I’d like to put in a good word for the baby boomers. Not too big of a surprise of course, boomers like to put in good words for themselves. It’s part of our gestalt. Over the years, I’ve spoken to many audiences about appreciating the benefits of multi-generational dynamics and let me tell you, we’re not getting a whole lot of love out there. We aren’t retiring soon enough, we love to work in teams as long as we’re the captains, we can talk a problem to death and never make a damn decision in the name of building consensus. We also have unrealistic expectations of the generations that succeed us – what is ‘work/life balance’ and why do you consider it a priority before you spend years as out of whack as we were? We like to meet; you like to IM, text and abbreviate all that we enjoy sharing for hours on end. Sigh…it’s not easy being a boomer these days.
Lest you roll your eyes and decry my gross attempt to defend the virtues of my generation, let me mention some of our significant contributions. It is humbling without question.
If it wasn’t for us, there’d be no Deepak Chopra. Would Barnes and Noble be able to devote shelf upon shelf to self-help books? Would ‘self-help’ even be a topic for discussion? We believe in bettering ourselves you see, and we are prepared to spend a pretty penny in the process. With each decade that passes we create new markets – that’s impressive. In fact, we were the first generation that was directly targeted by mass-marketers. Wail til you see what enhancements are made to ‘hoverarounds’ now that some of us are getting up there.
We believed that Spandex was a privilege, not a birthright. I don’t think we are to blame for its popularity. Not to say that we didn’t have our sartorial blunders – construction boots and overalls hardly rose to the definition of a ‘Glamour-Do’. We did however like to match our knee socks and sweaters (and wear Bass weejuns – a cute look), wear colored tights with adorable Mia Farrow-like smock dresses and introduced bell bottoms (now referred to as wide leg pants). We collected I.D. bracelets from our pubescent boyfriends – reinforcing the belief that jewelry is always a lovely expression of affection and accessories make an outfit.
We gave you Barbie and Ken in all their iterations. Soon to come of course is Barbie and Ken in the assisted living facility, with their aide Skipper. What can I say? We continue to break new ground.
I think it reflects way too much hubris to take credit for Michael Bolton, so I’ll move on.
Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, The Beatles, Lou Reed, The Doors – I could continue but you see the inestimable talent of the generation. I concede that Iron Butterfly’s lyrics left much to be desired. We also pioneered writing journals and love poems in all lower case and chanted how war wasn’t healthy for children and other living things. And if you think that ‘multi-tasking’ is a new phenomenon, may I just say that I could listen to music, do my homework (allegedly), obsess over love gone wrong and talk on the phone with my friend JoAnn for hours. All of this without sustaining permanent neck damage or seriously compromising my matriculation.
Certainly these examples are but a small sampling of our accomplishments….I offer this to you as a heartfelt testament to the boomers and the love we desperately seek. Fret not my fellow mid-lifers, we are totally cool – if only in our own minds.