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Tumbling into the Generation Gap

February 16th, 2018 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Pulling into Modesto around 8 p.m., looking for a place to have a beer and maybe a salad.

We found a brew pub named “Commonwealth”, which apparently is quite popular in this Central Valley outpost, because nearly every stool was taken at its long/seat-yourself tables.

We spotted facing open spots near the bar, and asked a woman sitting next to the open places, maybe 24 years of age: “Do you mind if we sit here?”

And she said: “Not at all, if you don’t mind vulgarity!”

A confession. I often am a fan of blue comedy.

Maybe it is the shock value. I can remember being 15 and a kid on the bus to school was known for his skillful telling of obscene jokes. (One of the most accomplished I ever encountered at telling blue jokes was Tommy Lasorda. Great timing; skilled delivery.)

So, back to the brew pub. I was facing the woman who warned of vulgarity and I said: “We love ‘Veep’; so we are used to about anything!”

The woman asked, “What is that name again?”

I spelled it. She spelled it back.

She said: “Is it on Netflix?”

Veep is an HBO series about Washington politics, a hard, cynical, PC-ignoring show which leads us to believe that a foul mouth is required to aspire elective office. Right up to the Oval Office.

But the vulgar woman in the bar clearly had not heard of it.

I said: “Julia-Louis Dreyfus is in it!” And the vulgar woman gave me a blank look. And not just because it was noisy in the bar.

She clearly had never heard of Dreyfus. The name meant nothing to her.

I was about to add, “You know, from ‘Seinfeld‘?!?”

But I stopped before I further embarrassed myself.

This woman had to be in the first half of her 20s. Which means she was 3 or 4 years old when Seinfeld went off the air, in 1998. Which is so 20th century.

Why should I expect her to know about Dreyfus or Seinfeld? That would be like asking me if I know who is hot in Trip Hop. (Or who led the Jimmy Dorsey band.)

I just asked someone in the room to give me the name of a music genre I know nothing about. Trip Hop was the winner. And no, never heard of it.)

Turns out, yes, the woman sitting next to us was vulgar. Not “Veep” vulgar, mind, which also requires a heavy dose of humor. But more vulgar than someone would be in public.

Mostly, what out little interaction in the brew pub was about was how the generations lose much of the ability to talk about something that is not Right This Minute.

Maybe, 20 years hence, the vulgar woman will tell some college kid: “You know, Modern Family? With Ed O’Neill and Sophia Vergara?”

And the vulgar woman, who two decades into the future will be pushing 50, will be met with a quizzical look from a college kid … give a nod at the power of the generation gap, and move on.




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