Baby Boomer on Board*
Hey, I’m all for ways in which the Commonwealth of Massachusetts can extract a few coins by taxing or charging for purely discretionary things. Like taxes on alcohol and cigarettes. And - once I get past weighing the morality of duping people who can ill afford $10 scratch tickets vs. giving people some hope that they, too, can get rich quick – even the lottery.
But I’m not wild about special-interest license plates, mainly because I like each state having its own unique, instantly recognizable license plate. Not that Massachusetts has ever had anything particularly memorable or interesting. Massachusetts’ state-plate boringness aside, I like that instant recognition thing you used to get when you saw the Wyoming cowboy on the bucking bronco, or Maine’s lobster (much better, IMHO, than the nuthatch-on-pine cone or the duck).
Anyway, Massachusetts has a new license plate trick up its sleeve.
Sarah Peake, a state rep from P-town, is proposing that the state issue a special plate, “commemorating” the Baby Boom generation as a means to raise money to defray the cost of the elder services we’ll be sucking up and down once we retire.
Personally, this doesn’t exactly make me want to run out and buy myself (another) Beetle. Or a little GTO. Or a Mustang, Sally. Or a fun, fun, fun T-Bird. (Maybe an Edsel…) If nothing else, who wants to be the butt of all the anti-Boomer nastiness that will be floating around if and when The Commonwealth announces a contest soliciting ideas for what should be on the plate?
On the other hand, I just might enter that contest. After all, the possibilities are nearly as endless as the wave of squalling Boomers produced between 1946 and 1964. (Note to classifiers: I bet there’s not a person alive born after 1960 who would characterize himself or herself as a Baby Boomer. Just sayin’…)
And speaking of Baby Boomers, it’s not just those post-1960 tail-enders who experienced a different Boom than the the rest of this vast cohort. In fact, the Baby Boomer demographic is so huge, so longitudinally and latitudinally diverse, that it’s pretty much impossible to throw us all into one bucket.
For everyone who crossed the border into Canada to evade the draft, there was someone worrying about whether he was coming back from ‘Nam in a body bag. For every nascent feminist refusing to shave her legs, there was someone poring over Brides Magazine and planning the perfect wedding. For everyone who inhaled (or not) there was an Animal House keg-meister. For every privileged sorority girl there was someone working her way through a community college and someone else joining the steno pool right out of high school.
My sister Trish is ten years younger than I am. I didn’t go to Woodstock; she didn’t go to Studio 54.
With the caveat that no one thing will represent all of us Boomer, I will put some license plate suggestions out there. Let’s see:
Howdy Doody, Mouseketeer Ears, Davey Crockett caps, Converse High-Tops, Bucky Beaver. Or the Crest kid: Look, Ma! No cavities!
Ed Sullivan introducing Elvis. (No, he wasn’t one of us, but we all knew who he was. That goes for Ed Sullivan and Elvis.)
A bicycle with baseball cards clipped to the wheels with clothespins. A roller-skate key. A Tiny Tears doll. A Slinky. Clue.
Plaid (or Lassie) lunch-box.
Kids doing duck-and-cover.
A family with a bunch of kids having a picnic on Dad’s old Army/Navy/Marines blanket. (Ours was a Navy blanket: cream with a navy blue stripe across the top.) Mom = Donna Reed. Dad = Ward Cleaver, or Jim Anderson (even though his kids, other than Kitten, weren’t exactly Baby Boomers. Unlike Wally and The Beave.)
A bunch of women pushing baby carriages, toddler hanging on to her skirt. All the women = Donna Reed.
Even though it’s not in Massachusetts, an overhead shot of Levittown.
Or a shot of a block full of 1950’s, VA mortgage, ticky-tacky houses – each with a colossal TV antenna tethered to the roof.
Pinky Lee in a duel with Soupy Sales. (Soupy wins. He was cool.)
A Tricker Treater going out as a beatnik or Fidel Castro.
Fast forward a few years. The license plate could feature surfer jams. Penny loafers. Madras. Circle pins. Ed Sullivan introducing the Beach Boys.
A stack of LP’s. A bunch of girls hanging around with their hair in rollers.
Ed Sullivan introducing the Beatles. Ed Sullivan introducing the Stones.
A plastic wheel containing a month’s supply of The Pill.
‘Don’t trust anyone over 30.’ (Those were the days!)
A marijuana leaf and the motto, ‘Don’t bogart that joint, my friend.’
A Yellow Submarine.
The poster from Woodstock.
The Peace Sign. (And you kids think you invented chuck a deuce.)
A Medevac chopper saving (hopefully) some grunt.
A burning draft card. A burning bra.
I’ve got it.
Given what I anticipate will be a tremendous reluctance on the part of our cohort to pass from the stage, and journey on to the Great Be-In In the Sky, how about:
Hell, no, we won’t go!
And remember, the medium is not necessarily the message.
*Honestly: I really did think of this post title before I saw the article on Boston.com.