A Terrifying Thought

As I was dropping off Athena at her school, which due to the small-town nature of where I live, houses all the schoolkids in the town from Kindergarten through high school, it occurred to me that the kids who are graduating this year, class of ’05, were mostly born the same year I graduated from high school — 1987.

And I realized, to my horror, not that I’ve been getting old — thanks to my hairline, I’ve been aware of that for a while, thank you very much — but that there’s now an entire generation of Americans for whom U2’s Joshua Tree has the same historical distance as I had with Abbey Road. And who don’t know a world before ALF. The first of these is kind of interesting; the second, horrifying. Clearly we need to build a time-traveling robot to go back in time and kill ALF. For the sake of the children.

25 Comments on “A Terrifying Thought”

  1. As I’m fairly sure the guy with his hand up ALF’s backside goes on to create Cyberdyne Systems, I don’t see any ethical dilemma with your suggestion. Theoretical ones, however…

  2. I really wish you hadn’t posted this. I’m around your age (class of 87), and it had never occurred to me. Damn you for making me feel older than I already did.

  3. Do you know about Beloit College’s Mindset List ( http://www.beloit.edu/%7Epubaff/mindset/03index.html ) ? The idea is to remind college profs that this year’s college freshmen were born in 1986, and you can’t casually drop a reference to the Shah of Iran or to Brezhnev or a Datsun and expect nods of recognition. Much of the list is dopey, but it’s interesting to think that for college freshmen—not kids, but college freshmen—Pete Rose has always been a disgraced former ballplayer. And that Yuppies are like hippies (or flappers). And that Born in the USA is on oldies stations. The Berlin Wall is in the same category as the Great Wall of China: Before You Was Born.

    It’s not so much that I’m old, it’s that young people are so young…


  4. Hey, look at the bright side: Those of us still in school, but who’ve taken a year or so off and were in the 5 year plan to begin with, now feel a bit younger in comparison :-)

    (See also: Class of 2003 Beloit College Mindset list; note that my actual projected graduation date is this coming Spring, so everyone in my classes is younger than I, sometimes by as many as five years; I feel ancient, sometimes, but this entry makes it all better)

  5. What really will freak you is when you see the kids of your classmates graduating. I’m sure there are some that started families right out of high school (or maybe before they were out of high school).

  6. There will be no slams against ALF otherwise I will be forced to join the Right Wingers and vow to never buy your books until you promise to never utter a statement that I disagree with ever again.

  7. Is this where, as a college freshmen, I’m supposed to poke fun at you old guys while wearing a cheeky grin?

    Consider it done. =P

  8. I hadn’t realized we were the same age, John. Though come to think of it I don’t know whether I thought of you as younger or older than me… just not the same. :-)

    I personally felt The Joshua Tree had a lot more historical distance when it came out than did Abbey Road at the same time… but then, I’ve never found U2 more than distantly interesting. Maybe if their guitarist had ever developed a second riff… but that was about as likely as Michael Stipe turning into a good vocalist.

    ALF? What’s that? Oh, must be a sitcom. I think the last sitcom I enjoyed was M*A*S*H (inasmuch as Sports Night was not truly a sitcom).

  9. My USENET .sig for a while was:

    Of course I feel old. The videos I used to watch on MTV (back when they still showed videos) moved to VH1, and now they’re on “VH1 Classic”.

    It doesn’t help any that I work near a university campus (technically on it, but my building is so far off that they had to extend the campus map when we became part of it), so the current crop of freshmen (see the 2007 mindset list, since they haven’t posted 2008’s yet) are scarily young.

    “Bert and Ernie are old enough to be their parents.”

    “The Statue of Liberty has always had a gleaming torch.” I was already out of high school that summer.


  10. My husband (Class O’86), who teaches 9th graders this year, has always tripped out on the year his students were born.

    This year he got to tell them that he’d been with (dating or married to) his wife since before they were born. Man, we felt old on that one.

