Wednesday, April 22, 2009

You Say Po-ta-to, I Say Po-tah-to

As a young(er) woman, I could not see why in the world my mentors, my employers, the men and women who were older (and wiser) than I, insisted I was "so young." In my eyes, I was smart, sharp, creative and bold.

Today, just on the other side of 40, I look at the young(er) men and women, and think, "infants." Not in a derogatory way. Certainly those "kids" can run circles around my technological abilities. Not to mention, they have the ability to run on less sleep and still have energy to spare. But life experience gives a different perspective than you can ever have, no matter how bright and/or energetic.

The "generation gap" rears its ugly head in the most unexpected ways and in the most unusual circumstances. I can remember being young(er) and my parents practically passing out from the smell of my bubble gum. Watermelon Bubblicious was Divine, but did have a certain quality about it that admittedly assaulted the senses. Still, it was one of my favorites.

My generation discovered a deep and passionate love for Zingers, Ho Ho's, sugary cereals, such as BooBerry and Count Chocula. We had the original Original Coke, before the New Coke and the New Original Coke. We loved Spam sandwiches and Hamburger Helper. We were in the generation that took the most advantage of "man-made, modern chemically processed food."

Today, "Organic" is the new "New & Improved." Vegans all over the world practically faint at the thought of the ingredients on the side of a Spam can (who can blame them?). The FDA has had to double-time it to keep up with the consumer's demand for "what is in this stuff???". And even then, companies' claims are fuzzy and misleading, at best.

My children love anything sour and/or having the ability to discolor their tongues. Now, when I say "sour," I don't mean even like lemons. I mean sour that makes you do that little shimmy, shiver like when you have to take bad cold medicine. Ick. My kids delight in watching me contort and generally spaz when they trick me into consuming something from their vile "sour" stash.

They also like to show "originality" by having green and/or blue tongues. They LOVE when a product will stain their tongue to look like a picture or say words.

Would I have thought that was "cool" when I was their age? Hard to say. I have such a tremendous distaste for it now, I don't think my judgement is exactly un-biased to rate them as a young(er) person.

I do know that as a young(er) person I thought Taco Bell was the best Mexican food in the world. I loved butter and peanut butter sandwiches, Tang, un-diet sodas, Pixie Sticks (pure, flavored sugar in a tube), and super-greasy french fries. Now, any one of those things makes my stomach hurt at the very thought, and my waistline bulge just a little, too.

So, would I like "sour raspberry bug juice" if I were my children's peer today, instead of their parent? Hard to say. I rather think not. But... could be, I suppose.

I have developed a taste that allows me to enjoy vegetables, which my children still think are the equivalent of eating echtoplasmic dirt. I prefer diet drinks, while my kids can go back and forth between regular and diet drinks without effort. However, my kids do not like Spam any more than I. And, after enough "junk" food, they will actually request "real" food.

The line between child and adult continues to blur as I realize that my children are armed with information I never received. For example, the modern marvel of chemicals that had such an appeal for my generation, is now commonly regarded as the cause of many illnesses and modern-day problems by me and my children.

I suppose, bottom-line, the older generation will always think of the younger generation as "so young/un-knowledgeable/lacking life experience"- no matter if we're talking fashion, theory or food. And the younger generation will always look at the older generation as "so old/square/not with it" right back at them. It's the way it has always been, and will always be.

I have to say, though, I am particularly glad we have come to some common ground: Spam is NOT an option, no matter what your age!

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