Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Day After

Tomorrow I will mark a quarter century of existence: I will turn 25.

From tomorrow, I will never again be able to complain about anyone or anything because, at age 25, I alone will be responsible for my life, my circumstances and my achievements.

From age 25, if one is disappointed in one’s life, one’s circumstances or one’s achievements, one need look inward and nowhere else. At age 25, one is responsible for one’s own shortcomings. Blame may no longer be directed elsewhere.

Nothing significant happened on Saturday, November 19, 1983—except, in my family, my mother had to go to the hospital that afternoon, around 1:00 p.m. Once my parents arrived at the hospital, my mother and my father sat in their car in the hospital parking lot for about thirty minutes while my mother tried to decide whether or not my birth really was imminent. After a particularly painful contraction, my mother announced, “Yes, this is it”, and she and my father entered the hospital. I arrived that evening.

While nothing happened on my birth date, a few things of note occurred in the month of November 1983.

Worldwide ceremonies were held to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the birth of Martin Luther.

Chrysler put out its first Minivan. Microsoft issued version 1.0 of its Windows operating system. The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit an all-time high.

The space shuttle Columbia lifted off, launching Spacelab.

A bellicose Soviet Union was in the process of dying in November 1983, having met its match in Ronald Reagan. An ailing Yuri Andropov failed to appear that month at the annual parade commemorating the 1917 Revolution, signaling to Sovietologists in the West that Andropov must be mortally ill (which he was). Roman Catholic Bishops in France voted that month, overwhelmingly, to approve the use of nuclear weapons as a necessary and legitimate tool against Soviet aggression. The first cruise missiles to be deployed in Europe were installed in Britain in November 1983. West Germany approved the installation of tactical nuclear weapons on German soil in November 1983. The Soviet Union walked out of intermediate-range nuclear weapons talks in Geneva that month (Reagan announced that the Soviets would soon be back at the bargaining table, and they were). The rancorous Left mindlessly protested all of the above.

The most significant event of the month in terms of popular culture was the airing of one of the most-watched television movies ever. It aired on the day after I was born and its title, suitably, was “The Day After”. It was a widely-derided and quickly-forgotten movie about the nuclear annihilation of America. The rancorous Left mindlessly lauded the film.

The specious but fashionable science topic of the day was Nuclear Winter.

Cabbage Patch Dolls were the hot Christmas toy.

“Joshua” was the ninth-most popular name for newborn American baby boys in 1983.

Everyone in America was reading two books, one fiction and one non-fiction: “The Name Of The Rose” by Umberto Eco, a book now largely disappeared from view but the most recent novel that was both a scholarly work and a bestseller; and “Modern Times” by Paul Johnson, now an acknowledged classic, possibly the most influential and respected book of the final quarter of the 20th Century, still in print and still selling mountains of copies each year, read and quoted everywhere.

Andrew was three years old in 1983. According to Andrew’s mother, Andrew couldn’t understand why he couldn’t go to school with his brothers every morning.

Much has changed in the last twenty-five years, but much remains the same. My parents still live in the same house they bought in 1983. My father still works at the same law firm. My mother still works at the same CPA firm.

Life goes on. Some things remain constant. Some things—the deaths of grandparents, the arrivals of younger siblings—change.

Twenty-five years is a long time. I have now been around for a quarter century. For the first time in my life, I feel old.

I also, however, look forward to the next twenty-five years.


  1. Joshua,

    "For the first time in my life, I feel old."

    Give me a break!


  2. Joshua,

    Happy birthday, anyway. I hope you and Andrew enjoy the concert.


  3. Whew! When I saw early this morning that there were two new comments on my blog, I thought that the demented and dumb Andrew Patner must be back, posting comments on my blog again, and that I would have to delete them. Patner posted a comment last evening, which I deleted, and I see from my overnight visitor list that Patner once again was reading my blog in the middle of the night (as was Kenneth Slepyan, Professor Of History from Lexington, Kentucky, another constant middle-of-the-night visitor to my blog). I simply cannot believe that the reprehensible and classless Patner has the temerity to enter comments upon my blog. Unlike Drew, I automatically delete the comments of dumbos and whackos, and I was prepared to delete Patner once again, since he so clearly fulfills both criteria.

    Thank you for your birthday wishes. I appreciate them.

    However, I do feel old, for the first time in my life.

    Thanks again.


  4. Happy Birthday, guy!

    No. 25 is a piece of cake.

    Won't be long till I come up to the big 30.

    Well, another 18 months.

    Happy Birthday!

  5. Joshua,

    I am amazed that Patner would keep returning to your blog, especially after describing (to a perfect stranger in Denver, no less) yours and Andrew’s blogs as the “Bates’ Motel.” Even more remarkable is the apparent amount of leisure time he has for such midnight cyber-stalking, not to mention daytime blog demolition, a talent for which he and his stooges demonstrated to risible effect a while back on Andrew’s blog. All this suggests to me that Patner holds a sinecure worthy of the envy of Vanna White -- one of Patner’s most admired American intellectuals, I’d wager.


  6. Thanks, Paul. It was no big deal, as things turned out.

    But thanks anyway.

  7. I could care less whether Patner reads my blog, but I will not allow him to enter comments here. I cannot imagine what must be going through his mind when he enters comments on my blog. The man is a psychiatric case study.

    One would think that Patner would focus his energies on trying to get a job that paid him a living wage. The Media Group pays him a pittance of a salary—Andrew and I were shocked when we learned how little money he makes, even by newspaper standards—and, in any case, he will need to get another job soon. Both The Media Group and the Sun-Times are in their death throes. The Media Group’s stock has been delisted and deregistered, the company is bleeding red ink and has no borrowing capacity, and the company already tried to unload the Sun-Times, without success. Both companies will enter receivership soon.

    Given his circumstances, why is this disturbed man wasting his time harassing Andrew and me? He needs to focus his energies on his employment situation. His prospects are no doubt grim, but he will not find a job here.