  11. I had a similar moment last night. At a screening of “Fast Times At Ridgemont High,” director Amy Heckerling asked the audience how many hadn’t been born when the film was made. Hands shot up all over the theater. Oh…old.

  12. Our oldest daughter is graduating this year and I graduated in 1984. My TWENTY year reunion is in November. I still feel weird that I don’t have to sit at the kid’s table at Thanksgiving dinner and wondering how I ever qualify to be “a responsible parent.” Yet here I am staring at sending my daughter to college. How did this happen???

  13. What made me first feel old, back at the tender age of 22, was when my friend Kari was dating a wee tyke of 18 who HAD NEVER SEEN STAR WARS.

    Now I’m older, and I weep for all those children who think that Hayden Christensen always showed up at the end of Jedi. (That’s if those rumours I keep hearing about the re-re-release are true. *shudder*)

  14. Class of ’85 here. I’m feeling old, sure, but you know, some things never seem to change – U2 are still among the best bands in the world, Amy Heckerling is still cute, and Alf’s nose still looks like a dick.

  15. Not to cast too much doubt on these. Me being one of the class of 2005 (with luck and carving wood), I read though the 2005 mindset list (http://www.beloit.edu/%7Epubaff/mindset/2005.html). Only one them produced a feeling of truth in my gut:

    “There has always been Diet Coke.”

    All the others didn’t to a greater or lesser extent (apart from the purely factual ones which produced no emotional response).


  16. “Back to the Future” was being played a lot on TNT a month or two ago.

    I had a thought that boggled me: We’re already two-thirds of the distance from “Back to the Future” as Marty McFly, in “Back to the Future,” was to the era he traveled to.

    What I mean is this: BTTF was made in 1985, and set in 1955. The characters travelled back in time 30 years. It’s now 2004, almost 20 years since BTTF was made.

    The recent wave of 80s nostalgia baffles me. I could connect with 70s nostalgia, I was a teen-ager in the 70s, and teen-agers are very connected with the pop culture of the period–pop culture is oxygen, water and food to them. I was in my 20s in the 80s, I worked 16-hour days at a daily newspaper in a rural community. I didn’t have time for pop culture.

    Likewise: 90s nostalgia? Huh? Weren’t the 90s, like, 10 minutes ago?

  17. Class of ’73 here. I remember when 50 (I’ll be there next month) was an age where I would be old & decrepit. I still feel like I’m pretending to be my mom when I cook the extended family Thanksgiving meal.

    I remember reading the novel “1984” in my late 20’s, so I would at least have the futuristic novel read before the events were supposed to occur.

    I remember when my company employed the first person who was born after my 1975 employment date. Now at least a quarter of my fellow employees have lived their entire life since I’ve been here.

    I work part-time at a bar, checking ID’s at the front door. We have to check all ID’s (you know, the “I’d even card my own mother” thing). It bugs me when I am told, “What? I’m older than dirt!”, then check the ID & they’re 20 years younger than me. How old does that make ME??

    In reality, I LOVE being the age I am…no matter what it is. “Don’t complain about growing older, some are not that fortunate”.

  18. Class of ’87 here as well. And I feel old. The first-year associates at my firm — law school graduates, fer Pete’s sake — seem impossibly young. Well, wait until I break them. When they bring me research, they think cases decided in 1994 and 1995 are too old and might not be good law any more. Damnit, I was practicing in 1994 and 1995! They’re plenty good, dagnabit!

  19. Overheard by a teacher friend of mine in the cafeteria some years ago:

    “Did you know, Paul McCartney was in a band BEFORE Wings?”

    I’ve felt old ever since.

    To top that, I was telling that story to some friends recently at which point a young woman at the table said “He’s the guy that was married to that vegetarian woman, right?”


  20. Syliva, that joke has evolved over time.

    Version 1: “I felt old when I heard a kid say, ‘Did you know Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings?'”

    Version 2: “Did you know Paul McCartney was in a band?”

    Version 3: “Paul who?”

  21. Well, version one was told to me and could well have been taken to that.

    However, the second conversation took place in a pub called the Sussex recently and is sadly true…


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