I am writing this in the lobby bar of the Warwick Hotel in Denver, where I am waiting for my colleague, wine editor Emily Pennington, to join me shortly so that we may catch a cab down to watch the first presidential debate between Obama and Romney. Emily is 25 years old, and as I’ve been observing her for the past 24 hours in our travels, she seems as alien to me as some new undocumented species from the Ugandan forest.
She is what demographers call a millennial. She’s never known the world before cellphones or the Internet. In fact, she’s unaware of a lot of inconveniences we 40-somethings had to live with. When I reflect on this, it kind of ticks me off.
Off the top of my head, here are the top 15 things that Emily has never had to deal with:
1. Sitting by a radio for hours to try to tape your favorite songs.
2. Looking up everything in our versions of Google: The Encyclopedia Britannica and The Yellow Pages.
3. Saving a song to two floppy disks.
4. Getting film developed.
5. Having a Sony Walkman with only a fast-forward button and rewinding by having to flip the tape and fast-forward, then re-flip it back to check if it’s in the right place.
6. Buying an entire album to get one good song.
7. Calling a girl’s house and having to speak to her father.
8. Waiting for your sister to get off the phone so you could dial up on the Internet (I didn’t have Internet or a computer until I graduated from college.)
9. Pay phones.
10. Three TV channels (4 if you count PBS).
11. Cartoons only on Saturday mornings.
12. Tinfoil on bunny-ear antennas to get TV reception.
13. Rotary phones (look it up).
14. Liquid paper (look it up).
15. Making plans to meet before you go out.
This is by no means a comprehensive list. I could go on for another eight pages with this tedious compendium. Oh, and here’s the best: having only three beers to choose from, and all of them being light lagers.
Emily is blissfully unaware of any of these inconveniences, and I have to say, I kind of resent her for it. Such a pampered youth was hers. Mine was the last generation to call coffee “coffee,” and we wouldn’t dream of paying more than a dollar for it. At the airport Starbucks, Emily orders a 13-shot venti soy hazelnut vanilla cinnamon white mocha with extra white mocha and caramel. I order a coffee, black.