Damn Millennials! shouts The Boomer, throwing down the TV remote control and spilling my coffee on the diner counter. Are they really so stupid they don’t know what day today is?
It’s Saturday, I say. Put the TV back on. I like watching blow-dried newsreaders in tight outfits who don’t know what they’re talking about.
Don’t pretend you don’t know the date, says The Boomer, furious.
April 9? I ask.
Appomattox Day, says fellow boomer Mandi down the counter. The day Lee surrendered to Grant and ended the Civil War and slavery.
The greatest single day in American history, says The Boomer. But it’s not here on TV or in all these techno-hip electronic newspapers. Not a single word of it!
Millennials aren’t responsible for what’s not in the news, I say, mopping up my spilled coffee.
No, says The Boomer, bitterly, we are. Us. You, me, the whole of our generation.
The Boomer’s right, says Mandi. I got me a kid born on June 6 and all he knows about that date is birthday cake.
The waitress at the counter, a Millennial, pours us all more coffee and says, I know June 6. It’s D-Day, isn’t it?
What’s D-Day, young lady? asks The Boomer, suspicious.
I heard it somewhere, she says, but no one ever told me what it means.
I want to scream! says The Boomer.
Don’t or I’ll have to shoo all you golden oldies out of here, says the waitress. Especially if you keep spilling coffee and leaving stingy tips.
Here’s a tip, says The Boomer. There are five dates in American history you Millennials need to know. I’m going to do for you in two minutes what my generation failed to do for you in twelve years of compulsory public education.
So I can recognize those dates on “Jeopardy!” or in a funny kitty podcast when they come up? says the waitress, full of sass.
July 4, 1776! shouts The Boomer.
Oh, I know that one, says the waitress, I think.
April 9, 1865.
You just told me that one.
August 6, 1945. We dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima.
What’s an atom bomb and why did you have to drop it? says the waitress. And so what?
1968! The Tet Offensive and the defeat that cost us the war in Vietnam.
If you’re going to talk foreign, says the waitress, how do you expect me to understand you?
The Boomer thrusts his empty coffee cup toward her and says, Make it hot and black this time and sweeten it with arsenic, if you please.
I wish I had some of that for all you boomers, she mutters, pouring the coffee. What’s the last date, old man?
The Boomer, nearly exhausted by his educational effort, says, Okay, I’ll lob you a softball – 1972.
The waitress gazes at him waiting for his explanation. The Boomer is too drained to answer.
So I say to her, But you’ve got to know 1972. It’s the year the Jefferson Airplane broke up.
Thomas Jefferson made an airplane? she says, startled. I thought Mr. Boeing invented…
It’s when rock-and-roll died for good, interrupts Mandi down the counter, shaking her head.
No Lady Gaga? says the waitress. No Prince? No Beyoncé? No Taylor Swift? No Bill Withers? No Lou Reed? No Joan Jett? No Pat Benatar? No…
I watch The Boomer sink his face lower and lower toward his coffee cup as though he wants to drown himself in it.
All right, I say to the sassy waitress, the old boy gets your point.
But I like to beat dead horses, she says. And his is the deadest.
You’ve got to admit, says The Boomer, that your generation is the damned ignorantest.
I admit, she says, that every generation of boomers thinks every generation of millennials is too stupid to breathe because they don’t know this or that detail of their own history. And the boomers are right. But the millennials are righter.
How can they be righter? says a puzzled Boomer.
Because every younger generation is righter than the one that went before or we wouldn’t get anywhere.
I’m not so sure we are getting anywhere, says The Boomer.
Oh, and thank you, Boomer, the Millennial says, for winning the Civil War for me and World War II and the Vietnam War and all those other wars since. But we Millennials have got to clean up the mess you left after each one because none of those wonderful things actually got finished, did they?
I suppose not, says The Boomer.
The waitress tops off his cup and says, This is your last free coffee this morning, Boomer, unless you want the arsenic sweetener.
© 2016 Steven Hardesty