In my dream, I sit on a bench beside a busy street. I notice the traffic is all moving left to right. It’s a parade. I understand I’m watching the 21st century pass me by. I’m happy.
Immediately in front of me, two young men are carrying a banner: “Tech Now!”
After them, a leased BMW convertible, with young people facing me and chanting: “We don’t guess, We’ve got GPS!”
I smile and wave. I prefer my maps – but they know that, don’t they?
Then comes four teenagers, anatomically joined to their smart phones. One takes my photo. Another sing-songs: “Hey, old timer, wanna text with me?” Another says, “Missed you on Facebook, Pops!” And they all chant: “Hashtag! Hashtag! App, App, App!” And they double over laughing.
The 21st century isn’t just passing me by. It’s mocking me.
Now a brass band, not playing parade music. They’re bouncing along and at times shouting, “Uptown Funk!” Their instruments are turned toward me. “That ain’t music,” I shout. The leader smirks. I’m not smiling.
A TV weatherman walks by. He’s repeating: “Turn your clocks forward tonight – those of you who still have clocks.”
I shout: “Hold it, bud! I have clocks! Who doesn’t?” He ignores me.
Now another two men come with a banner: “Revamp English!”
I stand up: “Hey! Now you’ve gone too far! You’re messing with my language!”
A flatbed truck comes by, with a man bent over a stamping machine. He’s minting new words. I see he’s just finished one. He holds it up to me: “listicle.” I sit down. I know “listicle”: a literary article that utilizes lists. It’s OK. English has always been the Play-Doh of languages, back to “gerrymander” and before. This new word belongs with “sitcom, brunch, labradoodle, infomercial, Frappuccino,” and Stephen Colbert’s wonderful “truthiness.”
But then a long bus appears. It has somebody in every window, endlessly repeating the same sentences. It’s moving slowly.
The first window has an interviewer on “CBS Sunday Morning”: “Your job is pretty unique, isn’t it?”
I’m on my feet again: “No! No! ‘Unique’ means the only one! ‘Pretty unique’ says there are degrees of uniqueness!”
At the next window, a woman is saying: “He’s so going to get in trouble for this.”
I’m at the window, pointing my finger: “”So’ can only modify one word! So happy, so rich! It can’t modify the whole rest of the sentence!”
A mob crowds the next window. I pick out one voice: “He has mental health issues.”
I’m shrieking: “He does not have issues! He has mental health problems! Problems! An issue is something in dispute between more than one person!”
I wake up. It was just a dream. Wasn’t it?