Where do you sit – on the edge of a wave, on the crest, sliding down the back as the height passes, or down in the trough? What on earth am I talking about? Your relationship to population booms and busts. Where do you sit?
Just recently I read The Girls, by Emma Cline. It’s a story of a teenager who becomes part of a group that resembles the cult led by Charles Manson. Very well written, well enough that I wished it had told a longer story. I was brought back quite sharply to my teenage years.
And yet not quite.
In 1969 the protagonist is 14. I was 13 then. Above, I’ve posted a picture I drew in 1970 of me and some friends . When asked to dress up, I still chose Alice in Wonderland. No hot pants, no flag tees. Far too young in attitude to hop in someone’s bus and join a cult.
I had a similar experience watching Mad Men. Sally Draper, people have calculated, was born in 1954. Your humble writer, who is talking an awful lot about herself we must admit, was born in 1956.
Let’s move to the second person.
The baby boom began in 1946 and lasted until 1964. We, the second half, are occasionally called “Generation Jones.” When one is born in the later stages of a boom, one watches. One sees history but does not actually join in. Sure, one visits Haight Ashbury in 1971, but only to say hi to someone’s older brother. One notices that nobody seems to be tidying up the way our mom does. That there don’t seem to be enough places to sit and one cannot understand why. Because we’re 15, not 20.
America had another population boom since the 1950s, the “Baby Boomlet” of the late 80s and 90s. I wonder what this wave will bring, and what artists will do with its thrashings in retrospect? And I wonder about the experience of those born just after, or just before.
The future makes more of us than lessons. We boil down into excellent entertainment. I’ve just watched an Amazon series called Good Girls Revolt. So commercial, as opposed to artistic, that you do wonder why any of the actresses agreed to take their clothes off. Oh well. I digress. It was fun enough.
We have all seen our youth lacquered by television productions, right? Sure, our hair was long in the 60s and early 70s. But it didn’t hang that precisely. Women with waves were tying weights to the end of their ringlets, we lacked styling tools. TV does not celebrate our mistakes.
Or, for the most part, the experience of us younger or older than the interesting wave. That’s OK. Sitting on the observation deck does allow us to keep some secrets.
So, not to belabor the question, where do you sit in relation to population booms? And does that position affect you?
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