While teaching my English class the other day, my students and I were having a warm-up conversation, and one of our “conversation starters” was, “If you could visit any historical period, which one would you choose?”
Now, this is one of my favorite ideas. I kind of hope and/or believe that when you die, you get to go to any place or any time in history, going through a sort of “Greatest Hits of Universal Existence Bonus Round,” as a reward for living a good life. That’d be interesting on quite a few levels. You could get front row seats for the Big Bang, chat with Jesus over a cup of coffee and a game of backgammon, heckle the slaves (or UFOs) building the pyramids, shoot the shit and chase skirt with Ben Franklin, take a dump on Hitler’s pillow while he’s out giving a speech, and you could even sit in a tree in Dallas and say, “Oh, so that’s who shot Kennedy!” At the same time, though, I have a feeling that if there’s a heaven and an afterlife, it’s probably got unimaginable concepts pulled straight from the mind of God and stretched out through the cosmos of creation and un-creation; basically, if you DO get a one-on-one with God after you die, He could probably show you things that’ll make riding on the Mayflower seem as significant as a fart from a squashed cockroach.
So, where am I going with this? It’s a roundabout way of bringing up the topic of Kids These Days. See, I was thinking that one historical period that I might like to see would be the
The more I began to think about this, though, the more I realized that this is a fairly universal theme, and I notice it even more now that I live in Berlín. Berlín is a small, small, small coffee town that makes
But then there’s this: I know that not all of these kids are from Berlín. I know this first of all, because it’s demographically impossible, and second of all, because some grown-ups that currently live in San Ramón have told me that when they were teenagers they used to come up to Berlín to hang out on the side of the road and chat. The conclusion: Berlín might be boring and as mentally stimulating for teenagers as a movie featuring Elizabeth Taylor, but judging by the crowds of budding hillrods hanging out on its curvy roads at night, it’s still better than San Ramón. For me, this idea is both profoundly unsettling and deeply comforting at the same time. Unsettling, because I’m no longer one of those teenagers, so I know that one day those little fuckers might stray onto my lawn, and I’ll have to chase them away while wearing my Technicolor Dreamcoat Robe. Comforting, because now in comparison the
My conclusion? I still don’t know if you get an all-expenses paid trip through the cosmos of history when you die. But I’ll bet if you do, as you find yourself piloting the Millennium Falcon on its final descent towards the construction site of the Egyptian pyramids, you’ll glance to the side and probably notice a group of bored teenagers from
The kids are alright, but they’re certainly bored.