I’d respect my elders if I could find any of them

Burt’s Eye View

My younger cousin Nancy (solidly in her 60s) zapped me a meme that states, “I was always taught to respect my elders, but it keeps getting harder and harder to find one.”


Respect wasn’t earned; it was a page on the calendar.

It’s my birthday month (Nancy’s, too), and now the candles cost more than the birthday cake. We don’t lie about our age, we brag about it.

Since we can’t find our elders, we must be the ones due all that respect.

Remember when we were kids and the oldest always got to be the boss? My younger brothers took exception to this federal law, but hey, rules are rules.

So what happened?

Every year when her birthday rolled around and inquiring minds asked her age, my late wife, Terry, replied, “I am NOT older than dirt, but I AM older than Burt.” I took note of the implication: not that I was her boy toy, but that she was the boss of me.

(Truth is, she let me be the boss, the man of the house, and to make all the decisions. I was King Cole. Queen Terry also strongly hinted which decisions I made would be most advantageous to my continued comfort and peace in the castle, if I knew what was good for me…)

I’m older than all my bosses and they won’t stay off my lawn, er, desk, with pesky, young-punk things they expect me to do. C’mon, respect the fact that I’m in my mid-60s, and no longer young, active and passionate about anything beyond my easy chair.

I’m older than my doctor, who orders me around with words like “overweight,” “blood pressure,” “exercise” and “overweight.” (You already said that last one, Doc. “I know, but you’re really fa… uh, overweight. Unlike your lunch, it bears repeating.”)

Then there’s my spiritual adviser, our preacher, to whom I turn for guidance. I’m not only older than my pastor, but I’m older than his parents!

Listen, Rev. Little Kid, let me call your mommy and double check that advice.

Even my own kids boss me around. They tell me to grow up and act my age. I’ve never been this old before! I don’t know how this age is supposed to act.

Besides, you’re not the boss of me!

“We’re the ones who will choose your nursing home.”

Maybe they are.

Despite what I was taught by my elders, to quote the late and ungrammatical Rodney Dangerfield (who was older than I, by the way), “I don’t get no respect.”

My college friends Brian and Darla went on a tour of some museum exhibit a few weeks ago. The young docent pointed to some ancient technology — a rotary phone, I think — and told the group, “This is how people messaged each other back in the last century.”

Last century!

They told the little girl to go to her room and not come out until she learned how to respect her elders, who really aren’t all that old, even if they date back to the last century. So there!

Let me tell you, kids, long, long ago in a 20th century far away, we respected our elders and their vast accumulation of wisdom and knowledge. I’ll look it up and show you on this crazy pocket phone thingy if you can remind me where to dial for Gobble or Google or Good Gravy Things Got Crazy Complicated. Respect that!

Send hard candy for the old man to suck on at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com or the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today