I’d mention 9/11 today, but I don’t want to show my age

Hey, remember when this old movie came out? It was the same year the Iraq War started — and yet it was in COLOR!

Yes, you are meant to laugh at that headline. I certainly did, at the thing that made me write it.

I’m not used to laughing right out loud while walking down a quiet street, but this time I did.

Speaking again of NYT podcasts, I’m also fond of Ezra Klein’s programs, and had fallen behind on them. So while walking in the neighborhood a couple of days ago, I listened to this one from Aug. 15: “This Conservative Thinks America’s Institutions ‘Earned’ the G.O.P.’s Distrust.”

It was pretty good, and most of it wasn’t funny. But part of it was.

Remember my recent post about the accelerating acceleration of our sense of time as we grow older? I was trying at that time to remember some examples of the absurd (to me, and what other perspective do I have?) things I hear young people say. I wish I’d had this one to mention.

Ezra was out, and his substitute was Jane Coaston, who is currently the host of a podcast I used to listen to, “The Argument.” And she did fine, until she got to the point of saying something about recent current events.

What she said began with, “I’m old enough to recall the events that led up to the Iraq War…”

I didn’t just laugh out loud when that came through my hearing aids (which Bluetooth allows me to use like earbuds), it was a kind of sharp, piercing sound that carries. I stopped immediately, and glanced about to see if I had any neighbors standing stock-still out in their yards, staring at the demented hyena.

Fortunately, I did not.

When I was listening, I didn’t realize who the substitute interviewer was. When I looked back at the transcript just now to see, I thought I would check out Jane Coaston’s LInkedIn page, and while I don’t know her age, she received her bachelor’s degree in the same year that my newspaper career ended after 35 years. (For the sake of you young folks, that was about four years after I started this blog.)

So the difference in time perception is perfectly understandable. And as I say, she did a fine job overall. But she would have done better not to have expressed the reference to her memory quite that way. Usually people use that rhetorical construction when they mean, “I remember back this far, so you should trust my experience and wisdom.” But what she communicated was, This kid is so young she thinks that was a long time ago…

Anyway, if anyone wants to offer memories of 9/11 today, you could do it here. But beware — if you have personal memories of it, that might make you even older than Jane, and folks may start offering to help you cross the street….

6 thoughts on “I’d mention 9/11 today, but I don’t want to show my age

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    To be VERY clear… once again, Jane Coaston did a fine, professional job overall, and so did her interlocutor, Mary Katharine Ham. Very much worth listening to.

    That one small thing was just such a perfect illustration of how we differently we alter cockers perceive time, so I had to mention it.

    But thinking back, I’m reminded of one thing I don’t like about podcasts. Sometimes, I get confused about who’s talking — since it’s just audio, and you can’t see who’s speaking.

    At one point, I got confused about which of these intelligent young women was speaking, and had to back up a couple of minutes to get reoriented. Neither had any particularly distinctive pattern of speaking, or accent, or anything that could help me. I had to separate them by their views.

    I had the same problem with that podcast I wrote about earlier today. When I heard him on The Argument years back, Ross Douthat sounded different enough in pitch from David Leonhardt that my ear could easily distinguish them. But he sounds too much like Carlos Lozada now. Dang it — Lozada is Peruvian! The least he could do is have an accent…

    I have the same problem with the two women on that show, Michelle Cottle and Lydia Polgreen. Would it be too much to ask for one of them to affect a heavy case of vocal fry?…

  2. Doug T

    I suppose I shouldn’t mention what I was doing when I heard of JFK’s assassination.

    We should all remember the victims of 9/11. World Trade spot is on my bucket list to visit. Maybe PA site also.

  3. Doug Ross

    I was working at the USPS headquarters in L’Enfant plaza in D.C. on 9/11. I was teaching a class on a software application in had developed to USPS employees. Someone came into the class in the morning and said we had to evacuate because the WTC and Pentagon had been attacked I headed down to the metro station in the basement hoping to get a train to Reagan airport to get home. No chance. Every train was packed as it came into the station. After awhile I heard no flights would be going out so I started walking back to my hotel near the national Mall. Looked to my left and saw a plume of smoke coming from what I learned was the Pentagon later on. Got back to the Marriott I had checked out of that morning and asked to check back in. The clerk told me I could check in but the rate was double because they were booked up that night.. she didn’t realize nobody would be coming into DC that day. I spent the next two days in the hotel watching CNN, eating room service until some co-workers from Raleigh drove up and picked me up and drove me back to Raleigh where my car was.

  4. Ken

    The phrase “I’m old enough to remember” has become hackneyed and kind of code for “I’m the mature one here.”
    It has reached retirement age and needs to be put out to pasture.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      “has become.”

      It’s always meant that. And as such, it has enormous value, and will certainly not be retired on this blog. If you want to comment on a blog where it HAS been retired, go do so.

      I’d rather have commenters here who can appreciate the humor in someone saying it about something absurdly recent. Not people who are trying their best to see how much they can get away with, slipping just a bit more dripping disdain into each comment, to see if THIS one will be approved.

      I assure you, the next one will not…


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