Generation L Letter from the Publisher

By J. Reichard

I am fortunate to have a great friend here in the Hub City who keeps me supplied with lots of interesting things to ponder and pithy email forwards that are quite often founts of knowledge. I keep them and often chuckle about their content while I ponder life s mysteries.

I have been pondering the age as a state of mind quandary for quite a long time now, and as long as you can keep a smile and regard many -- or perhaps most things -- with ultimate cynicism, you can usually get by in our all too serious world.

I am committedly working toward hanging onto life as I approach a big milestone this year. This year -- if I make the milestone  -- I will have enjoyed more of life s rich pageantry than my wonderful father did due to heart disease and the nature of medicine in 1960. I was a child when he passed away, but to this day, I remember his wit and witticism, not to mention his cynicism. No matter what life dealt him, the man always had a huge smile and a great twinkle in his eye.

Therefore, this is kind of a hugely cynical monograph dedicated to him on how social mores have evolved in time, his and mine. In addition, before I forget, thanks up front to my friend and correspondent for many of the snippets of thought I used throughout. Additional kudos go to the author of several of the great song titles used herein.

When we choose to look back on life, it is amazing to think that when we were kids, we rode in cars without the benefit of seat belts, urban-assault-grade child safety seats, or airbags, and we survived. The cribs our parents had for us possibly were lacquered in lead-based paint, as were the walls in many of our own living rooms perhaps. We could leave home in the morning during the summer when we were kids, and play all day long, provided we were home when the streetlights came on. Moreover, no one could reach us all day either, because the concept of cell phones and personal pagers had not even been conceived yet, not to mention the new wrist-worn satellite tracking devices and spycams.

We ate heaping portions of bread and real butter, cake, candy, and soda and most of us were never overweight because we ran like dragoons all day long. We certainly did not have the benefit [or tragedy] of Nintendo®, PlayStation®, X-Boxes, or VHS, DVD, CD, MP3 or even PCs.

We always had many friends, and we could go out and always find them, because their moms made them go out and run too.

We used to ride our bikes or walk to our friends houses and ring their doorbell or even just walk in and talk to them and their parents. And, all of this without the benefit of a guardian-on-our-shoulders. Imagine us all alone in the cold cruel world! We did not have our parents dashing off to litigate the minute we were wronged in some insignificant way, either.

We made up games involving sword fighting with sticks. No, there was no laser tag nor ready-made Chinese-made plastic battle kits from the local toy megastore that cost $40 either. Contrary to all the warnings we received, most kids never put out their eyes with sticks.

Kids sports teams had tryouts to make the team and not everyone made it. You learned to deal with the disappointment without your parents and their lawyers becoming involved. Some kids were not as academically prone to succeed and failed a course or were held back to repeat a year. Not everyone got an A just for showing up, and test curves were never altered for any reason. We also had to learn that some capital letters in our alphabet actually represented numbers in the Romans numeric system.

Our individual actions were always regarded as our own and there was never anyone behind which to hide. The idea of bailing us out of jail if we ever broke the law was unheard of. Our parents were always on the side of the law.

We drank water out of our friends and our garden hoses without repercussion. The idea of designer bottled water for a buck had not made it to the norm quite yet, no matter how  badly the city water tasted.

Our generation has produced some of the very best risk-takers and problem solvers, not to mention inventors, astronauts, scientists, and physicians the world has ever known. Maybe by now, you are getting the drift of Generation L. That s my own tag for my generation. If you missed it thus far, the letter L represents 50 in Roman numerals. Sadly, kids coming along now may not even be able to decipher the date on Lady Liberty s tablet in the crook of her arm as she stands silently in New York s harbor.

According to most excellent friend who is a happily-retired career school teacher, Roman numerals are not taught much in schools anymore. Congratulations if you are one of us Gener-Ls We have arrived!  I often tell my sons that I am proud of my graying hair, as I have earned every one of them.

So then, since this is a paper primarily about entertainment, I wish to submit a recommendation for a new music collection that may very well appeal to all of us in the L set.

The collection, especially for us L-models should necessarily include the following: Peter Noone and Herman s Hermits Mrs. Brown You ve Got a Lovely Walker, or Mick and the Stones singing their You Can t Always Pee When You Want. How about Bad Prune Rising or I Heard It Through My Grape Nuts by Credence Clearwater Revival and the late Marvin Gaye, respectively? To this fine collection, we also could add The Brothers Gibb s immortal classic, How Can You Mend a Broken Hip or ABBA s disco favorite, Denture Queen, also Peter Frampton s slinky rendition of Do You Ache Like We Do?

Given that so many in the L generation have been taught to ask our doctors about every pharmaceutical under the sun, The Who s retread of Talking Bout My Medication would be an instant rocket to the top of the charts on classic rock stations. Certain also to become Gener-L classics would be Johnny Nash s I Can t See Clearly Now and The Troggs Bile Thing. Add to this already fabulous heavy hitter collection, the Carly Simon remake of You re So [Varicose] Vein, The Temptations awesome soul influence in Papa s Got A Kidney Stone, and Leo Sayer s You Make Me Feel Like Napping.

My personal favorites and sure-to-be runaway hits are Procol Harum s A Whiter Shade of Gray, and last but not least, The Beatles fine rework by Ringo. We hope it doesn t get to it this year, but if it does, I m sure I ll be loudly singing the mantra, I Get By With A Little Help From Depends®.

©2003 HubStuff. All rights reserved.

Reprinted with permission.