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Get real already! (05/16/2004)
By Janet Lewis Burns

Your mother would turn over in her grave! It's amazing what us Baby Boomers don't do for ourselves anymore. You weren't raised to be so highfalutin and hotsy-totsy!

"Humans need not apply." It seems our lives are directed and disciplined by buzzers, beepers, blinking lights, buttons and glitches. (That's apart from screeching demands of the young calling the shots.) Christmastime kudos gift lists have reached monstrous proportions, adding the new cleaning lady you've never even met, that friendly grocery bagger, and your yoga instructor.

Back when we built our home, I refused any and all newfangled gadgets. I recall calling a can opener a luxury, for Pete's sake. No garbage disposal, ice maker, or central vac for this practical gal! The microwave was my first taste of crow. Pat and the kids, teens at the time, simply brought home a microwave, handed me the instruction book, and left me to my stewing. Simply elementary - how did I ever get along without it?!

Behind the times, I began to question my cockeyed logic. More than one TV is only humane; those remote battles can divide a family in a hurry. Before the steam iron, I dampened the laundry with that sprinkler head stuck in a pop bottle. Get a clue! Now I don't buy anything that requires ironing. I kept hair rollers and lace church scarves in my bathroom closet for years, just in case.

Pat got my dander up by taking down my clothesline. When I ranted about it, he pointed out that it hadn't been out there for two years. Oops! I used to feel guilty about using Rhodes frozen bread dough. Now you can buy the man of the house a "bread maker" and a Swiffer floor cleaner, and everybody's happy.

Some things are best left as they've always been. I still do some scratch cooking and baking. With just the two of us, it's a piece of cake! The gals of our family shy away from recipes (requested by their hubbies) for my homemade stuffing, bean soup, apple pie, ham and molasses gravy, and Mother's never-fail, 7-minute angel food frosting. Yes, you really have to toil over a double boiler with a hand mixer for seven minutes!

I now know that a "touchless car wash" is user-friendly. The first time I forced myself to use one I was a nervous wreck. What if I get stranded in there, the vacuum of steam and hot water noisily entombing me? Where's everybody! I later realized, you'd have to be a ninny to screw up with the "one direction fits all."

Pat has cultivated patience with "some assembly needed" nightmares. I read the directions as he chooses to ignore me, because "a man just knows these things!" The Moravian Christmas star was the worst! With its many, various-sized points, each piece has its definite place. After several painstaking attempts, it evolved into a serene, holy night star (which is stored away each year fully assembled).

I had stubbornly argued that doing bookwork the tried and true way was just as efficient (by gosh and by golly). It was the Microsoft Word program, in the cozy computer center Pat designed for me, downstairs by the gas fireplace, that inducted me into the world of computer literacy. Peachtree business programs, at my two office jobs, have given me more duff time. It was a hard row to how...but I have gratefully stopped whining!

Once one gets a taste of luxury and pampering, it can lead to the bratty "I want" syndrome. I guess we women can't complain. We could be pounding laundry on rocks, suffering the stigma of frizzy home perms, lugging the garbage out to the pigpen, and cranking the jerky, sputtering tin lizzie.

It's time I ditched those unredeemed, yellowed Betty Crocker coupons for silverware. Oh, yah, anybody need ten sets of cufflinks, eight tie clasps, a red bow tie, and a pants stretcher?

Keep the past alive...just a few more keystrokes. Carpe diem! 


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