Marooned Baby Boomer on the Internet Highway
By Anthony Buccino
Last July, somebody named Omar posted, “You’ll thank me for this when you get older.”
He then added, “No, Mom, my therapist thanks you!”
Cruising the information superhighway, I stumbled through the simplest of America On-Line services and wandered side streets, main roads and the central business district.
It reminded me of riding around as teenagers did in the 1970s, before oil embargoes, when gas was less than a quarter a gallon.
Did someone say the 70s were 20 years ago? Nah. Couldn’t be.
From the comfort of my keyboard, and a yellow Labrador retriever nibbling at my socks, I motored past the Genealogy Club. I’ve already down-loaded the names of Christopher Columbus’ crew. Ditto the Mayflower, the ship not the madam. I checked out hundreds of other subscribers from Belleville, Nutley and Bloomfield seeking some familiar names.
I slowed at the Chat Room names. Neither the crowds nor real-time discussions of just about everything useful and perverse piqued my interest. Besides, they were almost all full anyway.
I chugged along aimlessly for a while. School reports were over, so no need right now for Compton’s on-line.
The on-line encyclopedia had helped us learn about electromagnetic radiation and electromagnetic spectrum. Yes, father and daughter did well on that report.
I had an hour or so to kill and no new chapter to write. I steered my 40-something mind to the Baby Boomer arena.
When I got there, it told me the last time I visited. That’s more than some people do.
Baby Boomers are folks born after World War II and through the early 1960s. They are former long-haired flower children and hippie-wannabes of the 1960s.
They listened to music on black disks and the pictures were in their minds.
If you see a gray-haired guy with a pony tail, there’s a real good chance he is a Baby Boomer.
They are also called the sandwich generation, the group raising children and dealing with older parents who need their attention, also.
But the thing that strikes awe in Baby Boomers is when we say things to our kids that our parents said to us. In Baby Boomers, the message board on America On-Line, in “Where Are They Now” is “Lies My Parents Told Me.” Here other Baby Boomers bare their souls.
Last July, somebody named Omar posted, “You’ll thank me for this when you get older.” He then added, “No, Mom, my therapist thanks you!” We hope you feel better now, Omar.
Christi and others discussed the tale about what happens when you swallow your chewing gum it twists around your intestines, etc.; if you swallow a watermelon seed, a vine will grow in your belly.
Someone else posted, “If you put your ear to the ground during a storm, you could hear the devil beating his wife.” What neighborhood did he grow up in?
“Can’t get up because I have a bone in my leg,” said Sislean’s grandma when she asked her to get up from a comfortable chair. “Drinking coffee will make your nose turn black” is another posting. Sislean confessed, “I tell these same ‘lies’ to my children today. They work and I never feel guilty.”
A striking thing about this bulletin board is the number of similar sayings and reflections. A lot of these folks discussed things that happened in Catholic school.
And having been among that generation, I know that none of this is made up. But the point is, these folks posting in Baby Boomers and Catholic School, these survivors remember all this stuff like it happened yesterday.
Childhood is supposed to be a happy, carefree time. Or was that a lie our parents let us believe?
Perhaps that is why my generation, now that it has awakened to parenthood, and has realized this is life and not a dress rehearsal, as my pal Lionel on the radio says, surfs into cyberspace to jettison this cosmic angst on that dead end street called Memory Lane.
Then, calmly signs-off this almost-free therapy session and returns to being work-a-day Johnny and Suzy, and Mommy and Daddy.
Or maybe we do it because it is a pleasant diversion to retirement planning, stock portfolios, life insurance, car payments, tax increases and real life.
Me, I stopped in because the dog was sleeping on my toes: I have sat-ten and I can’t get up! And because I need all the help I can get. Maybe there’s a clue in here. Maybe not. It’s worth a look.
And anyway, my daughter says if I mess up her childhood now, or embarrass her in front of her friends, by acknowledging that I know her, or ever sing when her friends are in the car, then when I get old, she will dress me in funny looking polyester clothes and leave me in a rocking chair on the front porch, much to the amusement of passers-by in the year 2025.
First published July 20, 1995, by Worrall Community Newspapers.
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New Jersey author Anthony Buccino's stories of the 1960s, transit coverage and other writings earned four Society of Professional Journalists Excellence in Journalism awards.
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