Old People Are Crazy

I have always been told that the WWII generation was the greatest thing America had going, and for the most part this seems to have been true.  They tend to be people of faith and sacrifice.  They learned to give much better that we do, and they learned to live without (see the Great Depression) much better than we will ever do.  All it takes is for your wife to leave her cell phone at work to throw your family’s whole schedule off, and minor inconveniences that people 50 years ago just had to deal-with until they could get time to go to town become emergency situations for us today.

It seems that enough can never be said about these stalwart examples of what America could and should be.  It is hard to even come up with a word.  Hey, I’ve got one.  How about “crazy?” 

That’s right, old people are crazy, in fact when these bastions of faith look in the mirror, often the reflection staring back at them is most easily associated with the same people who burned witches in Salem or natives that think you have stolen their souls when you take their pictures.

I came to this realization after studying some of the crazy beliefs that have been left over from the last couple of generations.  A friend and I were recently discussing this phenomenon when he related a story.  When he was a child his family would plan the occasional outing, to the movie theatre for example.  He began to notice that if it were raining, his parents and grandparents would call-off the activity.  When he asked why, they would look at him as if he should know the answer and state, “It’s raining.”  As an adult he looks back to when he was a child and still cannot understand what kept them from going.  Obviously, the only time that they would actually be affected by the rain would be the short time between the car and the theatre, and even then they would have had an umbrella.  He did not think that his folks were just trying to get out of the trip either.  No, there was something about the rain that seemed to paralyze this generation of his family, an overwhelming force that reason could not penetrate.  The only hope was to give up, and wait for nicer weather.

There is something about the weather and the last couple of generations.  My grandmother was transfixed by the weather.  She was one of the most independent women I ever knew.  After her husband died, she lived for another 30 years (by herself) until the age of 93.  After I graduated from college, I decided one year that I would have cable installed at my grandmother’s house, and pay the monthly bill for her.  You would think this would have opened up a whole world of viewing possibilities for her, but it did not.  She watched the same old reruns she always had, except for one thing.  She found the local NOAA radar feed on one of the channels.

Some would have called her relationship with the radar channel an addiction (those people are known as psychiatrists), but whatever the case was, if there was a cloud in the sky or a chance of rain, she would attempt to single-handedly put the radar channel on the Nielson map.  As with any addict, they try to drag others into their addictions.  This is where the phone calls came in.  I remember distinctly picking up the phone one evening and hearing a screechy, frantic voice yelling, “It’s red all over Texas! The most unusual thing about the beginning of this phone conversation is that I knew exactly what she meant.  She was informing me that weather patterns around the North Texas area indicated the presence of several severe thunderstorms.  I thanked her, hung up the phone and took immediate action by sitting back down to finish my dinner.

It does not end there, however.  Old people practice their own particular brand of voodoo.  On a trip to my in-laws’ house I was introduced to mushroom tea.  No, this was not the illegal kind of mushroom tea, nor was it a savory blend of tea, shitake, button and other mushrooms.  This was a pitcher of the most disgusting, foul smelling liquid I have ever seen (this may be what it was, but I am not sure http://www.awakening-healing.com/Kombucha_Tea.htm ).  There was a gallon jug with a large batch of brown mold growing on the top.  This mold colored the tea a dingy brown color much that same as a bacteria might.  But hey, this thing was backed-up by internet hype.  There was a long document that claimed this tea would cure everything from warts to cancer (I swear to all that is holy).  It read just like you would imagine a snake oil salesman would say it, and did not neglect to deride doctors for not accepting this miracle cure-all.  It’s reasoning, of course, was that doctors needed people to be sick so that they would have  business, and therefore would never support something with the curative powers of the tea.

Out of love for my wife, I kept my mouth shut, and I stayed away from the tea.  I was amazed when my in-laws began to try to put peer-pressure on me, and make me feel like I was an idiot for not drinking their cure-all tea.  I finally said, you can drink that if you like, but I will never drink that tea, and I did not.

This was all brought back to me recently by my own mother.  She had a cold and was having trouble sleeping.  One of her friends told her that if she would simply rub Vicks Vapor Rub on her feet, and then put on a pair of socks, then she would not cough.  So, she did, and (oddly enough) her feet started burning and itching during the night, and when she scratched them, they felt, “like fire.”  She ended up having to get up and wash her feet off during the night.  The most amazing thing to me was that she would even try such a thing.

But like I said before, old people are crazy.