Growing up in the 1960s and coming of age in the 1970s, I remember all the “old” people talking about the Generation Gap — how my parents’ generation couldn’t comprehend anything about the values, ideals and life choices of the generation their children were born into.
Mind you, I’m still not sure to which generation I belong. Born in 1962, I have been categorized as a Baby Boomer but also as a member of Generation X. I am pretty sure I qualify as a Boomer: Both of my parents were young children during the Great Depression, and my two sisters were born in the early 1950s. I was accustomed to being around people older than me, as the youngest of the first cousins on both sides of my family, with 20-plus years separating me from the oldest first cousins.
My parents would dance together while we all watched "The Lawrence Welk Show." With only three TV channels to choose from, I watched every episode of "Hee Haw," only because, well, there was nothing else on. My first celebrity crush was Dick van Dyke in the "Dick van Dyke Show." A few years later, my first celebrity role model was Mary Tyler Moore, when she went off on her own and played a TV news producer.
I could go on and on about the people I used to watch on the "Red Skelton Show," "The Jimmy Durante Show," and all the rest. But I won't. Why bother? Today, in my part-time-I-need-spending-money job as a grocery store cashier, I am working with kids born around the time I turned 40. They have no clue who any of those people were.
But that's the way it goes. Conversely, I have no clue about the celebrities, movies, or the myriad of TV/Streaming shows that we now have to choose from today. Frankly, no one could keep up with all of it, which is kind of sad. Gone are the days when millions of people watched the same shows that everyone could talk about around the water cooler – for instance, the finale of "M*A*S*H." Heck, these kids probably never appreciated the subtle, droll humor of "Seinfeld," finale episode aside. (I mean, really. It WAS a show about nothing; the finale pretty much proved that.)
One 17-year-old who works as a bagger came in today wearing huge plastic sunglasses because she had just been to the eye doctor and her eyes were dilated. I called her Ray, but she had no clue I meant Ray Charles. (To her benefit, however, she did know the reference when someone called her Stevie Wonder. Thank God. Of couse, she would probably have no idea he was "Little" Stevie Wonder in the really old days.)
So, it need not be surprising that when two of my young colleagues were discussing "BEASTARS" that I stood there with a glazed look. Wha? One mentioned "Demon Slayer," and in my mind I conflated it with "Dragon's Lair," the first animated arcade game that had numerous story lines, depending on how well you played. (It doesn't really matter, though. There weren't enough quarters in the universe that could have enabled me to master that one.)
It's inevitable. They grew up in an era in which the Internet and iPhones have always existed. I remember when "streaming video" seemed an impossible goal, but today, of course, it's everywhere. I mean, for God's sake, we can actually watch it ON OUR PHONES, which also serve as cameras, calculaters and, well, basically computers you can hold in your hand.
My first home computer was a Commodore Select Edition HD40 – a model I still have today, but yet no one else remembers. I mean, seriously, how could you not recall a desktop contraption that boasted 192 kb of RAM and a 40 MB hard drive? Seriously, it was cool because you could use BOTH a 5.25-inch floppy disk and that newfangled 3.5-inch floppy disk!
What's a floppy disk? Well, nevermind.
It's weird as I find myself as an obvious member of "the Older Generation." That used to be me, and I liked it that way. But, I'm learning to go with the flow. Despite the gap, we have a good time at work. I make fun of them about the old stuff they don't know (and probably don't care to know) and roll my eyes; they make fun of me about the new stuff I don't know (and for sure don't care to know) and roll their eyes.
So, everything, I guess, is totally as it should be. It would surely be a lonely place if not for the customers who come through my line who actually "get" my jokes.