I, Gen X, Am Telling You Everything Was Twenty Years Ago

The 1980s were twenty years ago. That’s just how it is. Don’t give me “math” or “logic” or “you have early onset whatchamacallit.” We won’t be convinced by your so-called “facts.” We are Gen X; we’ve committed our entire lives to not committing to anything.

I do recognize that the 80s are in the past. I’m not an idiot. But they are only twenty years in the past. Everything from my young adulthood onwards is twenty years ago, and it’s the same for everyone of my generation. At least I’m pretty sure it is; we’re not great at keeping in touch. Sometimes we Facebook.

U2 releases The Unforgettable Fire? Twenty years ago. The fall of the Soviet Union? Definitely twenty years ago. This town that I’ve lived in for thirty years? I moved here twenty years ago.

It’s not simply that everything is twenty years ago now. It’s always been twenty years ago. In the 90s, the 80s felt like twenty years ago. Between the 80s and the 90s, people in my age group became mature, responsible adults (cough-cough-“sellout!”). So much changed we barely recognized ourselves, mostly because that’s when we started needing glasses. Surely that much change could only happen over a span of twenty years.

When the 2000s came around, the 80s were almost definitely twenty years ago. It’s well documented, look it up. I also know this because we would regularly mope around and say, “Wow, I can’t believe Chernobyl, the Challenger explosion, the debut of Phantom of the Opera and ‘Hands Across America’ happened twenty years ago,” because we Gen X like to regularly remind ourselves that 1986 was kind of the worst.

After that, the 80s just kept being twenty years ago.

So why is this? I think it’s because when my generation was growing up in the 80s (twenty years ago), the 60s were twenty years ago, if you follow my math—and by now I don’t blame you if you don’t. We Gen X kids loved the 60s. We really wished we had lived through the 60s because our era, in a word, sucked.

Gen X kids were born in the revolutionary 60s and 70s but we were too young to enjoy it. Our Baby Boomer siblings got The Beatles and bell bottoms; we got “BJ and the Bear.” We were even too young to get into proper discos, which is pathetic on so many levels. This was totally bogus.

Twenty years before the sixties were the forties, and that was a whole other period of cultural upheaval. So much happened in both those twenty-year intervals that I think the concept of revolutionary change created a certain level of expectation on our mushy, poorly supervised Gen X brains of what the next twenty years would bring. If the boomers successfully marched for civil rights, surely we would have jetpacks, shrink rays and easy-open cereal bags.

We didn’t get any of that. Instead, when you think of the major changes that did happen from the 80s to the present… well, there’s the internet, I guess. Cell phones and social media, okay. We kind of hate everyone a lot more, sure. But none of that has felt like a revolutionary shift. It’s all just sort of crept up and absorbed us like a proper, all-consuming alien life form should.

Memory is never about accuracy anyway but about subjective impressions. And, whether accurate or not, it feels as though as much (and maybe less) has changed between the 80s and the present as between the 60s and the 80s. Therefore, if you allow that twenty years is the standard rate of cultural change, then it only makes sense that, with less evident cultural change, the 80s must still be only twenty years ago.

So is absolutely everything twenty years ago? On the contrary. Most things that happened within the past twenty years actually happened much sooner. 9/11? That was ten years ago. Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love”? A fairly recent hit. Barack Obama first elected president? Feels like only yesterday. Stephen Harper first elected prime minister? We’ve wiped that entirely from our memory.

The question is, will the 80s always be twenty years ago to Gen X? It’s hard to predict but I think it’s possible because, speaking on behalf of my generation, we’re all convinced we’re only 45.

Posted in It Really Did Happen! | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments

And Now for Something Slightly Serious…

I’m not the literary magazine sort. That should be fairly obvious. But recently I answered a call to submit to the online magazine FontThe call was limited to members of the Quebec Writers’ Federation, and I am one of those. QWF feels like the Montreal Writers Federation most of the time. That’s only natural; that’s where most of the province’s English writers live and where the organization’s activities take place (although they’ve embraced Zoom, as who among us hasn’t).

So I was very pleased to be accepted in the monthly issue on the theme “Writers in Complex Times,” and even more happy to speak from the perspective of a writer from (as they say) “the regions” and what that means.

Two days before Christmas, I went to the pharmacy. I can say “the pharmacy” and mean it because where I live there is only one pharmacy. There’s “the pharmacy,” “the daycare,” “the bank.” When I moved to Stanstead thirty years ago, there were five banks in what was then referred to as The Three Villages. Now we’re all one village with only one bank. There were eight churches when I arrived. You can’t quite say “the church” yet, but check with me later.

While at the pharmacy, I came across a lone copy of my novel, A Hole in the Ground. It sat on a shelf of miscellany beside combination coin purse/key ring sets and a pack of tea lights. I self-published the novel in 2016, and it looks like it. Pro-tip: never design your own book cover. The image looks like algae soup. That’s because it is algae soup, and there’s a turtle in there, covered in algae. A lot of green.

Read more from my essay, “Visiting My Book at the Pharmacy” via the link below:

QWF Writers in Complex Times

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World Funny Shortage Getting Serious

Comedy writer Axel Loffmann thought it was just him. Maybe he was going through a dry period. But when Loffmann asked around the comedy community (Schenectady), he started hearing the same thing over and over: they were all out of jokes.

“I’ve warned people for years that we were facing a funny shortage, but they all laughed,” says Loffmann. “Well, who’s laughing now? Literally no one.”

