He’s not a fuddy-duddy ­ just don’t rush him

He's not a fuddy-duddy � just don't rush him By Bob Karolevitz The world is passing me by!

I realize that I have always been somewhat of a foot-dragger in the never ending march of progress, but I was never too far behind. Now, however, I think I've suddenly become a Neanderthal in the dot-com age.

Take television commercials, for instance. I need an interpreter to explain lots of them to me. "What are they selling?" I ask Phyllis � and she doesn't know either. We haven't even heard of the advertisers who are big on NASDAQ.

Then there's the music. I tuned out a long time ago with Elvis and the Monkees, but they were almost classical compared to Eminem and grungy groups like Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins. I've tried to adjust, but my ears are stuck in the '40s.

I don't understand current humor either. He who sticks out his tongue the farthest, makes the most grotesque faces or throws up on the screen gets the most laughs; and I find myself longing for a subtle Bob Benchley line or an Ogden Nash verse.

I'm not a prude. I read Lady Chatterly's Lover more than a half century ago, but now explicit everything has gone prime time. I was one of those who gasped when Clark Gable said, "Frankly, Scarlett, I don't give a damn." Today barracks language doesn't even raise an eyebrow.

As a writer, I know I should get with it in this era of technological enlightenment. I should burn my carbon paper and throw away my white-out. Actually I thought I made a major adjustment when I switched from an ink well to a ballpoint pen. Now, though, you're nobody until your computer has a virus.

Frankly, I don't want to go back to caveman days. As a matter of fact, I don't even want to turn back the calendar to battery-powered radios and Amos 'n Andy time. I like my electric lights and the garage door opener, but sometimes I fear that we've come too far too fast.

I find myself asking: "Who cares if there's water on Mars?" We've got enough trouble with our own aquifer. And I sure don't want to clone another me.

Of course there's lots to be said about the advancements in medical science and genetic research; and those of us who were brought up with mercurochrome and castor oil should be grateful for all the new remedies for old aches and pains. Trouble is, we keep finding something else that needs curing, too.

Oh well, I suppose I'll be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century which is already well under way. I'm even considering getting rid of our old-fashioned dial telephones and buying the newfangled push-button kind. You see, I'm not as much of an old fogie as you thought.

On the other hand, I'm not ready for computers yet. I really don't care if Microsoft gets split up, and I don't feel sorry that Amazon.com hasn't made a profit. That's how my dinosaur mentality works.

"Don't tell me you're not on the Internet," people say to me incredulously. And I respond: "No, and I don't do Windows either!" All the information I need is in my trusty old set of Encyclopedia Britannica and the other books on my shelf.

Speaking of books, I find myself gloating over the Harry Potter phenomenon. In a way, this tells me that millions of others are also fighting a rear-guard action against progress, although they probably don't know it. The Bobbsey Twins will rise again, I say!

When it comes right down to it, though, I'm really not a militant fuddy-duddy. I understand that if we don't go forward, we'll be losing ground. I just don't want to be rushed down a primrose path unless I can stop along the way to smell the flowers.

As I said in the beginning, the world is passing me by, but at least I'd like to stay within a shouting distance of it.

I'm trying awfully hard, so help me Bill Gates! Amen.

© 2000 Robert F. Karolevitz

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