Monday, January 3, 2011

Our Faces Are Groovy: The Baby Boom Turns 65.

My grandpa referred to them as “hippies” or “commies” or “longhairs.” Whenever I visited my great aunt in Yakima, and she’d spot one, she’d misguidedly say, “Look at that beatnik over there. Please don’t become one of them, Timmy.”

I was always intrigued by them; they’d seemed so outspoken and rebellious. And as of this year, they’ve joined the ranks of the elderly, the same demographic occupied by those who stood so harshly in judgment of them forty years ago.

They are sixty-five years of age and they…are the Baby Boomers.

Technically, I’m one of them. Since 1962 was the year my mom awoke from her general anesthesia to discover she had given birth to me, I fall at the tail end of this pervasive generation, which is defined as anyone born between 1946 and 1964.

Since I'm a bookend, I don't share many common experiences with these children of the Greatest Generation. While the older Boomers enjoyed the inspired musical groundswell of The Beatles and their British counterparts, kids my age were lucky to experience a Canadian invasion. It was just a little more challenging to rally behind the anthems of Gordon Lightfoot and Bryan Adams.

The older Boomers burned draft cards and bras; they took to the streets to cry out against that insidious bourgeois enemy, the establishment. We younger folks may have burned a library card or two and we took to the malls to protest the removal of the cigarette machines. Our generational elders paved the way for a more progressive society; we paved the way for a new breed of activist known as the Young Republican.

The junior Booms did enjoy some advantages over the codgers. We didn't have to wear those weird saddle shoes (okay, I actually did), we didn't get polio and we reaped the benefits of the processed food wave. Frosted Pop Tarts and Crunch Berries were food groups denied our elders until well into adulthood.

Our demographic squad was succeeded by generations X , Y and, I suppose, Z; our Ping Pong was replaced by Pong, which was replaced by Space Invaders, which was replaced by Myst, which was replaced by Call of Duty, which was replaced by sexting. Such a grand technological evolution it's been.

So, how about a little quiz?

What do Barack Obama and George W. Bush have in common? If you guessed that both have held our nation’s highest office, you’d be correct. Sure, one is a brilliant Constitutional scholar who bucked our racist history, while the other can't seem to make the transition from being hooked on alcohol to being hooked on phonics, but they, in addition to Bill Clinton, have been our only Baby Boomer presidents thus far.

How about Bono and Prince Charles? Yep, they’re Boomers, too, even though Bono has female undergarments thrown at him while Chuck prefers that they're presented on a Waterford platter with a side serving of mango relish.

Conan O’Brien and Bill O’Reilly? Both are Irish, both are comedians, and both are Baby Boomers.

Then there's Ted Bundy and Karl Rove. They, too, are members of the Boomer Club, but they've got so much else in common, the only difference is that Rove has less hair and a passenger seat in his car.

How did you do on the quiz? In case it’s piqued your interest, other notable Baby Boomers include Donald Trump, Courtney Love, Billy Ray Cyrus, Mitt Romney, Tom Cruise, Rush Limbaugh, The Bee Gees and Fabio.

I'm simply bristling with Boomer pride.

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