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    « What I Did On My Day Off | Main | If Only I Were Clever Enough »

    Thursday, March 15, 2007


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    When I was in elementary school the kids across the street used to have to wash their mouths out with soap when they smarted off. Toothbrush and squirty soap, I remember. That was in the early 90s, so not all that archaic, unfortunately!

    I laughed at the Irish diaphragm, one too. I don't think it's so much that they're too young... unless 25 is suddenly a lot older than I thought. Dude.


    Oh I feel you. I am coming to the same realization. I am completely surprised to be in my mid-forties. I tell ya I have no clue how I got here (and with no black-outs involved).


    Honey, it may say something about me that I interpreted the "sounds" of your title as a manual typewriter... Anyway, I'm in my mid-30s and I have jokes fall completely flat. I dumbfounded my students once when I pointed out that when I was in college there was no internet (to speak of). They nearly fell out of their chairs when I told them about surfing the incipient web back when there were no pictures. (Mosaic anyone?) If you wanted pictures you had to download a bunch of binary code and then use a program to encode it into a nice, fuzzy form. I decided not to induce seizures by telling them I didn't have a cell phone until I was 33. There's nothing like being in a room full of 18-20 year olds to make one feel old--at any age over 25!


    I am 39 (today!) and there was, of course, that moment when my stepson defined a blog as "MySpace for old people." There was me co-hosting a radio show and having a high-school-age guest, when a certain name came up, say, "Um, I'm not really sure who Ronald Reeegan was." And there was my stepson's dumbfounded girlfriend trying to get her head around how I got lost on a road trip in college. "Why didn't you call your parents on your cell phone?" She honestly could not comprehend how travel was possible without constant communication.

    So we're all there, honey. And our parents and grandparents felt the same way about us!


    Kristen, I remember Mosaic! I worked at the computer center in college. It was my senior year the first time I saw it. Blew my mind. Previously we'd had only the VAX system, green/black screen, obscure commands like "finger". Tee. (I'm not old. I'm 12.) Also I taught high school until a couple of years ago and I'm 34 (yikes! mid-thirties indeed). I understand blowing their minds. It doesn't take much.

    Anyway, Norma, please tell me you do not wear mom jeans. They can cover the blubber, but for the love of God, no tapered leg. This is my public service announcement, for I would hate for a piece of denim to needlessly add on ten years. Yes, I know I just split my infinitive, but you tell me how to word it so it doesn't sound awkward. P.S. I know you probably have the coolest jeans ever, but I am just covering all bases.



    Where's Rilona's bud???? IS SHE BUDLESS?
    Oh, the humanity!
    My sympathies on the inevitable realization of the passing of time. It sucks!
    It's better than the alternative.
    Drink some wine for me. Please.


    You must have ordered your trees from Miller's! My mom got a quince tree from them a number of years ago. The new owners of her house will now get to enjoy the fruit- hopefully they won't make the mistake of eating them raw thinking it's a pear tree- hehehe.

    Dave Daniels

    Well, at least she didn't ask to see you AARP or Senior Pass...


    You sound like a broken record. I'll bet the students know what that means, but don't know why.

    Does my (failing, like all my other parts) memory serve me correctly that, if you want to talk strict chronology, I'm older than you?


    i don't know how vermont works, but in nebraska they card if you "look" 27 or younger. i got carded at christmas time for buying beer. i'm 40. gotta love it.

    and as for the irish diaphram, i don't think most kids even know what a diaphram is, let alone the whole irish thing. that would involve thinking about more than who is texting whom, what's going on on their best friend's myspace, and what brittney is doing in rehab today. sigh.

    were we that shallow?


    La, la, la, la, la....I'm not listening!


    Was TAB like a beer, or something? Good grief.

    You're in good company, girlfriend.

    Heather G.

    I am 25 and I got the Irish diaphragm joke. My Irish grandmother had 9 brothers and sisters.

    When I was in university, my ancient history prof was talking about ancient javelins being thrown with the aid of a leather thong. After the rampant giggling ceased, he told us that the year previous someone had misremembered this fact on the test and envisioned the spears thrown by the use of a leather bra! Hee hee.

    Anyway, he later directed us to this list:
    This is a list of things that kids starting college this year do and do not know. My favourite is for the kids starting in 2006: Barbie has ALWAYS had a job!


    My kickboxing teacher has a ton of vinyl records that he still plays (he's a DJ on the side). One day he pulled one out and one of the college students was completely mystified. "How do you tell where one song ends and the next starts?" This was (oh my God) almost 10 years ago.


    Yeah, Heather G., and Michael Jackson has always been white.

    A few years ago friends from out of town were visiting. After dinner I heard my old school chum in our kitchen saying to her daughters "I want you to see this" — it was a dial telephone.


    Your post was wonderful but some of the comments are priceless... dial telephone. MySpace for seniors/blogs (and here I thought I was catching up.) manual typewriters. I can't wait to see what dates the whippersnappers. In a decade. When I am finally learning how to text message and use a camera phone.