It’s difficult to quantify the exact decline in funny in recent years because nobody takes this stuff seriously. But observers have seen plenty of anecdotal evidence pointing to a global comedy shortfall.

“If we look at the number of banana peels produced, that has remained consistent over time,” says ecomicist Gretchen Smakbautum, whose name has plummeted in comic value in recent months. “But the number of people slipping on said banana peels is rapidly approaching zero.”

According to Smakbautum, there have been no documented funny things since December 27, 2022 when Grandma’s dentures got clobbered by the ceiling fan. “Since then, squat,” said Smakbautum, who then proceeded to recite an entire Monty Python sketch, which was funny in high school but now just sad. Continue reading

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How to Avoid Gym Injuries

Every year, over 10,000 Canadians suffer gym-related injuries, a figure that is as astounding as it is entirely fabricated. 

In truth, no one knows exactly how many Canadians are injured at the gym because Canadians are notoriously reluctant to put anyone out, even when their femur is protruding like a broken parking meter, preferring instead to walk it off and have a strong cup of tea.

But gym injuries do occur. Statistically, the more time you spend at the gym, the more likely you are to suffer some kind of injury. Gym enthusiasts – or as they often refer to themselves, “muscle heads” – claim that the more time you spend learning to use gym equipment properly, the safer you will be. But those “beef necks” don’t take into the account that the more time you spend in one spot, the ever-increasing likelihood of that spot being hit by a stray meteorite. That’s just science. Or possibly math. Astronomy?

Thankfully, there is a sure-fire method to 100 percent avoid gym-related injuries and that is to 100 percent avoid the gym.

You too can have abs of sand.

I, for instance, have never pulled a glute or crumpled a quadbecause I have methodically followed a lifelong regime of staying far away from gyms, except that one time at university when I took one peek in weight room and decided, “Nah, rather stay skinny.” 

Avoiding the gym sounds easy at first blush. But there’s no need to go red in the face like that, no cause for embarrassment, you flabby-waisted beauty you. 

Anyway, it isn’t easy. Avoiding the gym takes practice, commitment and an acceptance of who you are as the soft-ishhuman being God made you. 

Here, then, are some steps you can take to avoid the gym, gym injuries and Jim, that sweaty guy in Lycra with the bulging ventricles. 

Before you avoid going to the gym, it’s important to warm up. If there is a gym near you, start by walking briskly towards the gym and then turning and walking briskly the other way. Look out for traffic in your brisk turning, as distracted drivers are even more statistically likely than errant meteorites. 

Get closer and closer to the gym daily until you are at the door, at which point you will walk past it. Congratulations! You have avoided the gym. 

You also need strong will power. Very often, a “friend” will come up to you and say, “Yo, bro, wanna smack some curl-squats? Rep some lifts? Bench a few weight bands?” Oh that Jim! The key to this is to say, “No. I do not.” Accompany this with a firm “stop” hand gesture. Note that in making this gesture, it may be necessary to support your string-bean arm with your other hand.

What to wear to avoid the gym? Ideally, you want something comfortable and loose-fitting. Pyjamas, basically. Nothing guarantees gym-avoidance quite like the inertia rendered by immediately stepping into your pyjamas at the end of theworkday. Pyjamas on? You are in for the night. In like no gym. 

It’s easy to get discouraged when you first start avoiding the gym. The key is to break old habits and establish new ones. If you’ve already been going to the gym, start by avoiding the gym occasionally and then avoiding it more and more. Soon enough you’ll be avoiding the gym altogether. Luckily you are human with a natural inclination to behave exactly like everyone else who has ever bought a gym membership. 

And it’s not just the gym! The same principles can be applied to avoiding sports injuries, running injuries and shopping injuries, which are more common than you think (unless you think they are extremely common, in which case you have over-estimated their likelihood, you silly goose). 

Remember, you can’t spell “gym injury” without a “y,” as in “Y are you going to the gym?” You also need an “m,” as in “M not going to the gym; there are meteorites there!” And of course“jury,” which is a body of your peers, and your body “a-peers”to be just fine as is!

What was I saying? 

Oh, yes. Keep working at avoiding the gym and you’ll be avoiding it all the time in no time. Remember: the key to success is repetition, repetition, repetition – much like the jokes in this post.

Posted in It Could Happen... | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

A Message From My Children’s Homemade Cards

Whoa, whoa, whoa! What do you think you’re doing there, guy? We’re your children’s homemade greeting cards. You weren’t going to throw us out, were you?

Let’s not do anything rash. That’s right, put the papers down. Yes, we realize you haven’t looked at us in 15 years and you just happened to stumble upon us while clearing out a dresser drawer. But come on, man! Look at that flower! Or maybe it’s a tree. Yes, see? It reads “The Tree of Love!!!”

The Tree of Love, man! You can’t throw away the Tree of Love!

Sure, we’re essentially clutter. Sure, your children made us at school, likely under duress. Here’s one, for instance, where your daughter appeared to be struggling to meet a specific word count:

Dear Dad,
Today is a special day for you, I don’t know why it’s today but I’m glad it’s today because for a person like you, you deserve a special day! So today I want you to know that you’re my favorite dad in the hole universe! Happy Fathers Day!

In case you’re wondering, the special day is today and it’s special. Continue reading

Posted in Family - whadya gonna do?, It Really Did Happen! | Tagged , , , , , | 18 Comments