Thursday, April 9, 2015
John Cullum and his wife, Emily Frankel, talk about the days when Emily supported them with earnings from touring with her dance company.
They didn't have money for anything, except essentials -- chuck steak, and rice dinners, and rent. Even so, when their landlord raised the rent, John found a way to buy their building.
Monday, April 6, 2015
Some time ago, when I was part of the younger generation, I didn't say anything when my mother started disappearing. Occasionally Mom did some of the things that women do to maintain a more youthful look, but she didn't seem to want to bother staying in touch with the real world, which was my world.
She'd never been much of a newspaper reader. Her Time and Newsweek magazines piled up, unread. She didn't know the names of the newest latest appliances, cars, movie stars, or sports heroes. She referred to the latest music, especially hits with a Rock and Roll beat, as noise.
In the last years of her life, she didn't answer the phone, or bother with the People Magazine I bought her, or that "Easy Do" embroidery kit I got for her -- that stuff just sat on the table by her bed as I tried to make conversation with her while her TV played on and on.
The way Mom tuned out was sad, bad, wrong -- something to notice and warn your own children and friends about.
You need to listen and pay attention to the younger generation's music; grab onto their slang without cringing at silly phrases, or texting. You don't have to do it or use it -- just hear and feel where they're heading, and pay close attention to things like the latest style outfits. Styles just ebb and flow -- return like waves from a thousand miles, a thousand days ago.
The fact is, I see myself disappearing like Mom did. I find myself turning off things that seem at first ridiculous -- later, ludicrous -- later nonsensical, stupid, repulsive. I pretend I'm laughing at ridiculous vulgarnesses, but actually I'm sneering.
Nowadays visiting Mars is a possibility -- not something I dream about, but most kids are thrilled by the idea. And all that tech stuff -- the pods, pads, phones, photos -- insta everything that kids do, along with other ridiculous things that inspire outrageous behavior -- that's what you'd be dealing with if you came back for a visit after your life was over.
So think "this is awful" privately. Don't burden the kids, their parents, or even their grandparents with your older generational eeks, icks, yikes. Feel what you feel. but express it very carefully, when you're chatting with a stranger, or expressing yourself in an email, tweet, or on Facebook
Instead of disapproving, find beauty in what's awkward or ugly. Try on the younger generation's "wrong" clothes, their "wrong" ideas, and see yourself becoming freer, nicer, more interesting. You don't have to go to their get-togethers, but let yourself imagine yourself in the midst of some of that nightmarish, congested partying when they do the NaeNae Dance and Twerking.
Guys, even if you're just sort of slowly, quietly disappearing, it's hurrying you to the end of your life, a time when you have no choices.
Just pretend it's a fun party -- wriggle a little, and join in.