Sunday, November 27, 2005

...And We Walked Uphill Both Ways

So today I'm making lunch for the young lad, as my friend Tracie calls my son, and I realize, as I'm cooking up some quesadillas, that tortillas, by and large, have become a staple in the American kitchen.

Think about it. You go in them thar supermarkets these days, and you can buy all sorts of things. FOREIGN things.

Seriously - it was sort of a revelation to me (which may say more about the condition of my mind than it does about the condition of the American supermarket). But when I was growing up, you didn't just walk in the Winn Dixie and buy tortillas. And if you had asked for them in my hometown, you would have had to deal with Ruby - she of the bouffant hair and the gum stuck back in the left corner of her mouth JUST LIKE SHE LIKED IT so that she could crack it real good when she rang up your groceries - and she would have said, "Hon, what in SAM HILL are you talking about? Tor-till-ahs? Never heard of 'em."

We couldn't buy hummus or tahini or tomatillos or even salsa (it was the 70's - you got taco sauce). The grocery store was the place where Americans bought American food to eat in their American homes with their American families. The End.

Anyway, I thought about the fact that A. will never know a grocery store without tortillas. He will never know a world without Tivo. We had three channels when I was growing up, but my child has access to a hard drive with all his favorite shows on it...not to mention the fact that, at 2 1/2, he knows how to work the remote. He will never know a world without cell phones or computers or DVD players or XBox. Or Xbox 360, for that matter.

And furthermore and on top of that, my husband read an article the other night about coursecasting...which basically means that professors are putting their lectures online, and students download Podcasts so they can hear whatever was said that day in class. All I could think was that if that particular brand of technology had been available in the late 80's / early 90's, my friends and I would have NEVER made it to class. Daph would've still gone - because she loves knowledge - and EK would've gone because she would've never figured out how to get the coursecast off of the internet and would've found it MUCH easier to just do things the old-fashioned way. Elise and I, on the other hand, would've not only found a way to download the lectures, we'd also have found a way to turn a profit. Because we're industrious like that.

So all of these things - tortillas, coursecasts, etc. - make me wonder about what kind of world Boo will live in twenty years down the road. Will he just have some sort of chip in the side of his head so that people can beam information at it? Will he have some sort of permanent earpiece that's a smaller version of those cell phone wrap-around-your-ear things that I just despise? Will his cell phone be able to perform light cooking and cleaning duties in addition to being, you know, a PHONE?

But here's the biggest revelation I had after my thoughts of tortillas: my son will pity me. He will pity me because I didn't have the same conveniences. Just like I pitied my parents for not having push-button telephones and color television when they were growing up. And I can't help but imagine him rolling his eyes at me when I try to explain that, when mama and daddy were children, computer monitors only had AMBER LETTERS - there was NO OTHER COLOR. And him looking at me all incredulous-like when I say that we had to GO SIT IN A DESK and use PEN and PAPER because there were no coursecasts or laptops or cell phones that could cook a casserole.

Yet in this moment, on this fine fall afternoon, I am comforted by one essential piece of information: Alex is about to wake up from his nap, and when he does, he will want my undivided attention. Technology can do a lot, you see, but it can't replace mamas and daddies being there when you wake up. Or when you fall down. Or when you need a shoulder to cry on. There are some needs that reach beyond the realm of coursecasts on the college campus and tortillas in the supermarket.

And for that, I am thankful.


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