The September Issue: Or, $#!+ Boomers Talk About

One hundred and fifty-five pages (155pp). On my desk, awaiting perusal.

"the september issue"

C’mon, this is Kirkus Reviews, not f*cking Vogue.

Actually, it would be kind of cool if KR dispensed with their snarky and archaically worded capsule reviews and instead ran a photo spread of, say, Margaret Atwood modeling a line of couture casual wear inspired by Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome or perhaps all the various literary Jonathans posed in a tableau vivant of Raphael’s School of Athens. (Or, in my less charitable moments, (which are most of them), Géricault’s Raft of the Medusa.)

Unfortunately, they haven’t. Instead, I get to read a short interview with “beloved singer”-turned-memoirist Linda Ronstadt. Personally, I don’t have anything against Ms. Ronstadt. However, I do strongly object to the unending barrage of ghostwritten autobiographies of Baby Boomer icons.

You know how you don’t ever want to walk in on your parents having sex? Well, I don’t want to be reading a book and come across some aging celebrity’s shuffle down memory lane — especially when the book’s author-subject is not exactly reclusive. Is there anything we did not know, yet really need to know, about Linda Ronstadt? About anyone remotely famous and born in the 20th century, for that matter? For the most part, they did substantial amounts of recreational drugs and had sexual intercourse with other famous people whom I invariably consider to be old, weird, and gross.

(Speaking of revelations, I did recently learn that — in addition to perving on underage girls — author J.D. Salinger purportedly had only one testicle…but that’s way TMI and if I could, I’d UNlearn this.)

I guess I just don’t understand. It’s probably a generational thing. Yeah, I’m pretty sure it is.

Which brings me to…

$#!+ Boomers Talk About!

1.) Retirement. This is when you stop going to work because you’re old, or else you want to devote more time to your alcoholism or your model trains. Or something like that. How do you afford it? In the U.S., you use something called social security…or so I’m told.

If I ever retire, it will be in the manner favored by my forebears — by which I mean either dropping dead of some virulent infection caused by squalid living conditions or being mangled beyond recognition by industrial machinery. Like, when I lose my job and am sent to debtor’s prison, where I’ll be forced to spend my days assembling whatever ludicrous piece of technology eventually supercedes the iPad.

2.) Retirement Homes. This is when you decide to buy a second home, because…well, I don’t really know.

But then, I’m a curmudgeon who — rather like the late Quentin Crisp — likes living in one room and has never known what people do with the room they are not in. That goes double for houses. If you can bi-locate, then by all means, have a second residence; if not, what’s the point? Storage, maybe…though there are off-site facilities for that sort of thing now.

However, as someone who grew up in the middle of nowhere, I do have to ask: why didn’t you buy the house located in the nice place the first time around? I mean, why choose the dying rust belt town to raise your kids in and THEN spring for the seaside bungalow once they’ve flown the nest? More to the point, who cares where you are when you die? With the exception of nursing homes, nice surroundings are for the living.

Other way around, people. Other way around.

3.) College, which back in the day a.) cost $300 a year; b.) kept you from being drafted even if you had the IQ of a boiled yam; c.) could be completed while stoned off your @$$; and d.) still somehow led to a job that paid a living wage.

Obviously, this makes me want to kick people.

4.) Road Trips. Once upon a time, people got into their cars and drove to places. Why? No reason, really. Some of it was because society had nearly reached the tipping point of Peak Oil and they wanted to ensure that future generations wouldn’t get any petroleum for manufacturing and transportation. But mostly it was for the LOLs.

Admittedly, I don’t understand cars. The first one I had access to as a driver was the $800 $#!+box Saab Turbo that I was required to share with my four siblings** and had the endearing habit of breaking down exactly four miles from any gas station. My brothers spent their summers manually pushing it down the highway while people buzzed past honking, swearing, and throwing half-melted ICEE cups at them. I gave up on automobiles fairly early in my adolescence, convinced that they’d either crash into a guardrail and immediately explode in a fireball or break down along the shoulder of a road late at night, thus making some itinerant serial killer’s dreams come true. Although, as my sibs always hastened to reassure me, “Don’t worry. You’re not pretty enough to get abducted and murdered.” Thanks, guys!

5.) “You kids today, with your Internet phones, always Googling and twittering and blogging on the Facepages…”

Yes, because parking your @$$ in front of a vacuum tube and imbibing episodes of Howdy Doody while wearing the glazed expression of an infant just yanked off the tit is an intrinsically better, more spiritually uplifting activity than texting your sister.

6.) Living Forever. Boomers never say this outright, because as a goal it sounds — and is — absurd. But this is what they’re really talking about when they talk about antioxidants and neuroplasticity and the mind-body connection and healthy aging: god-like immortality. I know what you’re thinking: it’s easy to dismiss these concerns when you’re young(er). However, my grandparents didn’t invest their life savings in weird “rejuvenifying” skin creams or industrial-strength Spanxx, nor did their peers.** I think mostly they wore their advanced age as a kind of badge of honor, because it meant that they’d survived all kinds of terrible things — economic depression, civil unrest, war (+/- genocide), disease, famine, March Madness…

Viewed in this light, getting older becomes just another way of saying, “Yo, suck it, polio!”

I’m not trying to romanticize the prospect of edging closer to death, because truly, it’s just a thing that happens. I just hope I’ll be bad@$$ about it, when the time comes. I’m already mean and cranky, so being elderly can only increase my power.

7.) Finding Oneself.

Personally, I have never had a problem with this. Because everywhere I go, there the f*ck I am. I’m not saying I like who I am — in fact, I’d cross the street to get away from me, were it possible to do so, or else fake a very important phone call whenever I caught sight of me — but I do know myself. And sometimes I’d give anything to LOSE me.

*Theoretically. Actually, I’m so bad at driving stick that I only ever got to ride along as a passenger.
**Although they derived a certain vicarious thrill from reading the obituaries and speculating on which of their nearest and dearest would be the next to pop off (tracking failing organs and creeping dementia the way some gamblers formulate systems for betting on horses), I think this activity was more aspirational than anything else — similar to the way 12-year-olds read Seventeen, and 17-year-olds read Cosmo.
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One thought on “The September Issue: Or, $#!+ Boomers Talk About

  1. charles kane says:

    Ronstadt wrote the book herself. She has always been a voracious reader and is not some typical baby boomer icon. The memoir is a delight to read and is clearly, engagingly written by the singer. The preface to the memoir is from Johnathan Karp, Simon and Schusters Editor in Chief, who states ghost writers lined up to offer their services but they were not needed. The cover of Kirkus is warranted

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