Did I Say That? The generational divide

A wise philosopher once said, “Some things never change.” You’re probably thinking that was Plato or Aristotle or Hegel or Homer Simpson. No. It was my wife, and she doesn’t even have a degree in philosophy.

Some things never change, she said, while she was wandering around the house, picking up after our oldest daughter, who recently came home for the day. Fortunately, it was only one day although it seemed like a lifetime. As another great philosopher, Yogi Berra, once said, “Deja vu all over again.”

She’s living proof that some things never change — even though Buddha said “Everything changes.” She, like my other three daughters, has a mental condition of inexplicable origin. The NEVER finish their drinks, whether it’s a bottle of Smartwater, a glass of Cabernet or a mucho grande Starbucks. Who can be so extravagant to waste a $6 latte?

At holiday celebrations, our house is cluttered with unfinished drinks so I’ve adopted a counter strategy. I plan to fill the Dasani bottles with tap water and save the leftover wine in their glasses for their next visit.

They’ve behaved like this since they were kids. I still remember emptying milk from their sippy cups down the drain, along with half-finished juice boxes and cans of Pepsi.

But the wasteful behavior doesn’t stop there. I also followed my daughter around the house, turning off lights. Whenever she enters a room, she turns on the light, and when she exits, the light stays on. At one point, every room on the second floor was illuminated … at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

I’d have more sympathy for this behavior if she worked for United Illuminating or Eversource and her annual bonus depended upon electricity consumption. When they were kids, I was constantly flipping off light switches. Decades later, I’m still doing it.

Then, there’s the thermostat, which I’ve decided to put under lock and key. Sandy and I went out, and when we returned, the house was hotter than South Florida in August. Our daughter had cranked the thermostat up to almost 80. Fortunately, our furnace doesn’t run on nuclear power or we would have had a meltdown. Who goes into someone’s house — even their parents’ — and messes with the thermostat? That’s like rummaging through someone’s medicine cabinet or underwear drawer.

What really frightens me is that my sons-in-law and the grandkids behave the same way.

Half-finished drinks, wasted plates of food and profligate energy consumption. They have no sense of frugality. As my philosopher wife says, “Easy come, easy go.”

This is proof of what was once notoriously called the “generation gap.” Our minds must be wired differently. I promised I wouldn’t say this, but I can’t control myself: “When I was a kid…”

When I was a kid, we had to eat everything on our plates, even liver and spinach, and believe me, it wasn’t easy. If we didn’t clean our plates, we couldn’t get up from the dinner table.

And we NEVER left unfinished glasses of juice or milk around the house. Bottled water hadn’t been invented, and if it had been, my father would have prohibited it. “Drink from the tap,” he would have said. “That’s why we pay the water company!”

If I left a light on in a room, he would drag me back there and tell me to turn it off because electricity costs money … so shut the front door, not to mention the refrigerator door. I was always told, “You don’t live in a barn!” And the only thing more sacred than his liquor cabinet was the thermostat, which only he was authorized to touch.

My parents were members of the Greatest Generation, and they lived through the Great Depression. Many nights they went to bed hungry and many days they walked to the harbor to collect coal to heat their apartment.

To the day that she died, my mother ignored expiration dates because she believed they were a conspiracy by the farmers and the grocery stores to get you to waste perfectly good food and buy more.

Buddha was wrong. Some things never change. Of course, Buddha never had kids, although I’m sure he enjoyed a glass of Cabernet now and then … and drank every drop.

Joe Pisani can be reached at [email protected].