Ever get one of those momentary flashes of epiphany that tells you just how old you really are? Earlier this year, my lovely (and dangerous) wife and her six year old niece were with me in my old Firebird when I did something so ordinary it prompted a question from the kid in the backseat:
"Aunt Cindy? What is Bob doing?"
My wife looked over at me as I rolled up the driver's side window with the hand crank, then started to laugh.
Apparently, that was the very first time her niece had seen someone manually "rolling up" a window. She found the whole cranking thing captivating, and as soon as we had parked the car in our driveway and she was released from her car seat, she had to dash around to my door to try it herself.
"Cool!" she exclaimed, cranking the window up and down in amazement.
Of course, the fact that I still owned a car that required physical effort to open or close a window was a bit of an indictment for my hatred of car dealerships and the car purchasing process. I'll drive a car into the dirt before I'll put myself through the new car ordeal with a sleazy salesman. I'd rather have a root canal.
But I digress... We of the window crank generation are looked upon as something quaint to be tolerated. We say odd things... A lunatic wires his apartment to explode if anyone opens the door, and the talking heads on television tell us the place was "booby trapped."
Booby-trapped? I've heard the phrase a million times in my life, but suddenly I'm hearing things with a new curiosity because we've been keeping a child all summer. I had to look it up... Turns out the word "booby" has been used to mean "dunce" since the 17th century, and "booby trap" was originally meant to mean "practical joke." It wasn't until later that the things became deadly and the meaning evolved into what we're hearing on the nightly news these days.
When the Aurora shootings were all over the news, my wife's niece glanced at the coverage and had this to say about the whole deal: "That's messed up."
My thoughts exactly, kid.
But we say bizarre things all the time as if a kid is just expected to know what the hell we're talking about.
"Don't leave the door open! Were you born in a barn?" (which my wife's niece tried to repeat later when I left the door open, and it came out as "Close the door! Were you raised on a farm?"... cute kid...)
"I love this album!" (which a kid hears and instead of thinking "music", thinks photo book)
We look at analog clocks to tell us the time of day, whereas kids will glance at their cell phones or other devices for a digital readout of the time and date. We tie our shoes with actual laces, and the Velcro generation thinks, "How primitive!"
And somewhere out there there's a kid who's never seen anyone actually rolling down a car window and has no idea why we refer to it that way...