We Got the Boom

My sister and I saw Boom last night, a one-man play about the Baby Boomer generation. If you’re in Canada and you have a chance to see it, I’d highly recommend it.

I tend to be both present- and forward-looking, which can mean I see only problems that need to be solved. Watching Boom made me think about my parents, and all they’ve seen and lived through. It made me think about how much I love my parents, and how happy I am for everyone like them. Boom is a love letter to Baby Boomers, and an account of the past.

At one point, Rick Miller plays Steppenwolf’s Magic Carpet Ride, and it brought me back to sitting in the car with my dad. Hearing just a few bars made me so nostalgic, I played it when I got home.

Q: “Are you listening to Steppenwolf?”
Me: “It reminds me of my dad.”
Q: “What?! Your dad listened to Steppenwolf?!”

so sexy
Snakeskin jacket? So sexy! (Note: I have never seen my dad look anything remotely like these men.)

Then we listened to America’s Horse with No Name, because it reminds me of my mom.

I thought, for the first time, seriously, about what it would be like – a whole generation of people being raised by veterans. Sometimes I’ll hear someone describe the Baby Boomer parents as being “the Greatest Generation“, and I think what that phrase implies: a reverence for that group and what they managed to accomplish. While I sometimes frown thinking of endless suburbs, consumerism, and oppressive gender roles, these seem minor compared to ending the holocaust, the civil rights movement, developing oral contraceptives, and putting a man on the moon.

Still, about half a century later, I’ll catch myself thinking: “A real person has walked on the moon!” or: “the birth control pill changed everything.” When I’m feeling sentimental, the scale of those accomplishments will make me cry: they are truly astounding.

I wondered what it would be like to grow up in that shadow, at once beloved, thankful and frustrated. What would it be like, to owe your parents so much, but to still see their shortcomings and to want to make the world a better place?

I suspect this has been a struggle for young people since they walked the earth: How to balance filial piety with societal growth?

I thought about all the lessons my parents taught me, all the values they’ve instilled. The most upset I’ve seen my father was when a) we failed to vote and exercise our democratic responsibility and b) my sister came home pro-life one semester. He was beside himself at her choice of rebellion.¬†She’s pro-choice now.

I look at my parents and their friends, most of whom are still working, and I think of all they’ve done – the huge strides in appreciation for cultural diversity, for women’s equality – and all they could still do. Personal computers, the internet, environmentalism, the end of the cold war, wash-and-wear hair, divorce laws, seat-belts (and other safety devices). We’ve almost eradicated polio, and – of course – the music!

Thanks guys! We are ever grateful!

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