'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
GRATEFUL FOR OPPORTUNITY TO COMPLAIN
I recently heard an interesting “generation gap” story. Some college-aged people were at a social function with some senior citizens. One of the younger persons expressed frustration by saying, “Ooh, why doesn’t he answer his cell phone?!” In reply, one of the older persons declared, “Kids these days don’t know how good they have it! During the Depression, we had to put cardboard in our shoes—and we were grateful for the cardboard! And for supper, the only thing we had to eat was boiled cardboard—and we were grateful for it!”
Later on one of the other younger persons said, “I hate this skirt. I should’ve worn my new pink skirt.” Immediately one of older persons said, “Kids these days don’t know how good they have it! During the Depression all of our clothes were made of burlap—and we were grateful for the burlap! And for supper, the only thing we had to eat was boiled burlap—and we were grateful for it!”
From what I’ve been told, this generational back-and-forth went on all evening—or at least until 7:15 p.m., when the seniors had to go to bed for the night. (“Kids these days don’t know how good they have it! During the Depression we had to sleep on plywood—and we were grateful for the plywood! And for supper, the only thing we had to eat was boiled plywood—and we were grateful for it!”)
This episode highlights one of the most enjoyable aspects of growing older: complaining about spoiled, ungrateful young people. It’s been going on since the dawn of mankind. Even during primitive days, a cave man would say to his son, “During the Pleistocene Era we had to sleep on rocks—and we were grateful for the rocks! And for supper, the only thing—” Then the son would interrupt and say, “But Dad, we STILL sleep on rocks.” And the father would say, “And we had enough respect NOT to interrupt our elders!”
As someone who recently entered his middle-aged years, and who is careening at warp speed toward full-fledged senior citizenship, I am looking forward to honing my complaining skills. It’s true I did not experience Depression-era deprivations, when people had to wear burlap clothes, sleep on plywood, and put cardboard in their shoes. (On the other hand, at least they had a diet that was high in fiber.)
I’m not from the “Greatest Generation,” those folks who endured the hardships of the Depression for a decade and then were shipped overseas to fight fascism during the bloodiest conflict in history, World War II. (“We had to shoot burlap bullets at the Germans—and we were grateful for the burlap!”)
No, I’m a Baby Boomer, which means I’m from the “Greediest Generation.” My generation has been spoiled rotten. We had no severe hardships (other than the ugly clothes we were forced to wear during the ‘70s).
However, the key point is that no matter how spoiled and self-indulgent we Baby Boomers are, our children are even MORE spoiled. So as we become cranky oldsters, we have plenty of things to complain about. I’m already compiling a list. I will begin, of course, by saying, “Kids these days don’t know how good they have it! During the ‘70s we had to…”
Then I’ll mention one of the many terrible things we had to endure, such as: talking on rotary-dial phones, listening to 8-track tapes, watching only three channels on television, and having only one type of Oreo cookie to choose.
Finally, I’ll conclude with, “And we were grateful for it!” Even though we weren’t.
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