Baby Boomers '52

Born a third the way into the 18-year Boom

we 1952-ers travel just ahead of the crest of the wave . . .

. . . we're the froth.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Did you? Or didn't you?

So here's how I see it. Those of us born in 1952 ride the upswing of the 18-year wave of post­war babies destined to change everything.

We embrace that destiny. We've held the spotlight pretty much since the beginning of time -- circa 1946 -- we're good at it. This means, in the Boomer World, that we think we're the most fascinating going. Our offspring and their offspring are clever, and we have photos, but accept it, they're still covering our music.

Yet, even though we still tap our feet to the same oldies, there is a divide between us: Those of us who Did and those of us who Didn't.

Those of us who smoked (cigarettes). And those of us who didn't. Those of us who quit and those of us who still miss it.

Those of us who smoked (and inhaled). Those of us who voted for Nixon.

Those of us who swallowed, snorted and shot up and those of us who had personal levels of Didn't on each of those verbs. And held to them mostly.

Those of us who learned three chords and rocked and rolled. Those of us who learned the fourth minor key and stuck with folk and thought we were cooler.

Those who went to Vietnam. Those who protested. Those who did neither.

Those who went to Woodstock. Those who still wouldn't. Those who wish they had.

So it's not just Did or Didn't -- it's timing as well. Maybe that's what Einstein meant. So does it matter when we went all the way? High school? College?

Did you or a girlfriend have an abortion before it was legal? Ah, that is more than a timing question. Its phrasing determines which Boomers will not broach this topic with me.

It is odd. I have dear friends on both sides of this crux. We did and we didn't. We know it and remain friends. How do we do that?

As a nation we fall about evenly on opposite sides judging from elections, pollsters and the Supreme Court's dabbling in both. We all shrug, one outcome or the other. How do we do that?

We did it with Vietnam. How did we do that? Do you remember that divide? Search that long-term memory for the evening news. Think how much we have assimilated.

Back in the days when we lined elementary school hallways, squatting chin to backbone of the classmate before us, we learned compartmentalization. It is not that there would be a nuclear meltdown. The bad times would be when Billy Johnson farted. We learned to compartmentalize and tell jokes.

So maybe that's it. Our Make Love Not War generation has developed a way to work around huge gulfs between one another's values, lifestyles and beliefs and to remain friends.

Or, then again, maybe we're just shallow.

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