    I am 18 years older than my baby brother...He's finally at an age where we can have semi-conversations, 15...I say "semi" as I find myself defining a whole lot of stuff, and he says works I have no clue hurtses us.


    ahh.. I know that feeling.. The feeling of having to explain yourself to youngsters. I was a camp counselor for quite a few yrs and once about 10 yrs ago (when I was working in germany with US expats) I said to a child "watch out for that last step, it's a lu-lu." I spent 20 minutes explaining what a lu-lu was and we were late for breakfast. Don't kids watch bugs bunny anymore???


    My mother still has rotary phones...I laughed right along with you (I'm 53) and yes, I'm always amazed when I'm reminded by...anything...
    and I love you, this is a great post!

    Lisa in Oregon

    Great post, great comments.

    Some of my faves -
    "What's a record?"
    "Who is 'fleetwood mac'?"
    "Did they have tv when you were a kid mom?" Sheesh. I'm not THAT old.

    mary lou

    A friend of mine was lecturing her son on something age-related and he said yeah, yeah, I know, when you were a kid the internet was in black and white......


    Yesterday, in the dentist's chair, my young and attractive dentist complemented my shoes (new and, I thought, cute Teva Mary Janes) by saying, "Those look so comfortable." Then, to add insult to injury, she told me the kind of cavity that she was filling was a "sure sign of adulthood." Since my next birthday will be the mid-century one I assume she meant SENIOR adulthood. All this while drilling my teeth!
    And lately when I tell people that my daughter is 23 no one says, "You look too young to have a child that age!" I think I am older than I feel. How did that happen?


    Hell, the ground is till frozen solid! No trees until it thaws out a few feet. Mat is busy putting black liner over the snow to speed the whole coming of spring thing...


    This fall, all the Tube stations in London had posters for Echo and the Bunnymen's 25th anniversary. I walked by them every day for months, and every single time I thought to myself, "how is this possible? when did I get this old?" It's absurd that something so obivous should take me by surprise, and yet ....


    My fave young-person comment was in a music store that actually still deals in vinyl. And some young thing pulled out an album, studied the cover, then turned to her boyfriend and said, "Hey, did you know that Paul McCartney was in a another band before he was in Wings?"


    The Bug grabbed a bar of soap and took a bite the other day before I could stop him. It got stuck on his teeth and he cried because of the taste, until I could get it all out. Maybe he'll remember if I threaten to wash his mouth out with soap. Maybe I shouldn't say that to him, or I'll have to wash my OWN mouth out.
    We skipped spring and went right to summer here. It was 85 yesterday and I seriously considered turning on the AC. (My house is uninsulated brick, so in the sun it turns into one of those sweat boxes from the old prison movies... You know what I mean, right? ;-)


    We’re only as old as we feel, Norma (?? – what’s up with that phrase, anyway?). Last night my 13 year old daughter put the phone to my ear so that I could hear her friend do her monkey imitation, which she apparently does in person with motions and the whole nine yards. I laughed and said that she should take her act to the David Letterman show. Both of them said “Who is David Letterman??” Me: *blank stare*, followed by the realization of just how old I must be.

    The Queen of the Snow Cows

    You are not old. I laughed right along with you, and was threatened regularly with getting my mouth washed out with soap. And, I LOVE bad 70's music. And, dude, I'm 29.

    So either you're not old, or I really am.


    Better do your transcripts...


    Maybe they are just culturally deprived. Yeah - that's it. No frame of reference to the 1970s, or maybe the 80s, or even the 90s.


    You're not old. Younger people are just stupid. They don't get the finer bits of humor because their brains don't grow as big thanks to all the new fangled pollutants in the air.

    They are screwed. Poor Stupid Bastards. *L*

    Now I feel really bad for that comment in my post. I didn't mean that I was old old. Just compared to being 11 or so. While I realize this isn't helping I just want you to know I in no way feel you are old or over the hill or ready to kick the bucket.

    You are one of the younger in spirit people out there. And I'm not saying you are immature. :P Just that you are obviously still spunky and as they say you are only as young as you feel. So feel whatever age you want.

    And if you do decide to feel older, well there's nothing wrong with that.



    For the very first time in my life I ordered plants from a nursery in Ohio last week and did the same thing - "please don't ship these until early May!" - even though they say on their web site and in their catalog that they don't ship until an appropriate time for the zone you live in. I was just so nervous that I'd end up with all these live plants living on my dining room table until the ground unfroze enough to plant them. I think they're used to it though - my emailed invoice said they wouldn't ship until the last week of April at the earliest and that they usually watch the weather for where they're shipping to be sure they don't ship too early.

    I have one more seed/plant order to put in, but I'm waiting until I can verify that my dad can help me build raised beds that will be big enough for what I want to plant. *grin* This whole garden thing is certainly exciting!


    Norma, you're great, fantastic, super-duper - Who wants to be THAT young anymore anyway? I wouldn't want to go back there for even a minute.


