A generation gap… of just one year


Many years ago, I was working in a hospital. One of my co-workers was a good friend, and also a year younger than me.

The place isn’t important. Neither are the job duties. Instead it’s that age difference.

Where we worked, there was just about always a radio playing. The usual setting, as you might expect, was kind of a classic oldies station. Local. Some news. Some weather. And those great songs you grew up with. Even for the songs you don’t consider favorites, the lyrics are etched in the stone of your memory.

One day, my friend and I were walking into the area, and Herman’s Hermits was playing, and I called out to one of the ladies we worked with.

“Second verse. Same as the first.”

“You know it, Bobby,” Paula responded.

“What the heck are you two talking about?” asked Troy.

“The song,” I answered. “‘Henry the VIII, I Am’ by Herman’s Hermits.”

“Henry who?”

It was at that very moment that I realized a line had been drawn. There was a generation gap involving those younger than me.

Paula and I tried to explain to Troy that the song was about a widow that kept marrying guys with the same name. Our efforts didn’t go well. He used that to head off into a conversation about how I always ended up dating girls with the same first name. (Which was, at that time, true. True with a blindingly hysterical run of stories. True to the degree that I eventually vowed to never ask out a girl with that name ever again. The stories of my unfortunate dating experiences, to this day, remain comedy legend.)

We tried to bring him back with thoughts about “I’m into Something Good” and “There’s a Kind of Hush” and more. Didn’t work. Actually fell apart when another friend of ours, a wonderful lady with that kryptonite of a name, came around a corner and sent Troy right back to the first verse of his tangent.

We did end up laughing quite a bit that afternoon. The damage though, had been done.

The scary part wasn’t really that a generation gap existed between me and those younger. No. The scary part was that the line for the start of that gap had been clearly and distinctly drawn less than a year after I was born. That part hurt.

I’d like to say there’s more to the story. Something about being young at heart, even for having an older soul. Something like that, or at least founded on similar nonsense. But it wouldn’t be true.

Instead, it was just my gray hair moment. The immediate realization that I had climbed a few steps on the ladder, and had some age under my feet.

At least when it happened, the soundtrack was pretty good.


If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com