Published on: August 26, 2010Now available on iTunes…
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Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe, and this is MNB Radio, available on iTunes and brought to you this week by Webstop, experts in the art of retail website design.
Just to follow up on last week’s rant about generational differences...
I got a reminder the other day of just how much we have to pay attention to the fact that the younger generation simply has an entirely different set of reference points than we do.
We were out to dinner, my wife, daughter and me. And my daughter made some innocuous comment about something - I have no idea what - that implied that whatever it was she was talking about would affect us as much as it would affect her. And so I looked at her, grinned, and said:
What you mean ‘we,’ kemo sabe?”
From the look she gave me, I might as well have been speaking Greek. She seemed to have no clue what I was talking about.
It’s from the old joke, I told her.
She continued to stare at me.
So I started to tell her the joke, and then realized that for her to understand the joke, she’d certainly have to understand the context. So I asked her if she knew who the Lone Ranger was.
Nope. No idea.
Let it go, my wife said. It doesn’t really matter.
But I’m not particularly good at letting go. Sometimes I sort of get like a dog with a bone. So I started to explain the legend of the Lone Ranger to her...how a Texas Ranger named James Reid, along with a bunch of other Texas Rangers (and, of course, I had to explain what Texas Rangers were) got caught in an ambush, and that only James Reid survived, and was nursed back to health by an Indian named Tonto...and that Reid decided that to be more effective, he would fight against the bad guys by wearing a mask and calling himself the Lone Ranger, striking fear into the hearts of criminals everywhere by traveling the west with his faithful companion, Tonto. (I even told her how Reid was, if you follow such fictions, the ancestor of Britt Reid, who became the Green Hornet, with his own faithful companion, Kato.)
By this point, she’s looking at me with something between incredulity and total disdain. In fact, so’s my wife, who cannot believe that I know this level of detail and am sharing it with a 16-year-old girl.
So then, because now I’m on a roll and cannot stop myself because somehow I’ve convinced myself that this is an important pert of her cultural education...I proceed to tell her the old joke about how the Lone Ranger and Tonto are surrounded on all sides by hostile Indians, and how the Lone Ranger looks at Tonto and says, “I guess we’re in real trouble now,” and Tonto responds, What you mean ‘we,’ kemo sabe?”
Now, to be fair, she smiled a bit. But it was a pity smile. I know this because she also rolled her eyes. (Just for the record, I got no such pity smile from Mrs. Content Guy.)
The thing is, I love that joke. Always have, even though it is about as corny as you can imagine. But my daughter, not so much.
She’s 16 years old. She may be the customer, or will be soon enough. She may be the employee, or will be soon enough. Either way, we have to learn to talk to her in a language that she understands, using metaphors and references that are relevant to her. Some will say that it is her responsibility to learn to speak our language, but I don’t think so. Not really. We’re the adults, we’re the ones who want to communicate with her, motivate her, inspire her, teach her. So we’d better learn to be relevant to her.
And all the other people out there like her.
For MNB Radio, I’m Kevin Coupe.
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