Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Generation Gap Within

Writing about Orange Street as you did yesterday must share responsibility for pulling the cork out of the bottle.You remember a time back there/then, when you asked your mother how old she was. She told you, 32. Doing the math, this wold have made you late 5, early six. 

Diplomatic you. Your reply, "That's way too old for me. I'm leaving when I'm 30."

"Thirty isn't so old," she said.

You, the diplomat. "Yes, it is."

A splendid example of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle: attempts to measure things affects the outcome. By the time you were 30, that age didn't seem the slightest bit old, except when it became necessary during some of the writers' baseball  games, the necessity arose to allow some of the teenagers hanging around to fill out the positions and they would say things like "Nice catch, sir," and "Throw it over here, sir."  "The little fucker," one of the writers, an officer in the Writers' Guild muttered.  You made the day by saying, "Wait until he finds out what nice pitch really means."  "I'm gonna steal that," an agent said.

You were, in actuality, beyond 30 when you remembered your earlier intentions of not being around munch beyond that time, and as you think about such things now, you remember some of the times and places when the chronological you was beset by youngsters, hanging around to fill out the positions. These times and places were beyond the writers' baseball gatherings or, the Sunday touch football games many of your friends referred to as Hangover Football, because many of you were, indeed, playing hungover from the night before.

At these times, you were variously a frustrated writer of narrative fiction, a frustrated television writer, and, at one point,a screenwriter who was in the act of discovering his scripts were beards for helping your employer seduce young actresses. You were also a frustrated writer who, at times saw as many as four of his novels on the racks at magazine stands, a beginning editor, and, seemingly miraculous, a teacher.

The young persons you had to deal with were aspects of you who had not progressed as far as the chronological you thought he had. They were angry, which meant they were working on a base of fear' they were uncertain, resentful, defensive, and given to moments of vulnerability and vainglory, wanting something from you, largely assurances which you could not give them because, chronology and professional positions to the contrary notwithstanding, you did not know how.

In some encounters, they came to you in ways that now seem quite normal and understandable: they were fearful of not having the sort of career path so many of your classmates had, they were fearful of having squandered their talents and abilities, of having had no talents or abilities in the first place, and, from time to time, fearful of having reached various plateaus as a result of deceit, deception, or misadventure.  

You were, at those earlier times, striding through the chronology of the career path of a moderately late bloomer, much of your faith in your abilities invested in the equivalent of long-term bonds. This made coping with the priorities of your younger selves a chore, spiraling downward toward a crisis of confidence and no clear plan for avoiding disaster.

Unless you could, as you had on numerous occasions, produce a result that would buy you some time and leave your confidence in tact.  Your desperation scheme was to in effect gather these younger aspects of yourself into a cadre, then begin asking them to detail their fears, expectations, and gripes, all of which you promised to absorb.

Their lists of grievances and fears was even worse than you expected. In desperation, you asked them to consider your own priorities, many of which, as you feared, they considered as bad as or worse than your responses to theirs. 

Somehow this internal pow wow produced extended periods of accord; you could at least exchange ideas on a civil manner. When events pushed their fear buttons, they could explain their fears to you in an atmosphere of accord from which workable plans emerged.

Some of these younger persons have taken steps toward achieving a chronological catch-up, easing the generational gap, although you do catch them, on occasion, telling you, "Nice catch, sir."

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