Sunday, 1 December 2013

The Options Generation

"Give a man a fish and you've fed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and, if he turns into a dry-fly catch-and-release angling fanatic up to his liver in icy water wearing ridiculous waders and an absurd hat, pestering trout with 3-pound test line on a $1,000 graphite rod, and going on endlessly about Royal Coachman lures that he tied himself using muskrat fur and partridge feathers…well, at least his life partner is glad to have him out of the house."

-- P. J. O'Rourke on Baby Boomers

The Wall Street Journal comes out about every week with one five-star commentary.  This week, this piece by O'Rourke on baby boomers, and their wrecking affect on modern society.

I read through the entire piece, and kinda agree.

Options.....or rather....too many options, is killing modern society today.

Home projects used to come in limited scales.  You could do a new carport, renovate a bathroom, or update your kitchen....at least back in the 1980s.  Today?  There are several thousand options....brought to you by renovation TV, renovation books, and magazine articles.  Guys will put up sheds in the backyard that house only their prized six-thousand-dollar mower.  Some folks will toss thousands to put up a Amazon Rainforest shower.

Camping used to be simple.  A guy would pull out the $89-tent and associated equipment, then plan a simple three-day trip to some state park four hundred miles away.  Today?  There's a thousand-dollar tent, the forty-thousand-dollar RV, or the fancy trailer....which he totes to a national park which is three states away....planning a mammoth of a camping trip.  Satellite TV?  There's always an antenna on most RVs these days.  Some guys will have two TVs rigged up in an RV.

The wife will say it's time for a vacation.  In 1980....you agreed to drive to Florida and spend four days at some beachside hotel.  Today?  You agree to sign up for a fancy voyage on some cruise ship that will take you to the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica (where you will smoke a lot of weed).

Guitar lessons?  Folks used to accept a few simple lessons from some local guy who knew six tunes, and that was enough for learning purposes.  Today?  You'd have to drive forty miles, accept only lessons from a guy who used to play with Johnny Cash or has a degree in music from Texas Tech.

Grass seed for the front yard?  In 1980, there were likely eight versions down at the local lawn shop in your town.  Gus, the guy at the counter....knew nothing about grass, but always voiced an opinion based on the wording of the package.  Today?  There's forty different grass versions, and some shops might have a hundred types.  Gus has a turf-management degree, and talks for four hours to you about the choice of grass options.

Coke, used to come in Coke....the only version.  Then came Diet Coke.  Today, there's at least fifteen different versions of Coke....including Cherry Coke.

A guy used to wake up at 6AM and have three choices of network early morning news....which all led only to local news for an hour, then some limits on national news for an hour or two.  Today?  There's probably fifteen different early morning options.  You could even watch European business news if you got really challenged, or some Tokyo midnight news updates if you felt really different today.

I agree with O'Rourke.  The trouble is....we aren't going to revert back to old ways.  And I'm not sure we've even hit a peak on options.  Who knows....maybe there are guys who'd jump up in Bama, and go drive for seven days to the boonies of Canada, pitch a three-thousand dollar tent in dense grizzly territory, and accept Canadian beer as an alternate type to Pabst Blue Ribbon.

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