Understanding Youngsters

An Old Geezer’s Guide

Photo: Alexis Brown

As a person whose mailbox is now a daily depository for AARP mailings, I feel I am somewhat qualified to speak on older people issues.

I’ve heard a lot of older folks say they don’t understand young people. I’m here to help. You just need to realize a few things and avoid a few topics, and you will find they are not so strange after all. You may even start enjoying their company. As I do.

Here are some things I have learned by spending time with young people:

They don’t get my 1970s references. Or my 1980s references. After that, I have no references. Don’t expect them to get your 40-year-old cultural jokes.

Never talk about your bad knees or hips. They don’t want to hear it. They are so flexible, they can sleep in a bucket. Besides, they will figure it out when you are hobbling 20 feet behind them.

And while you shouldn’t complain about your physical ailments, oh brother, can they complain about their early-life problems. I think it is a requirement to become a Tweetster or a Bloggadier or an InstaGramCracker or whatever they do all day on their phones. Just say, “It will all work out fine. I believe in you.” That usually works.

Don’t ever mention the fact that you had the same haircut and wore the same exact clothes they are wearing back in ’74. They don’t like that. They think they are hip. Just like you did back in ’74.

When they start using slang you don’t understand, just say, “Groovy man. That was bad.” Then they will have the same facial expression you do.

Remember, they grew up receiving participation medals. So they don’t really understand why people don’t think everything they do is great. Just say “That’s awesome,” a lot.

Being old is a great for getting out of stuff they invite you to that you don’t want to do. These excuses are gold:

“I would, but my [take your pick of body parts] is giving me fits today.”

“I don’t like that newfangled stuff. In my day…” At this point, they start to excuse themselves. They were probably just being polite anyway.

Phone checking at two-minute intervals is expected and acceptable. They are not ignoring you. Well, actually they are, but they have followers who need them. And virtual followers are more important than the people you are currently spending time with. Don’t try to understand it. Use the time to practice your whistling. Or sing the Banana Boat Song (Day-O).

Embrace the selfie. It will probably happen. Making the “peace” sign will add to your “uncool” geezer factor. You are embracing your uncoolness, aren’t you? Being uncool makes you cool. Again, don’t try to understand.

Tell them you like donuts. You might get some for free.

These were all in fun. I like young people. Every generation has their own quirks. Have you seen any movies from the 1970s? Dude.

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