Calaveras Enterprise

The Examined Life: Try to keep up with The Times

A wedding brought me to Palm Springs in March and because the rehearsal isn’t until late this afternoon, you’ve caught me sitting by the pool and lost in thought. Not lost so much as ever so slightly discouraged. I’ve saved the Sunday crossword for an opportune time and while the opportunity has come, my words that cross are ready to leave.

I suppose I should have seen it coming. After all, the world is changing and many of the words that describe that change have come into existence just as my own exit grows inevitably closer.

For instance, look at 40 down: “My Chemical Romance and others.” What the … is this a book I’ve never read or a movie I’ve never seen? No, I discovered after working the neighboring clues that it’s an example of an “emo band.” An emo band? I stop my scribbling and soon discover that My Chemical Romance and others are musical groups whose roots can be found in “the hardcore punk movement of Washington, D.C.” Who would have guessed? Which is precisely my point.

At 38 across is “1999 rom-com based on Shaw’s ‘Pygmalion.’” The answer, of course, is “My Fair Lady” and the 1999 must be a typo gone undetected. After all, Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison rom-comed across the Broadway stage way back in 1956.

Did you know that hips don’t lie? If you were at all current on current affairs you would have easily answered 25 across. Shakira is a lovely name; I only wish I knew who it went with.

Four years of post-graduate theological study paid off in answering 12 down, “Book before Judges,” but was no help when it came to 117 across, “Agent Scully on ‘The X-Files.’” Oh, well; it’s a beautiful day in Palm Springs and peeking out from beneath my “solarweave” SPF 50 broad-brimmed sun hat, I have the opportunity to study the plethora of tattoos that populate the arms, legs and backs of the many merrymakers thrashing about in the pool. I’m rather 18 across, “Phlegmatic” (stoic) about this rather permanent but still passing fad. My own aversion to pain, self-inflicted or otherwise, keeps me from getting my own skin art, but if I must, I would probably put it on my 1 across, “Joke’s target.”

Still, all of this crossword action serves as a powerful reminder of just how difficult it is for elders to keep current with contemporary culture. I mean how many folk my age know that Phish is the answer to 58 down, “Band with a Ben & Jerry’s flavor named for it”?

We fogies do know the answer to 48 down, “____ Hawkins dance.” This reversal of roles had most boys like me fearful of being rejected for not being popular enough or handsome enough to be picked from the pack. I suspect I’m not alone in recognizing the seed of feminism that was planted way back when. I scribble S-a-d-i-e and smile at ancient wisdom revealed anew.

Roles are changing, that’s for sure. A question like 58 across, “Event with rainbow flags,” would have been as undecipherable to most of us back in the day, as is its answer (pride parade), which is why I’m feeling a little prideful right now having understood the clue.

We seniors stumble each Sunday seeking to unlock the mysteries of social conventions that forgot to send us tickets. We shake our heads and grind what’s left of our teeth trying to keep up with the rest of you. Have a little pity. Cut us some slack and we’ll continue to confront our Sunday Times crossword in a valiant, if ultimately futile, attempt to keep up with the, um, times.

That is, after all, why I’m in Palm Springs in the first place. Later today I’ll have the great honor to announce to a wonderful couple, “By the power vested in me by the state of California, I now pronounce you … wife and wife.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *