Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Annual list proves many of us are quite old

By Rick Morris

It's that time of year again. The Beloit College Mindset List has just been issued for the tenth year. No doubt, you've received this list previously via email spam from your friends -- it's the one with the theme that reads something like "This year's incoming college freshmen have never ..."

Personally, I started to feel a bit old the year that the list indicated that incoming college freshmen would not have had knowledge of an Atari 2600. That was a staple of my youth! But like many other people in their thirties, the list just rubs more salt in the wound each year. This year, a major theme of the list is that incoming college freshmen did not grow up in a world with the Berlin Wall or, more broadly speaking, the Cold War. Now, as a child of the Cold War and someone whose geopolitical references were framed by it (in a reactionary manner, naturally!), that's depressing enough.

But no Berlin Wall? I remember as though it were yesterday November 9, 1989, watching the wall come down while pounding celebratory vodka with a great friend and fellow college right-wing firebrand -- today known as Ohio's finest public policy and legal expert, Scott Pullins. If memory serves correctly, that was also the night (during Sweeps Month, naturally) that the Cheers episode aired in which Carla's husband got killed by a runaway Zamboni. Unfortunately, after the Cheers and Berlin Wall revelry was done, I still had to go work an overnight shift at the school newspaper with a whole lot of 80-proof vodka in my system. Suffice it to say, that's the kind of youthful mistake you only make once! Scott, who got to sleep off his fun immediately, was smarter than me even back then.

Clearly, I have vivid memories of that great moment in time, but now those images are tainted by the unmistakable fact that I am now "the old guy who remembers the way it was back then." I'm sure I'll get over it -- until next August when the list comes out and says that incoming college freshmen never knew a world in which we weren't at odds with Saddam Hussein.

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