Close your eyes and count to 70. Feels like a long time, right? Now take that number and multiply it by the 31,536 000 seconds in a non-leap year. That’s 220,752,000 seconds, or 70 years in plain English.
70 years. That’s 13 American presidents, a handful of wars, and 35 cent movie tickets. That’s telegrams, Battle of the Bulge (of the non-Hostess variety), color TV’s, civil rights, Kennedy’s, test tube babies, smoking on airplanes, and cell phones the size of bricks.
That’s also in-law’s and babies and funerals and new jobs and college degrees and spats and blow-out’s and make-out’s and kissing and making up and sex and Valentine’s Days and holiday parties and retirement parties and hospital visits and holding hands and hello’s and goodbye’s and at least 70 other things.
As of January 28, 2013, that’s how long my Grandparents will have been married.
70 years. SEVENTY YEARS. SEVEN-ZERO Y-E-A-R-S. That is nuts. As the twenty-four-year old supposed apple of their eyes (or one of 6 grand-apples of their eyes and 6 great-grand apples of their eyes) I will be the first to say that the concept of being with someone (let alone married) for 70 years blows my mind. Forget the mushy stuff… I just can’t get past how many times they have probably farted on each other in their sleep among other shady things of that nature.
A recent article in the New York Times entitled “The End of Courtship?” had it’s 15-minutes of Facebook fame last week. In this article, Alex Williams talks about “hookup culture” among young people, characterized by spontaneous, commitment-free (and often, alcohol-fueled) romantic flings.” Generation Y women across the interwebs “mmhmm’ed” and “yup’ed” until we were blue in the face, while our Generation Y male counterparts scoffed and got their panties in a bunch. As one Facebook friend of mine pointed out, the article set a magnifying glass on “the decline of men and their continued childish ways and the rise of the woman who R(S)OARS.”
This brings me back to my grandparents, born in 1919 and 1921, respectively. My Grandpa was the self-proclaimed head-of-the-household. My Grandma was the loyal housewife, hostess, and mother of the children. They met in 1941 in Hartford, CT, where they were both working at the local vacuum store. After many failed attempts to impress my unimpressed Grandma, my Gramps finally succeeded. I’ve heard the stories- homeboy had some game. He took her out for blueberry pie and coffee. A couple years, state lines, and military trainings later, they were married with 3 Baby Boomer kids living the good ol’ American Dream.
Fast forward 70 years and here we are. We went from “be home by 10” to booty calls. We went from “what do you know about so-and-so” to Facebook stalking, and we went from telegrams to text messages. Do you hear me complaining? Because I’m not trying to. In fact, I know that as a 24-year-old deeply-seated and actively contributing to Generation Y relationship culture, I am one of “those women” who R(S)OAR. I am never going to be the quiet and obedient housewife or girlfriend or prospective girlfriend, nor do I want my potential daughter(s), granddaughter(s), or great-granddaughter(s) to be either. You don’t want that either, I know. I am opinionated and messy and too forward and certainly not coy enough. The definition of being “ladylike” may have changed over the past century but the basic underlying principle has not, and that principle is respect. I could say that Generation Y women are lacking self-respect, which would directly contribute to this much-discussed “hook-up culture.” And I could say that men are lacking respect for women, but both are cheap shots and only mere pieces of the puzzle. And the classic question remains: which comes first: the chick(en) or the egg?
Sure, men may be falling prey to (or just taking advantage of the fact?) that we Generation Y women are trying to figure out our evolving roles in the world. But news-flash, muchachos: rather than *Feminist hat comes on. Oops, should I bleep out this word?* blaming women for being loose or lacking self-respect, think about how YOU are contributing to the demise (or maintenance) of romance, and not the kind in your pants. Gentlemen, I dare you to be uncharacteristically-vulnerable for Generation Y by sticking out your neck for me. Be the love-struck schmuck in the vacuum store refusing to take “no” for an answer. And then love me for 70 years.
I’m not saying that I want to be handled like a delicate flower. I am saying, however, that I want to be spoiled. All human beings in love deserve this regardless of gender. Chivalry doesn’t have to be dead, it just has to be an equal opportunity endearing quality for and from both partners in a relationship. Possible? Yeah, I don’t know either, but that’s the goal: mutual respect, admiration, and the desire to tear each other’s clothes off well into your 70th year of marriage. And I’ll tell you what… when we are wrinkly and wise and cruising around in our Jetson space-age car well into the mid-‘60’s (2060’s, that is), you can take me out for coffee and blueberry pie and I will take you out, too.
Oh, and Happy 70th, Gram and Gramps.