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Tyrades! The baby boom turns 65

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The three words that members of my generation never thought we'd hear: "aging baby boomers."

But the first boomers (defined by the United States Census Bureau as individuals born between 1946 and 1964) will be turning 65 on January 1, beginning the inexorable shift of the "Me Generation" to the "Bathe Me Generation."

Yes, the oldest members of the movers and shakers of society will find themselves needing Metamucil to have movement ("Heck no! We can't go!") and depending on $4 generics to stop the shaking.

To be fair, the rebellious vanguard boomers -- still challenging tradition -- are determined not to glide into a retirement of rocking chairs and courthouse square whittling benches. They intend to stay more physically and mentally active than the stereotypical senior citizen. ("I'll use a walker -- but only if it's light enough for rappelling, man.") They'll continue to champion social justice. ("Hair plugs to the people!!!!") They'll partake of the 4:30 "early bird special" only if they get the munchies. ("The pizza here is too hard! Oh, wait -- that's my Cheech & Chong LP I was chewing. Whoa!")

By its sheer size, the boomer generation has transformed society every step of the way, affecting school construction, advertising campaign focus, and racial equality. Sometimes society's kowtowing goes to extremes. ("Okay, we got the Colorado River redirected. But now the boomers are questioning the whole 'rock beats scissors' ethic. Quick! Call a conference of the Vatican, the United Nations, and the AFL-CIO!")

The boomers have redefined hair length, fashion and dating. I'm confident that the retiring professionals among the boomers will bring their own flair to senior citizen crankiness. ("I'll have my people call your people and tell you kids to get off my $#@& lawn!")

But what forces shaped the boomers themselves? Certainly rock music helped define the generation, and alas, will continue to do so. The Who and Bob Dylan will have to travel back to the recording studio for "Talkin' About My Defibrillation" and "The Depends, They Need A-Changin'."

Many analysts have blamed pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock for encouraging parents to rear a spoiled, self-centered generation.

The fault actually lies with the publisher for leaving out the pivotal last page of his best-selling book "Baby and Child Care": "NOT!"

The formative years of the boomers weren't the squeaky clean world of the '50s sitcoms, but it WAS a time before AIDS, terrorist threats and outsourcing. It was an era when the only "metal detector" in school was the insufferable kid sitting next to you, who would announce to everyone, "Hey, look! Suzie has braces! Can you pick up as many stations as my transistor radio?"

Schools beefed up science education when the Soviets launched Sputnik, but Cold War hysteria hampered the teaching of biology. ("Why couldn't the dinosaurs just 'duck and cover' under their desks when the asteroid hit?")

Disillusioning events (the Kennedy and King assassinations, the Vietnam War, Watergate, the cancellation of "My Mother, The Car") plagued those first boomers when they came of age. And the disillusionment keeps on coming. The first boomers always assumed some benign puppeteer to be the man pulling the strings for the iconic Howdy Doody, but WikiLeaks recently revealed that the mastermind all along was...Dick Cheney! (Was it contractor Halliburton that paid Clarabell the Clown to remain silent all those years? Only future leaks will tell.)

Note: Danny Tyree welcomes e-mail at tyreetyrades@aol.com.