    "the one whose pants come up above the blubber" hahahahahaha!!! That's going to keep me laughing all day!


    Did you order from Canandaigua Nursery? I have had REALLY good luck with them. The Heart nut trees I bought -Oh my G-D- 20 years ago turned out great as did the kiwi vines.
    Now that i live in Western NY, I am looking forward to visiting the nursery and when we buy a house here, having some fun planting.


    I was at the gym this morning and it was a very small class being March break and someone asked if I had children. "Oh yes, I said, but they are still at home sleeping" She was concerned I had left young children at home alone. When I told her how old they were she commented that I must have "started" young. Made my day! (As most days I am OLD)
    I find myself explaining dialogue when I watch movies with them. I know they don't understand a lot of the references and therefore don't get the joke. Not all are age related, though. It pays to be well read. (As I keep harping to them)

    ( Speaking of book,I just read your book wish list and I want the Herbal medicine book too!)


    Thanks I feel sooo much better after reading your post and all the comments- I turned 50 this week- when and how this happened I don't know- I was feeling ok about it -I listen and enjoy the Red Hot Chili Peppers -don't wear MOM jeans -feel pretty good about myself-THEN my 16 yr old asked just how OLD was I? 50 -I said- OMG! that is like almost dead -she replied!


    I remember having my mouth washed out with soap--terrible punishment! I threated my kids with it too, hehehehe.


    I'm with Anne--if getting those jokes is a sign of age, 25 is a lot older than I'd thought.


    Ha. I always feel like such a slug after reading comments like "Please tell me you don't wear Mom jeans." heh I can promise that I wear Mom jeans. Sometimes I wear something that impress my kids, but it's not often. My kids. Oh my gosh. The other day I was going to wear flipflops with a pair of jeans - they wouldn't let me out of the car. I was too embarrassing. Can you believe that? hehe

    Hilarious about the Irish diaphagm - I haven't heard that phrase before but I really cracked up when you said you were the only one who laughed out loud in the class! And the Tab. Right - I saw some of those tiny little cans - what's up with that? They don't want regaular quantities of Tab these days? Does it make Tab cool to come in tiny little cans?


    Mmmm... Tab.

    Before my now 21-year-old brother saw Wayne's World he thought that Bohemian Rhapsody was a jingle from a Mt. Dew ad. So sad.


    Norma, I'm a bit more than 50, and I still can't figure out where 50 years fit into my life. I don't remember any 50 years!

    Wow, Tab is an energy drink now -- what a hoot!


    We're not old. We are people who know things that the younger generations will never know, understand or be able to figure out.

    Norma, I'm in love with one of them. Trust me when I say this... They are aliens from a totally different culture, who just don't get it!


    My aunt said her 13 y.o. daughter wanted to know why she asked her to "roll down the window." "What's there to roll?" she wanted to know.


    Normie, you're a babe. Being 18 again brings with it all the insecurities and dumb-assedness. No thanks. I'll roll on and not be carded and be ok with it. MORE wine please.


    Back in the 1970s I recommended a song to someone who, it turned out, wasn't born yet when the song was popular.
    Didn't "isinglass windows that roll right down" (from The Music Man) predate car windows with crank handles?
    On Usenet, the internet is still in black and white.


    I'm sorry, I'm bustin' a gut at liquid soap on a toothbrush... I actually had my mouth washed out (hm, more than once, I think) with a big ol' BAR of soap. Heh. Yeah, it sometimes took me more than one unpleasant experience to learn a lesson.

    I like to think that I get most references not because I'm old, and it certainly isn't because I'm scholarly, but because I've paid attention and tried to keep an open mind.

    I learned a hell of a lot from watching cartoons, The Tonight Show, Laugh-in and The Smothers Brothers, too.

    Heh. Actually, I was too young and most of what was on Laugh-in and The Smothers Brothers went right over my head, but I knew it was important. ; )

    I'm dating myself.

    Whether it went over my head or not, just the fact that I mention it... I'm old, aren't I?

    Well, maybe, but... I'm Okay, You're Okay.


    What does it say about me that I got all of those in class examples (aside from the un-named 70s band, though I probably would have known that, too)?


    Tab comes in small cans?
    We just bought a record player to play all those 33's (and 78's!) we couldn't bear to throw out and, you know, they sound really good.
    I spent a lot of time with my grandparents so I tend to *get* references of an older generation. But it freaks me out when my 84 yr old mom includes me in *her* generation.


    I think sometimes students take themselves a little too seriously and are afraid to laugh. I remember being a TA in a graduate class and the prof. made several jokes that had no dated material in them and I was the only one that laughed. The people around me were all looking at each other like, "Is it okay to laugh? Is he making a joke? Will he take us seriously if we giggle?" *sigh*

    On the other hand, I have had run-ins with undergrads that make me feel old. Usually it's music related. As in, "Who was [insert band here]?"

    "Irish diaphragm" *giggle* *snort*

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