Old. I am. Officially.
And worse, I am Old and Cranky. A two-fer.
At age 38, I have somehow transformed into that bitter, judgmental old biddy who waves a cane at the damned whippersnappers and laments what happened to the good old days.
The days when we ate lead paint and enjoyed its crunchy burst-in-your-mouth flavor. The time we, at any moment, could be pitched through the windshield like a spiral-cut ham, due to our lack of safety belts and car seats.
I have become this person.
I realized I had become Great-Aunt Gertrude of Fogeyland when I went for Chinese food, and I found myself staring steely-eyed at the teen at the next table.
It was family bonding time there for Teen. An evening out for fried rice and family moments. But was Teen talking about her day? Was Teen passing the lettuce wraps?
Teen was texting.
Twenty minutes, Teen sat at that table in a Cone of Silence, texting.
Then she put it down.
And picked up the portable video game player.
Now, I know the world has moved on from the sepia-toned days I was a kid. I mean, just the fact that poo-brown corduroy split-skirts are no longer a wardrobe staple is a sign of that. (One case, for the better, I admit.)
But if I'd brought even, in Fogey Terms, a book-- that's one of those papery things with words printed on it where you have to turn the pages, in a time of history known as "B.K."-- Before Kindle"--
Anyway, if I'd brought one of those Kindle precursors to read at the dinner table as a kid?...
Man, that thing would have been whipped out of my hand so fast, I would have thought Superman was turning the Earth backwards on its axis again. (1978 Superman: The Movie reference. Non-fogies exempt from understanding this.)
When I was a kid, we had to sit there at the dinner table with the Old Fogeys, be bored to tears, and pretend to like it.
There was no disconnecting from the Mandatory Family Fun. Oh, sure, you still hated it. You'd rather have punctured your brain with a Crazy Straw through the ear. (Fogey Reference #2.) But hating it was a part of growing up, learning to behave, treating others with, dare I say, respect.
So you endured. You found other, more creative ways to entertain yourself. Like tying your straw wrapper into exotic shapes and lobbing them at your siblings. Or strategically planning how much of your vegetables you could smear around your plate to make it look like you'd actually eaten some of them.
But you certainly didn't openly block out your parents with, y'know, fun.
So I've found myself wondering what's going to happen to a generation who's been entertained every second of the day, every day. Kids who have never had the opportunity to be bored out of their well-pierced skulls, in order to be polite to other people.
Will they grow up happy, well-adjusted multi-taskers?
Or develop into those coworkers with the attention span of a fruit-fly on speed? Ones who stand up and shout, "Score!" at the high point of your company presentation because they finally racked up one-bazillion point on Mario Brothers 5000, now with Hologram Mushroom Action?
I don't know. But being a Fogey, I've now exhausted myself with the idea.
Time to go get my shawl and my 400 cats and make sure the LifeAlert machine's turned on, and have a nice nap. Later, I might crank up the Ford (Fogey Reference #3) and see about some more Chinese food.
That fried rice is a nice, easy chew on the dentures.