Sandwich generation now younger


“…This isn’t real. You know what it is? It’s St. Elmo’s Fire. Electric flashes of light that appear in dark skies out of nowhere. Sailors would guide entire journeys by it, but the joke was on them… there was no fire. There wasn’t even a St. Elmo…. They made it up because they thought they needed it to keep them going when times got tough…. We’re all going through this. It’s our time at the edge.” —Billy, St. Elmo’s Fire

Whoever said “live in the now” has my forever devotion. Special thanks to Garth from “Wayne’s World.”

My kids take great pleasure in thumbing through my old high school yearbooks. Even more so in creating an ’80s station on Pandora, the Internet radio. They don’t do this because they like the music. They do this because it makes them laugh. At me. And trust me when I say they take too much pleasure in rolling on the floor in hysterics when the “oldies” come on.

I like to think I’ve moved on from that decade in my daily life. There are no remnants of historical clothes being housed in my closets, including Def Leppard concert tees, hot pink prom dresses or graduation gowns. I can only privately remember them with nostalgia from time to time.

My youngest daughter wants to be an ’80s girl for Halloween. I was ecstatic about the idea until it sank in. The ’80s is a Halloween get-up? It’s unnerving when your decade turns into a costume. It feels like a coming of age in reverse. Is there a reverse puberty? Is this when we start going backward?

I can resist it, which means I’d have to miss my child time-traveling back to my childhood. Or I could embrace it and put my experience to good use. I’d love to exaggerate all the fads and build her into the Cyndi Lauper-ist reincarnate we can.

But we’ll keep her costume basic. A high-side ponytail with a fat scrunchy is the only must-have. The rest is negotiable.

I have been schooling her on the lingo, but sadly lost her at gag-me-with-a-spoon. Which truthfully wasn’t all that common—and in fairness to my specific history, that was early-80s jargon. I consider myself a member of the hair-band years over the valley girl years, which places me in the post-1985 range. Just to clarify.

I may be super-sensitive to the passing of time, with my peers and me hovering between our growing children and our aging parents. (We’ve been dubbed the sandwich generation by columnist Carol Abaya.) We’re in the middle and it’s a little confusing at times.

But blocking those two factors out, I am pretty sure this could be our prime. We are wiser than we were 10 and 20 years ago. We’re experienced. We understand all too well that metabolism levels are very, very real and retinol cream is on our side. They’re not just for old people anymore.

So, this is when we—and you know who you are—should embrace our place in “the now.” We need to laugh with our children as they are laughing at us. It’s not like we don’t already have laugh lines.

Comments or questions on this column can be directed to shelley@hillsborofreepress.com.


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.