Thursday, August 11, 2011

My Grandfather's History

My grandfather took our family out for dinner Tuesday, and, as we sat in the restaurant, for whatever reason, history aggressively caught my attention. Maybe it was because I had just finished Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything Is Illuminated that day or because I've been watching Ken Burns: Baseball and just made it to the 1900s, but I stared at my grandfather as he told a story about his last trip to Vegas and all I could think was, "How the hell are you not bored right now?"

I thought about his personal history and how it intertwined with everyone's history. As he made a life in the foreground, what was blasting behind him in the background? He was born in the spring of 1928, so let's just consider a few things...

His first crush came during the Great Depression, his teenage rebellion came during World War II, he became an adult and served in Korea, bought a house when America built the suburbs, raised kids in the wild times of the '60s, watched his oldest son get married during the disco era, grew old in the most obnoxious decade ever and feared the technology breakdown of the next century as someone who had seen most of the 20th Century.

I mean, it was some muggy-weather summer evening in 2011 and we were in some tacky lounge eating steak (well, I had a potato) with cheap mirrors and some leftover "happy birthday" sign on the wall. This place was beneath him! Shit, the man was alive when the stock market crashed! He was born before Hemingway said a farewell to arms! He saw the first mushroom cloud and voted for Truman! He already knew how the world worked when Kennedy was shot!

When I was 13, the biggest deal was Clinton getting head in the oval office by a frumpy intern. When he was 13, fucking...Hitler was in power and trying to take over the whole goddamn world!

And I wondered if my grandkids would stare at me one day. I wondered if, as I'm trying to explain to them something as remodeling a swimming pool, they'll stare at me and wonder how I'm not bored. They'll write some dumb shit online (or whatever they have then) about how I got my driver's license around the September 11th Attacks or how I was taking a nap in a park when I heard Michael Jackson died. They'll freak out about me seeing Avatar twice in theaters, 2D with my brother and 3D with a pretty girl. They'll want to hear about my entire elementary school listening to the OJ Simpson verdict on boomboxes during lunch time. They'll talk about how I was barely getting into music when Tupac, Biggie and Kurt Cobain died. They'll have me explain to them time and time again how I did any homework before the internet, how I remember my family's first computer and how I couldn't think of a single thing to do the first time I signed online.

They'll want to know about my history, and they'll stare at me like I've gone through hell, and all I'll want is for them to pass me the goddamn salt and pepper.


Anonymous said...

You never looked at me that way.

Jake Kilroy said...

That's because you were probably uninteresting, Anonymous.