that I have a whole half century under my belt.

Last week, on our trek to Huntsville to find somewhere for him to live that is not under my roof (sad, sad day), Brian made me feel bad when I told him that I knew the route to Birmingham well because I had an old boss (aka "The Wicked Witch of the North" who had a mole that I imagined was a wart on her chin so it wasn't that much of a stretch) who made me drive up there (90 miles each way) every Monday for a staff meeting so she could have some "face time" or whatever we called it then.  I still haven't quite gotten over the fact that she took up 20% of my workweek so that I could tell her how I was planning to spend the other 80%.  I still made my goals in spite of her.  Not that we didn't have that miraculous invention called "the telephone" that could have handled that just as well.

But I digress...because, of course, I do...

That's when he told me that my recollections were almost twenty years old.


Okay, FINE, he was right.  I wore that road out in 1994.  He was two at the time.  Whatever.  Funny thing, though, I can still remember how much I hated driving up there every Monday and spending the day with "the mole."  Surely, there should be a statute of limitations on this kind of thing.

Here's another one that happened within the past week..I heard that the movie "World War Z" was written by Max Brooks...son of Mel Brooks.  I thought it was cool...until I realized that the kids watching this movie have no idea who Mel Brooks was.  Or that Max Brooks' mother - Anne Bancroft - was Mrs. Robinson in "The Graduate."

See?  Exactly.

I suppose I benefited from living in a home where entertainers were watched and celebrated and it was multi-generational.  So, I learned who people were from my grandmother's generation, and my mother's, and of own.  I also had an immense love of reading biographies...that started when I was a child and continues today.  I'm interested in the experiences that other people have had, the shenanigans that they have gotten into or been extricated from...and what fabulous or just ordinary things that set them apart.  Things like...J.P. Morgan (a banker from the early 20th century...) grew Easter lilies...or that a guy I used to work with was the Duncan yo-yo champion for the state of Texas one year.

Come on...that last one is pretty cool.

Sometimes I feel bad that I didn't do a better job of exposing my children to culture...and insisting that they know more about history than they do.  Part of it is...neither of them really have a curiosity about people that way...and so they've found their own areas of interest.  Things like the differences in cars and what is cool about each make and model (something she has picked up working at Enterprise) and physics (something that Brian finds comes naturally to him) that sounds more like aerobics than science to me, but whatever.

While I may not have taken them to every play within a 90 mile radius (something that my mother would have highly approved of because that's HER thing)...I did insist that they know what decent music sounds like by exposing them to the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd, AC/DC, Def Leppard, Creed, Collective Soul, and Talking Heads...just to name a few.  Not that it did a whole lot of good...Jill likes Country and Contemporary Christian...but every so often I'll hear her listening to 90s alternative...and I know some of it got through.  Brian is all over the map musically...but since he remembers songs if he's ever heard them once...I call him "human jukebox."  He turns on Foo Fighters while I'm in the car...and we have the best time just singing and riding around together.

Okay, I have fun.  Hopefully he does.  Maybe he is laughing at me rather than with me...hmmm.....

The older I get, the more I realize that some of what I know will become more and more useless as time goes by.  That I can remember the lyrics to songs by The Eagles or Elton John because I listened to them ad nauseum while I was in junior high when I was young and impressionable.  I probably could sing everything on the Grease soundtrack, too.  That ability has failed me when I started listening to music again in my 40's and was enjoying Linkin Park and Foo Fighters.  I know a lot of the words...but not all of them.

Sad, but true.  Doesn't mean I don't sing my heart out just the same.  Kind of like this...

My kids don't know who Johnny Carson was, don't remember much about 9/11, and weren't alive when Challenger went down.  They don't remember Clinton as President (so thankfully I didn't have to 'splain anything) and they don't remember when MTV played music.  They get annoyed when I call something by its previous name...because they don't understand why I find that strangely comforting.  The Dillard's Department store in town has been here for many years...but I still call it Gayfers because that's what it was when I moved here.  Big Dave and I had a friend who used to call Gayfers "Montgomery Fair" - what it was known as prior to I know I'm not alone in this.

In a few years, I'll probably be even less in touch with what is going on than I am now.  That someday I'll abandon learning the latest technology and I'll quit wasting time doing things I'm not particularly good at or following that about which I care not.

It is already starting with the music.  I don't know the names of many of the new bands or singers.  I haven't gotten too into shows like American Idol or The Voice.  Frankly, I just don't have time.  But every once in awhile I'll glom onto something and get obsessive about it (like, um, Channing Tatum.  Because yes.  Just yes.)

Here he is with his WIFE (Jenna Dewan Tatum) and his baby girl before she got here.  (I wanted to put a picture of his family, because it grosses me out to read some of the comments that young girls write on his Facebook page whenever he posts anything.  He's married.  He's someone's Dad.  Get over it.)  But still.  He's pretty, yes?  Yes, he is.  And he's from Alabama.

Okay, FINE, here's another picture.

Better?  Yes.

Anyway, the whole point of reference thing is probably responsible for a lot of the angst of getting older.  My grandmother used to love Jerry Clower records.

Me?  Not so much.

But then like stuff that I honestly don't I suppose we're kind of sort of even.

Like this...

Yeah.  "Thrift Store".  Yo.

Anyway, I love the fact that we all have some things in common that seem to never change...

Our religious traditions.

Flowers will normally make people smile.

Chocolates on your pillow make you feel special.

That a hug from your kids will melt your heart.

Channing Tatum (trust me...Mom, me, Jill...are all thumbs up).

Excitement during football season.

The almost any time.

Ice cream.  Particularly homemade peach.

Getting a handwritten note from someone.

Finding unexpected cash in your pocket.


The song "Sweet Home Alabama."

I'm sure that there are many more...but it gives me comfort to know that there are some things that I know haven't gone out of style or are obsolete.  That I can pass down my love of something like a golden thread to the next generation who will likely do the same.

And so on.

So, the next time that you hear a song on the radio and you don't know (or couldn't care less) who is singing...let that go.  It's really okay.  Our kids have no idea who Perry Como we're even.

Pretty much, anyway.  Bless their Rihanna-loving little hearts.  Because watch this and answer for me what is going on in this video, why her nails look like they do, and why her hair looks like it does.  I have no point of reference...

But that's really, really okay.  I have enough to explain with ZZ Top.

Yeah, well, whatever.

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