Let me start by saying upfront: I really love my parents.
They’re swell folks who have worked hard all their lives and set wonderful examples for my brother and I. They’re attentive and loving grand parents. And For the most part, they’ve supported me unconditionally in just about every hair-brained scheme I’ve ever set out on. (Though they’re still not stoked about the tattoo even 20 years later.)
All that mushy-gushy dutiful son stuff aside, I’m really starting to wonder if my parents have in fact become road-kill on the information super highway.
To be fair, they do have a lap top at home. Both of ‘em send email and my Mom has even figured out how to send text messages. (This is a mixed blessing as you’d imagine.)
But even with all this technological savvy at their disposal, there’s still something distinctly 19th century about everything they do.
Let me give you an example:
The other day I’m driving home from work and, using my hand’s free “Judy from Time-Life operator” head set, I decide to call my folks.
My Dad actually answers on one ring, and before I can get the words “Hi Dad, how’s it going?” out of my mouth he says “Hey, can I call you back?”
Deep in the recesses of my noggin I’m thinking “Oh, God. I hope he’s not in the middle of taking a dump or something. But if he is, why would he bring the phone with him in the first place?”
Curiosity having gotten the better of me, I did ask say, “Uh…sure. But why?”
And he says, with a completely straight face mind you, “I’m waiting for your Mother to call so I can go pick her up over at Church.”
Now, in and of itself, this is not a particularly odd sentence, that is, if it’s 1972 and you’re wearing a lime green leisure suit and talking on a phone that you pay a monthly rental fee for.
But, as you may have noticed it’s NOT 1972, no one wears lime green leisure suits anymore (besides Lady GaGa) and NO ONE rents a damn phone from the damn phone company anymore either!
I suspect that even the inhabitants of the deepest most remote jungle of South America have embraced the technology of “multiple line telephone capability”, so why in the name of God’s green Earth haven’t my parents?
See, when my Dad says “can I call you back?” what he’s really saying is this:
“Much like one of the dust bowl migrant characters in John Steinbeck’s novel “The Grapes of Wrath”, I recognize that the world is, in fact, changing around me, but I honestly don’t give a rat’s ass.
I totally understand that for some incredibly low fee I can actually set it up so multiple land lines come into my house, and no one who calls me will ever have to listen to a busy signal again!
“And I further understand that I can also pay the phone company another very nominal fee to record incoming messages so I can finally throw away that 9 dollar cassette answering machine I bought in 1986.
While I UNDERSTAND all of these things, as previously mentioned, I’m not really inclined to give two shits. Thusly, if you call me and I’m expecting another call sometime in the next 2 to 42 hours, I will have to hang up immediately and call you back at some undetermined point in the future.”
(Insert sounds of banjo music and toothless country bumpkins farting about here)
At this point in my life, I can’t decide who drives me more crazy: my kids, or my parents.
I think this is why they call it “middle age”.