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If There’s One Thing You Can Count On


Except for a portion in the middle, our entire lifetime is about nonstop change. When you’re growing up, it’s all change always; in the middle, while others around you change, things can stay the same for you for a long stretch (enter career burnout); then, without warning, you’re over the crest and there’s a mess of other changes. Some are okay. Most are no good at all.

Some folks are flexible with change. I’m not one of them. I’m accepting in minor ways (flight delays), but not in major ones (wanting children to stay the same age forever). I recently visited my hometown library. It was exactly the same (good) except for more computers (okay) and people gabbing at top volume (bad).  The librarian was loud. A tutor was yelling. A woman pitched a fit with her belongings, unpacking and repacking them noisily. I was frothing and dying to bray at the lot of them, “That’s why God invented Starbucks, you crazy ruders. This is a library!” but I didn’t. New Yorkers blast each other but I’ve been Vermontized (good), so now I can’t (bad).

I couldn’t stand it when The River and WEBK went country years ago; I’m still angry.  WEBK had this stoner-sounding DJ who’d play the Hot Breakfast—a slamming live version of a song—while we non-farmers drove to work.  One day it was Van Halen’s “Feel Your Love Tonight”, a song I’ve never thought about twice. The content is fratty, but oh, the live harmonies!

The River was a truly great radio station and KCRW, fun. I like how country music shuts my brain down but not how it takes over other stations. Country didn’t change for decades (good), but it’s changed a lot in recent years (bad), as have its award shows (sooper bad). Between that, our loss of privacy via creepy surveillance, technological advances we can’t keep pace with, and now—get this—brides-to-be dieting via nasal feeding tubes, the seventh sign of the apocalypse cannot be far off. The seventh sign is reportedly silence, so you’re safe at my hometown library.

Yes, you’ve definitely topped the hill and are skidding down the descending side when (1) noise gets to you and (2) you’re in Shaw’s asking “Who is this ‘Katy Perry’?” with the teen checkers eyeballing you like a squawking, wing-flapping pterodactyl. I can deal with that. What’s vexing is celebrities getting younger. Is he shaving yet? Is kissing legal at her age? Who are these people?

I like Adele, because she cusses and sports her luscious heft without apology. But geez, can’t anyone have a last name any more? Is it a sign of unimportance? There’s someone named, simply, Fantasia? Isn’t that like being called Song of the South? I’m naming my kid Dumbo.  Dumbo’s gonna be huge. I hope it’s a boy.

We went to a multiplex near Manhattan and no one was there (bad). No one’s going to movies! Easy to miss this new development in Vermont, where sparsely-attended movies are common. But in Westchester County, the cultured pearl of NYC suburbia?! Where are her ill-mannered youth threatening to sue each other in the parking lot? Gone to the screening rooms in their McMansions?  (Good!)

As for the McAutomization of Planet Earth, with billers urging us to Go Green because they care deeply [about cutting costs], let’s just automate the crap out of everything.  Have one employee doing it all, with endless recorded “customer service” loops (“Press 666 for a Horseman of the Apocalypse to ride to your house and finish you off.”)

The Olympics are coming. Brace yourself: the athletes are different. Who are these children? Forget the former Olympians (washed up at…25?) pastured out to commentary and well-wishing; where’s Peggy Fleming? That’s who’s supposed to be at the podium, people. Help me out. Switch the channel to Lawrence Welk. I mean Dick Clark. I mean Don Cornelius. I mean that show with the host. The young guy.

If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s change. Terrible, terrible change.  It’s smart to save yourself a ton of grousing and just adapt. After Hurricane Irene pounded my garden last August, I’m white flaggin’ it for a more surefire hobby. A hammock-based activity, perhaps. Like any bad habit, I’ll have to nurture it to make it grow. But that, dear Reader, is a topic for another—and good—day.

Ann Aikens

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