Walking the streets, alone, I notice that it is the old people who now wear the T-shirts of my analog youth, and I can only come to the conclusion that what was my youth was theirs as well, and am left to wonder, on occasion, and aloud, how the fuck did this happen?
I tell my students, the ones who can sit still, youth being wasted and all that, I tell them, “Achieving Zen, enlightenment, Nirvana, whatever, in this age, is Tweeting with no expectation of performance, no expectation of notification, truly not caring if you ever see the little red encircled number on the bird set in the blue background. That’s bliss today.” They, however, of course, don’t listen.
I take my constitutional and 11:05, daily, and I see them, the ones who do the “dunking,” face buried, seeing nothing, not even where they go, and they too, sometimes, wear the T-shirts of my analog youth, and I then too, am left to wonder, how the fuck did this happen?
At home I have an armchair, it’s very comfortable and has conformed to me. It’s where I read and watch television, and too, sometimes, I will admit, spend hours with face buried, but it’s different. I have the New Yorker app, and not the free version, either. My children, yes, I do see them, they say that it’s the same thing. That it doesn’t matter why your face is buried, it’s buried all the same. I told my youngest that “Once, when I was your age, my friends and I got drunk on Goldschalger and roamed the streets, mid-day mind you, and we found a house where the carpet was being redone, and we took the old carpet, just sitting there on the curb, and we carpeted the street.” We knew how to cause trouble. She didn’t look up from her phone.
At night, when the grading is done, and my head is full of the generational pissings of children who have no idea how good they have it, I pour four fingers of whiskey, I drink it then pour four more, and I relax in my armchair, in the house The Ex tried to take, and am left to wonder, how the fuck did this happen?
Scott Mitchel May is a writer living in Vermont with his family.