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A late bloomer boomer

Our grandfathers recited endless clichés, claiming that they had much harder lives growing up than we did (“We walked three miles in the snow to school,” bla, bla, bla).

We baby boomers can’t make such a claim to our grandkids. Get real: our lives were a piece of cake compared to the millenniums. We flew through our homework, rarely encountered any kind of bullying — and, though we survived some chaotic history in the 1960s, I recall no school shootings.

Oh, kids, don’t let me commence.

Okay, ‘tis time to jump off the soapbox and lighten up. My trials rest not in the past but rage on in the now. As a throwback to a simpler time, I have suddenly found myself in a world of insufferable complications. How do the millenniums do it?

As I ride the subways, I observe billboard ads that contain such ambiguities that I haven’t a clue as to the message. And it doesn’t help that the font’s so tiny that most old codgers like moi need a magnifying glass.

When I drop in to see a movie, those ads also baffle me. I’m talking about the coming attractions of today. Images flash like corn popping, at such a jet-speed pace that I am left struggling with several questions, including: What the hell is the name of this upcoming flick, who the hell’s in it and what on earth is it about? 

As I stroll the streets of Manhattan, I’m bewitched, bothered, bewildered and delayed by all the sidewalk “scholars.” Half of the Big Apple residents look like they’re on drugs as they saunter down the streets reading their stupid smart phones. And that’s not just the millenniums. My own precious peer group cronies stare at their phones trancelike, many taking a tumble as they lose their balance. No wonder the Chinese call smart phones “digital heroin.”

My frustrations with millennial protocols extend to gathering materials for my writing profession. I recently asked a young employee at a stationary store to show me where the typing paper could be found. A blank expression filled his face: “We don’t have anything like that these days,” he said.

“You’re mistaken,” I told him. “I bought it last month. Someone’s moved it.”

We checked with several other millenniums meandering about the store. None had ever heard of typing paper. When I finally spotted it on my own, I called the clerk over and showed him.

“That’s not typing paper,” he said. “I’ve never actually used one, but I’ve seen pictures of a typewriter. Didn’t typing paper come all rolled up?”

“Oh, now I see,” I said. “Well, strip my gears and call me shiftless, nowadays it’s labeled multi-purpose printing paper. Duh.”

Each of the young’uns stared at the old geezer as if I were a ghost. As I noted their bugging eyes, I swept away into the afternoon with my so-called printing paper, wishing I had been wearing a cape to make my departure more dramatic.

It’s not their fault, ya know. When oh when will I become new-fashioned? I’m beyond being simply a late bloomer. Heavens to Betsy, I’m just now getting around to sporting hippy hair. Fifty years after my peers did it. When I wear my hair over my ears, millenniums have mistaken me for everything from a Carnegie Hall conductor, to a has-been rock star to a hobo.

I never used recreational drugs but, after periodically spending three hours on my land  phone with my health insurance people, I can assure you I desperately crave whatever drugs they’ll finally approve. And then some.

Presently, I have to perform a mental arm-wrestling feat just to get my anxiety meds refilled. Why oh why oh why-oh? It’s not a narcotic. Well it isn’t. It isn’t. And I’m not a neurotic. Well I’m not. I’m not. I’m not.

Today’s insurance agents request everything from my social security number, to the name of my first goldfish to the date of my mother-in-law’s hysterectomy.

All this to refill an anxiety medication. What will happen when I need Viagra? Ah, don’t laugh. I may be a late-blooming boomer, but I’m also a steaming hot sexual being. A hippy-come-lately with blazing loins. Dagnabbit, I’m still trying to find myself.

Oh, kids, don’t let me commence.

— Steve Eskew

Retired businessman Steve Eskew received master’s degrees in dramatic arts and communication studies from the University of Nebraska at Omaha after he turned 50. After one of his professors asked him to write a theater column, he began a career as a journalist at The Daily Nonpareil in Council Bluffs, Iowa. This led to hundreds of publications in a number of newspapers, most of which appear on his website, eskewtotherescue.com.

Reflections of Erma