The last several columns I’ve read from you have been about old people. May I ask why, with all of the other things happening out there, you’re always stuck on someone’s grandma and grandpa?
Can you write about something fresh and new instead of always telling us about people who are old? Not being critical. Just giving you something to think about.
Thanks for the words. Before I say anything else, let me also thank you for taking the time to sit down, look up my email address, and send a message to a complete stranger who lives 2351.4 miles away, expressing your dissatisfaction with writing that, bear in mind, ain’t exactly Whitman.
But I will make no excuses. You’re absolutely right about me writing too many old-person columns.
Which is why I want to apologize. You should not be subjected to columns about elderly persons since these people are, as the term implies, not 39-year-olds.
And hey, maybe by not talking about old people you won’t ever have to become one. If you avoid the topic long enough, perhaps someday your hair won’t fall out and your body won’t begin making vaporous noises of its own volition whenever you’re tying your shoes.
Believe me, I get it. Lots of younger people don’t want to hear about the elderly. The young are busy being young, making mistakes, learning valuable lessons, improving the world. That’s what you’re supposed to do, and it’s wonderful.
So keep reinventing things, blazing new paths, breaking old traditions, and making your own rules. And above all, keep believing that yours is the first generation to ever do these things. Because you’re adorable.
Besides, you’re absolutely correct. Everyone could do with a little youthfulness. Which is why after reading your email I took your advice. I looked up a few articles on popular youngish news sites to see what young people are reading nowadays.
The following are real headlines I found:
“22 Celebrities that Look Nothing Alike.”
“What Type of Fall Sweater Are You?”
“10 Signs Your Cat is a Wizard.”
“19 Potatoes That Look Like John Travolta.”
All I can say is, this gave me a brand new perspective on America’s future.
I suppose the good news is, not once did these youthful articles mention a single person who was over age 70. Although keep in mind, John Travolta probably isn’t buying green bananas anymore.
I do want to say one thing, however. Something that worries me about this new youth centric culture is that our elders are largely forgotten in today’s world. And this seems wrong.
Think about it. When was the last time you saw an 80-year-old on a TV show or blockbuster movie? How many elderly people do you see depicted in televised ads not related to buying gold?
Have you ever seen a geriatric person on, say, a Gatorade commercial?
No, big-time video crews are experts at ignoring the 42.9 million elderly persons in the U.S. Unless, of course, it’s a televised ad featuring a medication or health supplement. In which case all TV-old-people are filmed doing impossibly dangerous stunts like hang gliding, sailing, rock climbing, marathoning, or eating past 3:30 P.M.
The only problem is, this is not an accurate portrayal of the golden years. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying 80-year-olds can’t go hang gliding. I’m just saying their bodies are rarely found.
But getting back to your letter. Personally, I don’t want to forget old people. I love the elderly. Not writing about my elders would be ignoring all the cool people who built this world.
Do you realize how incredible the former generations are? These people survived hell. Many of your own elders are old enough to recall Depression-era breadlines. Even more remember shipping sons off to fight world wars, or sending daughters to shipyards to take up stick-welding.
Your ancestors were factory workers, steelworkers, laborers, and farmers. Once upon a time, 30 percent of the U.S. was involved in farming (today it’s less than 2 percent). How do you forget people like this? And why would anyone want to?
These American forbears suffered the worst of history, and they took it on the chin. And yet these generations somehow outclassed their own grief and managed to give us heroes like, Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr., and Bob Newhart.
What have younger generations given us? Reality TV.
So I could give you more reasons why I love the elderly, but I won’t. I could also explain the invaluable lessons I have learned from older people, but something tells me you don’t want to hear them.
Therefore I won’t say anything else except to deliver the words of an 82-year-old retired high-school teacher from Wisconsin who emailed me recently.
The old teacher said: “You know what true fear is? Waking up to realize your former students are running the world.”
Just giving you something to think about.