After watching my home-from-college Theo spend yet another evening on his laptop, I felt constrained to ask, "You wanna play a game or something?"
"No, thanks," he said.
Really, I don't know why I asked. He's never been much of a games player. But, somehow, I couldn't let this one go. "So, uh, do you play card games at college?"
[Puzzled look from Theo]
"You know, cards - 52 of them, 4 suits, that sort of thing?"
"Oh! Oh, no, I guess not." He attempted to return to Facebook.
"Do the other kids play cards?" I persisted.
[Another puzzled look]
I warmed to my subject. "I remember playing Hearts and bridge at college; sometimes we'd get tired of cards and play some backgammon instead." Ooh, it was giving me the warm fuzzies, just thinking of it. "We drank orange soda and ate Doritos and stayed up all night playing those games. It was so much fun!"
[Silence. A polite silence, but silence nevertheless.]
"Didn't you and your friends ever do that?" I asked him.
"Oh, uh, I guess not. We just hang out."
"Online, or in person?"
"Oh, both, I guess."
Okay, I won't lie. I was getting a little perturbed at this point. Those all-night hands of hearts were just so seminal to my college experience. I couldn't believe that wasn't still happening, that all these memories of my youth were no more. I felt angry, bewildered, like a Rip Van Winkle waking up after 25 years. Where was my world?
I could have tried shocking Theo out of his 21st-century complacency. I could have said, "You know, when we wanted to talk to someone in our dorm back then, we had to go find them. And I had to wait a whole week for a phone to be installed in my dorm room freshman year. For privacy, I had to pull the phone out in the hall, with the cord under the door. The words came through that cord, see? We needed the cord. If I wanted to watch TV, I had to watch what everyone else was watching in the lounge. Which was, if memory serves me correctly, either General Hospital or M*A*S*H, because nothing much else was on..."
I know, it's not Theo's fault. It's a brave new world, and it doesn't belong to the likes of me. My memories won't be his memories; and soon no one but old people like myself will remember doing things like playing Hearts until the sun rose. Theo's generation will remember "chatting" until their fingers fall off, I guess; or maybe they'll remember an all-night texting session. But it's not the same. It can't be the same.
Oh, man, only the greatest movie ever made - you all can keep your stupid Avatar. My friends and I would wait for this to be shown at the campus movie theater each year (we couldn't just watch it on video, because we didn't have those) and we'd all walk together to go see it. It was a shared experience, if anyone even knows what that is anymore...
[Cards photo credit: magic tricks blog]
[Backgammon photo credit: onlinesportbookbetting.com]
[MASH photo credit: wikipedia]