The Bare Bodkin

The Way We Were

I am not by nature, I think, a grumpy old man.  But, at the age of 60, I feel entitled to comment on some inescapable facts about the younger generation.  If my judgments seem harsh, I can only invite the reader to try to refute them, if he can.  Or if she can.  (Equality requires every he to be accompanied by a she.)

Yes, I know the automatic response: “Every generation thinks the one that comes after it is degenerate,” followed by a quotation from Socrates, Cicero, or Hypotenuse to the effect that the kids of his (or her) day are a bad lot.  From this we are to infer that this ancient complaint has always been overwrought.  Never mind that the complainers’ societies usually did perish soon after these dire warnings.  Often enough, the grumpy old men (or women, as the case may be) turn out to be prophetic.

Look around, reader.  In this computer age, how many of today’s youth could, if necessary, change a typewriter ribbon?  In this age of the compact disc, how many could change a phonograph needle?  How many could open or close a car window by cranking it manually?  How many could get up, walk across the room, and change the television channel by turning a knob—or, if the knob fell off, by using pliers?

How many of these pampered epicures know what it is to wash dishes by hand?  To get ice cubes out of...

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