As I’m surrounded by a plethora of teenagers these days – at work and at home, I’m realizing that I am increasingly becoming entirely elderly as I reference ways and terms of the past – being met by confusion, bewilderment, curiosity.
I mentioned “ditto machines” the other day – and may as well have been speaking Dumi, a language spoken in Nepal by about eight people. In that moment, I realized that a word in my old school lexicon had faded, deeply faded.
Maybe I’m just getting nostalgic, transforming into Andy Rooney. Maybe it’s just the realization that it really is the 21st Century. Really. The 70s, the 80s, the 90s, have left the building. And while they may resurface in Market Basket muzak and Nick at Nite, it’s time to move on.
Growing up, I think of my own parents struggling for words, for vocabulary that would reach their children – when they referenced, “Ice Box” – we’d laugh. “Oh, come on, Mom – it’s fridge, dude.” When I’d ask for a phone number, it was met with numbers, “RE- 591-76.” Yesterday, I watched as my daughter’s friend tried to dial a phone – asking her how she would dial 911 on the powder blue rotary phone I keep for décor. It took her at least 10 minutes. And had I asked her to dial with letters only, it may have taken 20.
Last week, a woman I met told me of her new dog, a Labradoodle. She remarked, “It’s a mutt.” Hmmm. I do know a Labradoodle is a cross breed with a Labrador and a Poodle, my sense of “mutt” definition is somewhat different. In my world, a mutt is that dog of doubtful pedigree, a mongrel, a mixture of breeds of which no one is entirely sure. Our own dog, Sir Luc of Kentucky, arrived from the south. We say he is a border collie, Labrador mix. In truth, no idea – we just know, of course, that he is the best dog in the world.
Going old school has its perks. I still love a handwritten note – both the writing of one and the receiving of one. I still admire lovely penmanship, the curls and the twists and the uniqueness of someone’s scribe. I still love addressing a card and placing a stamp on it – but I am grateful I do not have to lick that stamp, taste that glue – that is the old school of which I do not miss.
And, truly, so much of progress really is phenomenal. It’s lovely to have GPS, lovely to write this column without a typing ribbon, white out, stuck keys. It’s lovely to have a “delete” button – a button I never spotted on my Smith Corona. And, it’s indeed stellar to call 911 in less than 10 minutes.
Enjoy your own joyful musings of old school, ditto machines, rotary phones and mutts. And enjoy a wonderful week with the perfect balance of old school and 21st century progress.
Susan Dromey Heeter, a writer from Dover who recently let her hair go au natural white, debuts her new column “Joyful Musings” at InDepthNH.org. Dromey Heeter is a secondary Spanish Teacher at Dover High School and the mother of two teenage daughters. Writing has been her passion since her English majoring days at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Dromey Heeter has lived in The Netherlands, Alaska and currently basks in all things New England, including the frigid winters. An avid swimmer, Dromey Heeter’s great passion is to bring back body surfing as most children have no idea how to ride waves without ridiculous boogie boards. She also writes about thrift shopping and all things frugal in a column called “Budget Vogue” for the New Hampshire Union Leader.