Talking bout my Generation
There is a photo in my house that displays my betrothed’s grandmother, mother, daughter and grandson. This might not seem very interesting but it is. I suppose if you insist that something is interesting, you better make it interesting. I have just edited the words that proceed and will confess that it is not the least bit interesting. It is however educational, and we all know through our years of painful schooling, nothing educational ever turns out to be interesting.
Generations have been the focus of many well-written novels that I have never read. Ancestry.com has been disappointing so many people currently wearing kilts, who discover their great, great, not so great, but a little great grandfather was the king of a Zulu tribe.
Me: “While in Africa I played poker with one of the ancient tribe members of their land.”
You ; “Zulus?”
Me: “No, I won!”
Now talking bout my generation, during the 1960s, there was something called the British Invasion that swept North America. Now this was not a military action, nor did it involve gorilla, make that guerella warfare. That would happen a few years later in Vietnam. No this was a musical invasion that would dramatically alter the chart positions of American bands.
It all started on February 9th 1964 when Ed Sullivan introduced four charming lads from Liverpool, whose names I have forgotten, however I do remember they wore matching outfits. After that moment, talent agents scoured the British Isles to replicate that sensation. The Rolling Stones, The Dave Clark Five, Herman’s Hermits, Gerry and the Pacemakers and Freddy and the Dreamers were a few of the lucky musicians, with long hair and long English accents, that would dominate the music scene for the next few years. The shift from pop to counter pop bands occurred rather quickly.
The Who and ultimately Led Zepplin would put the final nail in the cutesy poppy sound coffin, that so many duplications of the original Fab Four were trying to exploit. The Who achieved glory by recording a pseudo anthem for the teenagers of the time with their heavily distorted, bluesy “My Generation”. Like Springsteen’s later generational anthem,“Born to Run”, Pete Townsend was capturing the current angst of the dominate record buying teenage population. “I hope I die before I get old” was the iconic line from the iconic song. Today we all wish that was true as every band from the 1960s continues to play at your local casinos, occasionally using an original member from that band.
Now back to this “educational” photo. The 5 people posing for this are five generations from my wife’s side of the family. All very attractive, photogenic people, which is how you know this is not from my side of the family.
Math is hard, but so is a 5 generational photograph. In order for your family to accomplish this feat, a few things must occur. First: Family members must live a very long life. To be more accurate it is the much older ones who must achieve this goal. Second: Family members from each generation must give birth on a rather regular basis. Third: And this is the tough one, family members must like each other enough to be willing to be in the same room, without killing each other, long enough to smile and say cheese.
If you were ever trapped in an elevator with these five generations, your desire to scale the to that elevator’s roof and do a little Bruce Willis (aka Die Hard) shaft climbing, would be a very strong compulsion. That wasn’t a very nice thing to say, and you would be scolded by the matriarch for your insensitive lack of respect for family. As you realized that nobody was going to help you with your escape plan, you would have to slouch in the corner and listen to the multigenerational perspectives of these five people. This is where it might get educational, but not interesting.
Great Grandma’s recollection of The British Invasion had more to do with Vimy Ridge, than “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.” Grandma’s memory was more Elvis than Sinatra, as cool kept getting redefined. Mom’s memory included Disco shoes. Daughter’s thoughts are much more computer generated and would have thousands of selfies to support her case. The grandchildren would embrace “quality time” with their parents, as the daycares expand the size of their cubbie holes to lodge bigger backpacks.
Each generation would offer different descriptions of “Urgent Communications” for their time.
Great Grandma would use her extensive knowledge of the Morse Code to telegraph here sister to let her know she “liked” a recent photo she received in the mail. That black and white photo was always accompanied by beautifully hand written note.
Grandma would get the operator to connect her with a loved one, to let them know she really “liked” the Christmas fruitcake they had sent. That Christmas fruitcake is still on the top shelf of her freezer in the basement.
Mother would use that same telephone (technology stalled for a generation as engineers worked on better quality colour tvs), without operator assistance to call her sister and let her know she didn’t particularly “like” her comment the previous evening
Daughter stopped buying stamps, as emailing her important information, was a much cheaper way of letting her friends know that she was changing the pattern of the wallpaper in the kitchen. Thousands of people would “like’ this idea through antiquated social media sights like Facebook.
The grandchildren use a cellular version of a phone, but only through Apps, to express every thought they have ever had. I believe Apps is an abbreviation for applications, though today’s generation would not “like” this and support this dislike with some snappy misspelled short form of a word and a morphed picture on SnapChat.
I could go on and on but I won’t as I believe I have officially crossed the bridge from educational to boring. That my friends is a very small bridge to cross.
I will end with something that is neither educational, nor interesting, but I do hope it causes a sense of curiousity. Think of all the people you know, friends, enemies, sugar daddys, in-laws, hitmen, the telemarketer with a deal on duct cleaning, neighbours, people named Frank, or even virtual friends. Thinking of everyone you know and their families, how many of them could create a five-generation photograph? I have asked to so many and sadly none were able to accomplish this task. That unfortunate fact makes this picture absolutely priceless for our family. Sadly, great grandmother passed away not long after this photo was taken. I appreciate that many would not know this, as she was far too ill at the end, to take a selfie to authenticate this fact. That exit of the star of the picture, only transforms this image from interesting to precious and will stay on our mantle. Well not forever as the next generation will put it in bin and store it in their basement as the decluttering of my house to the inevitable transfer of its occupants to the old age home, comes to a close.
The talking bout my generation will slowly end.
Cue the Blong: “Let’s Talk” is the most listened to song on my Soundcloud. If I had titled this “Let’s Listen” I am pretty sure that would not be the case. Talking is easy. Listening is hard. 5 generation photos is damn near impossible.