May 1, 1998
Earlier this week there was a general strike in Denmark. It may still be going on – I’ve noticed that as far as countries outside the United States, the media here has the short attention span they accuse the rest of us of having. Anyway, this must happen a lot over there because people are preparing themselves for a long haul. Afraid that stores are going to run out of food, they’re buying vast quantities of food and storing it in their houses. In fact, this happens so often they have a term for this. They call it–I swear I’m not making this up–hamstering. It’s taken from the way hamsters store food by stuffing it into their cheeks, and while I have yet to meet a Dane who can put a whole side of smoked salmon into his face at once, it does explain why Victor Borge is sometimes more than a little hard to understand. Anyway, I started thinking that maybe we should start using other rodents as verbs as well. We already have "ferreting", which the Webster’s Dictionary defines as "to search diligently while smelling like cedar chips and musk". So why not say that digging through your friends’ refrigerator because you’re out of food is "ratting"? Actually we also already have ratting–it’s a slang term for giving the police information about someone who’s done something illegal. This comes from the way that a rat, when cornered, will insist that it was his brother Louie who’s been digging in your garbage all this time. Down in the South, we also have the expression "playing possum", which means lying down in front of a speeding car and hoping the driver has insurance. Finally, we come to my own contribution to rodent terms: Sitting in one place for days, shrieking occasionally, and trying to bite anyone who comes near you should be called "guinea pigging". Already you’re probably thinking of people to whom this applies.
Enjoy this week’s offering.
Children of the 80’s
The people who are starting college this fall across the nation were born in 1980.
The Iranian hostage crisis occurred before they were conceived.
They have no memory of a time before MTV.
"New Wave" is their PARENTS musical generation.
Cyndi Lauper, Boy George, the Pretenders, the Kinks, the Sex Pistols — are all old music they have heard of, if they have heard of it at all.
They have no meaningful recollection of the Reagan era.
They were prepubescent when the Persian Gulf War was waged.
If they have heard the name "Oliver North," it was probably as a losing Congressional candidate, or perhaps in some obscure survey history text’s reference, such as might be made to Huey Long or Teapot Dome.
Black Monday 1987 is as significant to them as the Great Depression.
Their world has always included AIDS.
Having not lived through the Disco Scare, they can romanticize the 1970s.
They see "Family Ties" as something middle aged ladies watch.
They watched "Star Wars" years ago, when they were kids — on video.
Atari predates them, as do vinyl albums and cassette audiotapes; they may have heard of an 8-track, but probably never actually seen (or heard) one.
From their earliest years, a camera was something you used once and threw away.
As far as they know, stamps have always cost about 32 cents.
The oil crisis is history of which they probably know nothing — and why anyone WOULDN’T buy a Chevy Suburban is beyond them.
Most of them have probably never seen a real nun, even if they went to Catholic schools.
The Cold War, Perestroika and the Berlin Wall are all historical curiosities to them, as is being scared witless about nuclear attacks with something called "The Day After," which they remember hearing about vaguely.
Dallas is that weird re-run in among the line dancing shows in The Nashville Network.
So is the Dukes of Hazard.
Such a thing exists as "Classical Alternative."
Richard Petty is "Kyle’s dad."
Many of them probably never saw a filmstrip projector, let alone a filmstrip in grade school/preschool.
Sting was in The Police??
They don’t remember when Ahmad Rashad played football, and wasn’t even named Ahmad Rashad.
They never saw the films shown on Mystery Science Theater on late-night monster movie shows like Elvira, Mistress of the Dark and such as serious horror films.
Catch phrases that might mean something: Herb, Where’s the Beef, New Coke.
Their parents had to lift them up to be part of Hands Across America.
They can’t identify most of the artists who performed on USA For Africa’s We are the World (let alone identify that Michael Jackson is INDEED the black guy singing the first chorus, since it looks nothing like him).
Their first computer experience was not on a Commodore 64.
Four words: CB Radio. What gives?
The explosion of the Challenger was not all that significant to their lives, nor do they remember where they were for it.
They’ve never experienced a live, understandable Bob Dylan (though Jakob is cute).
Some had hand-me-down Cabbage Patch Dolls.
It takes them a while to remember what Schoolhouse Rock and Afterschool Specials are.
Where did they watch things like Happy Days, Saturday Night Live, The Muppet Show, and other like shows? Nickelodeon.
Most of us remember TV announcers such as NBA analyst Bill Walton, football announcer Dan Dierdorf, NHL commentator John Davidson and baseball announcer Joe Morgan when they were still active players, and when there was only one series and one issue of sports cards – Topps.
Some of US are getting class reunion forms that have an optional listing for "grandchildren."
We’ve lived through Pac-Man fever – the album and the affliction – and fought to get those mini-arcade games from Coleco.
Zoom was not a verb, and the Electric Company is not where mom and dad pay bills.
We know why Hooper’s Grocery Store is named Hooper’s on Sesame Street.
Iron-ons were all over our clothes.
There was no such things as roller blades – there were roller skates, which were essentially tennis shows with shopping cart wheels flung on at random on a piece of sheet metal. There was also apparently no such thing as skating safety, apparently caused by all parents having a lifetime supply of peroxide and mercurochrome for our skinned knees. Well, except for the times we were at roller discos or dancing to organists instead of disc jockeys playing organ music. And skating in reverse.
These kids, unlike us, had those chic and stylish girl scout/boy scout uniforms, as our handbooks seemed to indicate we’d get merit badges for looking like complete dorks.
The Brat Pack movies – like Outsiders and The Breakfast Club – were the script and soundtrack to our lives. Unlike Pulp Fiction.
Basic Rules For Dogs
VISITORS: Quickly determine which guest is afraid of dogs. Charge across the room, barking loudly and leap playfully on this person. If the human falls down on the floor and starts crying, lick its face and growl gently to show your concern.
BARKING: Because you are a dog, you are expected to bark. So bark – a lot. Your owners will be very happy to hear you protecting their house. Especially late at night while they are sleeping safely in their beds. There is no more secure feeling for a human than to keep waking up in the middle of the night and hearing your protective bark, bark, bark…
LICKING: Always take a BIG drink from the toilet immediately before licking your human. Humans prefer clean tongues. Be ready to fetch your human a towel.
HOLES: Rather than digging a BIG hole in the middle of the yard and upsetting your human, dig a lot of smaller holes all over the yard so they won’t notice. If you arrange a little pile of dirt on one side of each hole, maybe they’ll hink it’s gophers. There are never enough holes in the ground. Strive daily to do your part to help correct this problem.
DOORS: The area directly in front of a door is always reserved for the dog to sleep.
THE ART OF SNIFFING: Humans like to be sniffed. Everywhere. It is your duty, as the family dog, to accommodate them.
DINING ETIQUETTE: Always sit under the table at dinner, especially when there are guests, so you can clean up any food that falls on the floor. It’s also a good time to practice your sniffing.
HOUSEBREAKING: Housebreaking is very important to humans, so break as much of the house as possible.
GOING FOR WALKS: Rules of the road: When out for a walk with your master or mistress, never go to the bathroom on your own lawn.
COUCHES: It is perfectly permissible to lie on the new couch after all your humans have gone to bed.
PLAYING: If you lose your footing while chasing a ball or stick, use the flower bed to absorb your fall so you don’t injure yourself.
CHASING CATS: When chasing cats, make sure you never – quite – catch them. It spoils all the fun.
CHEWING: Make a contribution to the fashion industry. …Eat a shoe.