Vinegar Visions: On the Bashing of Boomers, Joe Queenen, and Mid-life Crises



Being a Boomer is not about having a mid-life crisis. Joe Queenen apparently does not understand this. I’m sitting in a Borders Books drinking a regular coffee and not a decaf latte, thank you very much, and skimming through a copy of Balsamic Dreams, Joe’s most recent book. I refuse to even contemplate purchase of a copy as I will in no way financially support cynicism. It is not an art form. Not only is the book whiny, it is falsely based and offensive to the majority of the Baby Boomers, not so much because of the characteristics he chooses to lampoon, but because he didn’t even bother to do his research to find out who the Boomers really are.

I hate to shatter JQ’s (rhymes with GQ… yawn) dreams, and he is dreaming, but his cohort does not typify and never has typified the Boomers. I am a typical Boomer. Born in 1957 the modal height of the Post War Baby Boom. Female… females always make up the majority of a generation by adulthood. White/Anglo/vanilla… double yawn. Didn’t go to Woodstock — too young. None of the boys I dated had to worry about getting drafted or going to Vietnam. We do, however remember Kennedy being killed – in the kitchen after a political rally. And Elvis was a fat old man in a silly fringed suit who died in a toilet.
Joe makes many outrageous claims but the most uninformed one is his assertion that Boomers are convinced of their uniqueness as a generation. Get real. We from the height and end of the boom didn’t get the cutesy wootsey post war baby treatment that apparently the older boomers did. By the time we came around it was obvious to our parents generation and the government that had to plan for us that there were a whole lot of us and we were going to be a handful, so to speak. We got the 11th pup treatment so to speak… the first few to pop out evoke “oohs” and “ahhs” then they keep coming and there is back slapping and jokes about healthy reproductive stock, then the few prompt worried looks and by the time the last of the group pops out there is talk euthanizing techniques.

While they were babies of the post war boom — emphasis on the cute and cuddly part, we later born were “Baby Boomers” a named and identifiable threat. Our childhood memories are filled with images of overcrowded, under-equipped classrooms, multiple choice tests, stampede prevention societal training. We were never treated as individuals. We got reamed by Reaganomics in early adulthood, then got the quality shaft from forced team built, impersonalized TQM corporate nonsense that was usually followed by being shipped out the door on several occasions due to downsizing. What world does Joe live in that he thinks Boomers believe they are unique?
The second majorly silly notion that Joe entertains and attempts to pass off as humorous truth is that we are preoccupied with youth. Here he is simply confusing his midlife crisis with being a Boomer. Youth has always sold well. He’s confusing marketing with consumption. In successful campaigns the two are linked, but there is no guarantee that they are. “Face lifts” have been around for a long while. Diet pills aka speed and “the mothers little helpers” of our youth, and to which our mothers often became addicted, have been replaced by the more intelligent mid-life strategy of exercise. Every generation goes through an adjustment period when they realize they have less than half their total life span left to live in a best case scenario. That’s simple mid-life angst. We saw it in the clubs when we were young when geezers in their 40s and 50s donned leisure suits and gold chains and hit on us. Every generation has a few painfully obvious idiots who simply cannot age gracefully. Joe, you are looking dangerously like one of these types.

I think you get my drift. I’m not going to belabor the point that Queenen is off base, but… I am going to briefly debunk a few other myths, stereotypes and misconceptions that he promotes in this book.

He says that Boomers destroyed the future. Phooey. Ward and June Cleever destroyed the future, if indeed it has been destroyed which I seriously doubt, with all the non-biodegradable tupperware they purchased and the petroleum based hair products they used that were eventually deposited in landfills and aquifers.

We aren’t the spiritually handicapped sucker mystic seekers that JQ makes us out to be either. His cohort got confused and strayed down that path when they confused getting high with personal epiphanies and spiritual enlightenment. By the time we were old enough to do drugs, we knew that drug use was purely a recreational sport.

Neither do we “take credit” for all the good things in life as he accuses. We weren’t in Selma (we were in diapers) and know we didn’t participate in the early 60s civil rights movement. We didn’t burn our bras (in fact this whole phenomenon is urban folklore – we were still girls at the time and we hoping we’d develop enough to have something to put into bras.) And we read Silent Spring in grade school and stake no claim on early environmentalism.

I could go on and on, but what’s the use. These silly elder Boomers will veer off course down obscure avenues another time or two before they are gone; they’ve been doing it all their lives and are fairly predictable in their supposed eccentricities. I have decided that while I will challenge their off base assertions about Boomers I will also see the good in the whole process that Joe’s Boomer bashing typifies. It is good that they finally got around to mocking themselves. We’ve been doing it for decades. So give the next old hippie you see your biggest Mike Myers “Groovy Baby” grin and go on your merry way… or flash ’em a saggy nipple that was pierced with a safety pin in 1978… whatever… just think twice or more before purchasing his book!

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