NOTE: As I approach my 70th birthday, I’ll reprise a milestone post here each day until the end of May. Today – from August 24, 2006
OK – so I should be used to it by now. I’ve been — as I often say, a walking demographic Baby Boomer as long as I can remember. But on this morning after the re-opening of THE FANTASTICKS* – which ran off-Broadway for 42 years, I read “adults 55+ adapting online.” Of course they are — sooner or later whatever I’m doing becomes part of a generational wave.
Don’t worry – there IS a connection.
I saw THE FANTASTICKS with my college room mate and her mother during fall vacation of my freshman year. That was 1964 – four years after it opened. At the end, all of 18, I was crying so hard that the woman sitting next to me – probably 25 or so – handed me the rose her date must have given her at dinner. I kept it on the wall of my room for years.
El Gallo — the irresistible seducer and originator of the “hurt’ without which “the heart is hollow” — was first played by Jerry Orbach. [hear him sing Try to Remember here.] I met him when I was close to 50 – and told him I’d seen the show when I was 18. His face just changed – not a trace of Lennie Briscoe but a combination of affection, nostalgia and pleasure. We spoke a bit more and then I apologized for approaching him at a reception and acting like a groupie. He replied “You saw the Fantasticks when you were EIGHTEEN! That wasn’t an interruption that was a pleasure.” So I guess the story had the same impact on the cast that it had on girls like me. “Please God please,” the young girl (“the girl”) cries out – “don’t let me be NORMAL!” That was me alright. Please let me be singular – not like the others!
Well it hasn’t turned out that way. Whatever I come to, my peers hit within a year or so. It made me a great talk show producer – never a visionary too far ahead to be relevant, just enough ahead to know what story to do next. I guess that’s why I accommodated to my role as close enough to normal but with an edge — rather than the downtown woman I had once wished to be.
I know about this headlong Boomer journey online because my older son, in the industry, had read a similar study. Last weekend I told him that I seemed to be getting a lot more online consulting work and his theory was that companies need boomer consultants more because more “civilian” boomers are finally hitting the web. I always knew we would; the tribe that is the baby boom loves to be connected. The web was a perfect home for us. Just like THE FANTASTICKS.
*OK Feminist friends, there’s an element of sexism in this original fairy tale (they’ve rewritten the only really troubling song) but I have chosen to ignore it. It just can’t trump the wonder and poetry.