Communicate across the divideBill's Briefs Thursday, May 12th, 2011
I admit I had little to do with older people until I was 40, when I became friends with a fellow teacher, an ancient 60-year-old. We became fast friends for 20 years. So my topic this issue is about having more communication between the senior and younger generations.
Seniors often think the only excuse to talk to a younger person is to ask them about the Internet. Likewise, younger people think they can learn nothing from the seniors because they are obviously out of date and they sneer at their haircuts, tattoos and studs.
Get over your prejudices. Young people can learn a lot from their elders (I’m not sure I like that word) and by sharing their trials and triumphs the older people can get a young viewpoint of the world of 2011.
Many of the basic life experiences of all young people are similar, but the changes in the social structure of much of the USA in the past 30 years especially the gay world make for fascinating comparisons if one is willing to exchange the information.
With all those years behind us, we seniors have incredible stories of things we’ve done, places we’ve been, adventures we’ve experienced: some happy, some sad, some exciting, some dangerous and even heroic. We’ve survived things younger people today can’t imagine: poverty, disease, war, marriage, to say nothing of what it was like growing up gay 30, 40 or 50 years ago.
Unfortunately impediments to such discussions are vocabulary and social customs, if that is what they are. For example: My name is not Dude. Stop asking me “Do you know what I mean?” every half sentence. Do you really expect me to slap hands or rub fists together with you? We’ve hardly been introduced.
On the other side of the coin, I am amazed how often I sense puzzlement and confusion on a younger person’s face. For example, just this week I used perfectly simple, everyday words like “snood,” “bibbity bobbity boo,” and “Patty, Maxine and Laverne” and got blank stares. My reference to “A little dab’ll do ya” brought wild and unseemly assumptions and a wonderful, politically incorrect story about Kate Smith in a telephone booth elicited not a single laugh.
To top it all off, my reference to “my dungarees” brought a chorus of snickers from people not much younger than myself. I couldn’t believe it. Is this a possible reason why we have trouble communicating?
If such a thing occurs, I hope neither side will run to the Google machine; instead, “fess up” and simply ask what it means. It could open up a line of communication with wonderful stories, information and advice.
Speaking of snickering, I wish to go back to previous articles and say how unkind some people are. My simple typographical error with the name of the San Diego team, the Padres, was unfortunate, but I certainly didn’t deserve the ridicule and comments about my lack of sports knowledge. I assure you my acquaintanceship with balls and bats is extensive. Lastly, I will no longer comment on my story about the old lady and her skirt, even though there are some who say it smelled a bit fishy.
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