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By Leah Mueller
I have a confession to make.
I am a Boomer. I like to con myself with inner dialogue like, “I’m a CUSP Boomer! Almost a Gen X-er!” However, I was born in 1959. This makes me a solid Boomer (though not like those hippies-turned stockbrokers, who came of age a few years after I was born).
So, yeah, I’ve taken note of the OK Boomer hashtag. I mean, who hasn’t? I’ve an embarrassing confession to make: I still have an AOL email account. It is, in fact, my main email address. However, I’m not some Luddite who has to fetch one of her kids to help her create an email attachment. I’ve been using computers since I was in my 30s. Though I came late to the party, I did arrive. And I haven’t left yet.
I understand what you’re saying about Boomer entitlement, because I’m jealous of most of the people in my age group. My peers had parents who put their kids through college. In my 20s, I belonged to a scrappy social group, made up of loosely affiliated members who were too cool for university. Still, a lot of my memories involve fucking boyfriends in dorm rooms and hanging out with them at their parents’ after they went home for the summer. My friends pondered rebellion from the safety of backyard hammocks, as they drank homemade lemonade and read dogeared copies of Our Bodies, Ourselves.
We still entertained the illusion of choice. However, I was always a rebel. I thumbed my way from Chicago to downstate Indiana to see my boyfriend. Bet you never did that. I hitchhiked through Mexico when I was 30 and pregnant. Drove pickup trucks with expired tabs through Wisconsin snowdrifts. Slept underneath parked semis in truck-stop gravel.
Because I was cool? No. Because I was broke and insane. I didn’t have a hidden trust fund, waiting for me to turn 25. But I still wanted to see everything. Sometimes my stepdad gave me two hundred bucks. It seemed like a fortune. Ronald Fucking Reagan was in office, and minimum wage remained stuck at $3.35 per hour for eight years.
I remember the number because I had to calculate, to the penny, how much each paycheck would be. My poverty seemed absurd because I was a knockout. People told me to apply for a job at the Playboy Tower or something. I didn’t want to shave my legs or my armpits, or deal with slobbering rich men. Besides, I hated to show off my body. Punk friends made fun of me for adopting a headed-to-Woodstock potato sack look. A lot of them had trust funds, so they could afford to be snarky.
The prevalent ‘80s mindset revolved around adopting the right attitude towards the acquisition of wealth. Boomers created illegal Pyramid schemes, visiting the homes of rich friends to discuss how to get even richer. Folks chanted nam myoho renge kyo while fantasizing about 1987 Honda Civics. I liked Honda Civics and had nothing against earning more money. The universe just didn’t see fit to give me any.
Despite my poverty, I got out of my parents’ house as soon as I could. Believe me, my parents were worse than your parents. If you think we Boomers have our heads up our asses, it’s because we were raised by the Greatest Generation. Those folks make us look selfless by comparison. They drank mid-afternoon martinis while we got our little asses kicked on the playground. We took our own kids on playdates, bought them educational toys, and told them to use their words.
No wonder none of you want to leave home. Yeah, I know it’s a harsh world out there. And most Millennials live on their own now. The realization that I’m a 60-year-old woman with a 30-year-old son sobers me. My daughter is 24. Hardcore Millennials, paying their own bills without my help. I wish I could have been a rich Boomer parent because I would’ve spared them a lot of trouble. Will they ever forgive me? When I’m super-old, and they have to decide what the hell to do with Mom, I’ll get the chance to find out.
I understand how you feel, because the adult world sucks. I’ve been living it for over 40 years. The Boomers really did fuck everything up. I watched it go down, powerless to stop the train wreck—or, failing that, hitch a ride on the engine. It’s nearly 2020, the end of our calendar’s second Millennial decade, and the federal minimum wage hasn’t budged in 12 years. Our country doesn’t even need a draft because the military gets plenty of volunteers. Folks of all ages scream about health care, but the loudest voices against Medicare-for-All belong to Boomers. Of course, we’re the ones who need health care the most. But older Boomers already have social security, so who cares?
Medicare still hovers like a wraith in the ether, four years from now. I actually count the days until I turn 65 and won’t have to fudge facts on forms just to stay alive. My husband turns 58 this week as he wrestles with stage 4 cancer, paid for by Medicaid. It’s harder out there than you might think for a white guy, especially an aging hippie who wasn’t cut out for corporate work. I want to scream when I hear fellow Boomers talk about baby steps to Medicare. Baby steps don’t work when you’re old.
By the time Millennials take the helm and we croak, your generation will have enough sense to enact the laws we were stupid enough to oppose. Those of us who struggled towards our elder years will never see those benefits.
You can bet I won’t vote for Joe Biden or Mayor Pete or any of those corporate shills. What will YOU do, if it comes down to either one of them, or Trump? I’m still holding out for Bernie. Though I despise Trump, he’s no worse than Reagan or Bush. Trump’s uncouth, but I don’t really hold that against him. Couth evil is lethal, like invisible gas at a party. Trump is such a jerk that any sane person can tell he’s about to grab your ass. Abbie Hoffman called him “the biggest slumlord in New York” back in the ‘80s.
There are still plenty of Boomers who, inexplicably, think the president’s a great guy. Racism plays a huge role, but so does economics. Not all of his supporters live in the Deep South, either. Drive ten miles past the edge of any liberal city, and you’ll see the Make America Great Again signs. We’re stuck with Trump, and others of his ilk, until your generation has enough sense to vote them all out of office. You shouldn’t expect much from us. After all, you can always count on Boomers to make selfish, counterproductive choices.
I know you’ll do the right thing. I just wish I were around to see it. Meanwhile, I might be a Boomer, but I’m not one of THOSE Boomers. I promise not to call you whiny and entitled as long as you promise not to call me whiny and entitled. Deal?
Leah “Not That Boomer” Mueller
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.