Time affixes fancy footwork to yesteryear

"None is so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm."  – Henry David Thoreau

The other day in the dentist's waiting room, I was the only one with my neck craned upward watching Paula Dean make macaroni and cheese.

My much younger cohabitors who, like me, were waiting to have their teeth poked, prodded, pulled or drilled had their heads turned downward, seemingly lost in a digital world, where people speak with thumbs, not voices.

Within the framework of one-by-two windows on i-Phones and other electronic devices, this new generation inhabits a place where diction and pronunciation fall silent and language is limited to a short list of truncated, homogenized antonyms.

The letter u stands for the word you. R equals are or our; the number 4 means four, for or fore and the number 2 means too, to or two. Simply put, this is not your mother's shorthand.

While good old Chef Dean, in her best Southern drawl, continued mixing and measuring easy-to-make dinner casseroles, I became distracted. Sitting next to me in the crowded waiting room was a middle school student with his hands chattering away, busily texting, while mine were idly folded in my lap. Hmm. Suddenly, I felt very old and completely out of touch.

Even though I see myself as being somewhat of a techie, I haven't upgraded from my standard release, pay-as-you-go Trac Phone yet, which naturally puts me behind the times about two decades.

Years ago the main differences between the generations were simple: the wars we fought, average income we made, whether we used a wringer or an electric washer, a clothes line or a gas dryer, an outhouse or flush toilet, rolled, kneaded and baked our own bread or used a bread maker to do it all.

The generation gaps back then didn't affect something as basic as how, when and where we interacted. Remember? Together, we laughed, joked and cried out loud. We could be together in the flesh with high-pitched chit-chat or long-winded monotones, exchanging smiles, smirks and real winks, not ;-). It was our throats that would get sore, not our thumbs!

As I consider the young man who quietly texted away on a tiny keyboard the size of a playing card, I wondered if kids today get enthused over buying school supplies.

Did his mother even need to go to the store to purchase them from a list printed in the town newspaper or was everything he needed online?

Recalling the woody aroma of my school days cultivated by memory of pencils, wide ruled notebook paper and real wood desks sent me into a romantic waltz with the past.

High-stepping with the fancy footwork time affixes to yesteryear, I boastfully and enthusiastically recalled my list: 8 classic colors markers, washable, wide tip; 3 crayons, 24 count box; 1 rubber eraser, pink, large; 1 bottle Elmer's glue; 8 folders, 2 blue, 2 red, 2 green, 2 yellow; 12 pencils No. 2, sharpened 1 pencil box; 1 scissors for kids, 5-inch blunt tip; 2 red pens or marking pencils; 1 wood 12-inch wood ruler and 4 brown paper bags for book covers.

Lost in the rise and fall, swing or sway of then and now, I slowly floated back to the present and wondered if that kid, more than 50 years my junior, sitting in the next chair even knew how to use a ruler. And, when was the last time he had a set of 8 classic colors markers, washable, wide tip?

2012 © Copyright Paula Damon. A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Bosco Damon is a national award-winning columnist. Her writing has won first-place in competitions of the National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women. In the 2009, 2010 and 2011 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contests, her columns have earned eight first-place awards. To contact Paula, email  boscodamon.paula@gmail, follow her blog at my-story-your-story@blogspot.com and find her on FaceBook.

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