Things I Mastered In My Youth Are Now Outdated


Here’s how you know you’re getting old — you know exactly how to do everything, but they don’t do it that way anymore. For instance, I know how to dial a rotary phone, work a manual typewriter and sew a dress on a treadle sewing machine (look it up). Who cares?

These “time-saving machines” requiring skills that took me years to learn have been replaced by more efficient products requiring completely different skills that are taking me years to learn. I still don’t know half the stuff my cell phone can do and, worse, I’m hoping I never have to find out.

I can’t say that I miss manual typewriters. Those things practically invented carpal tunnel syndrome. The new keyboards are much nicer, and I’ve heard that you can even get them with a clackety-clack sound if you’re truly nostalgic. Still, as a high schooler, I wasted six weeks in summer school learning to operate the manual kind and still prefer using the same three or four fingers to type. And can you even imagine a life before “cut and paste?” It was awful. So, no big loss there.

And who sews anymore? By the time you buy the fabric, the pattern, the zipper, the buttons, the thread, the seam binding and any cutesy little trims you want to add, you could’ve bought two dresses — dresses that will be out of style by next year anyway.

I have also trained myself to get up early so I can be first in line at the bank. “Why don’t you just bank online?” my daughter asked. “Or use an ATM?”

Why? Because I am from the generation that knew Nixon was a crook and that the Vietnam War was a mistake long before anyone in power would admit it, that’s why. Because I have a healthy mistrust of authority, that’s why. Because I still like to hold my hard-earned money in my hand, that’s why.

I’ve learned that, regrettably, it really isn’t what you know but whom you know. Once you land that high-level position over scores of other qualified applicants simply because you “knew a guy,” that’s the time to learn the details of the job or, better yet, hire yourself an assistant to do the actual work!

I know what to do in all kinds of emergencies, but most of my solutions involve mercurochrome, tourniquets or outdated methods of CPR that may or may not kill the person I’m trying to help. It’s a crap shoot.

I know the answers to all kinds of questions that begin with the word, “Why?” “Why is the sky blue?” “Why did the chicken cross the road?” “Why do fools fall in love?” “Because,” that’s why.

I know where things are — the grocery store, the post office, the mall. Or I can sit on my patoot and order everything online. I don’t need to go anywhere. As long as I have my 64-ounce soft drink, I’m good.

And the way I really know I’m old? If anyone asks me about any one of those ancient things, I will go on and on and on and on about it. The youngsters seem to know enough not to ask.