Oldenburg uses modern materials like plastic, stainless steel, fiberglass and enamel to construct large-scale versions of everyday objects. I show a whole series of Oldenburg’s works in my class and we talk about his sense of humor as well as his wry commentary on the value we give to objects – the materialism of our culture. We laugh at the giant tube with toothpaste squeezed out of it, the upside-down flashlight, the balancing tools, the bridge made of a spoon with a cherry on top, and the colossal baseball bat in the middle of downtown Chicago.
Then I show this one and the room goes silent. I realize, with a keen mixture of smugness and the sensation of my own rapidly expiring mortality, that I am the only person in the room who knows what this object is. They all think it’s a 19 foot-tall piece of abstract art.
I try not to sound like my father describing the deprivations of the Great Depression as I explain that this nifty object came in handy back in the day of that other mechanical dinosaur – the typewriter. We used the rubber disk to erase mistakes off the page (and *grrrrr* scratch a cursed hole into the paper). The brush on top was for sweeping eraser bits out of the way…and into the keys and all over the desk. I share with my
In addition to the fact that my own children now start taking keyboarding classes in 2nd grade, I’ve noticed a fair bit of evidence to the generation gap in my own home.
When I was growing up, what did we yell when we were outside playing sardines and someone got hurt or Mom said it was time for dinner? We yelled, of course, the universally respected “Ollie Ollie in come free!” Where on earth it came from or why I always pictured a boy named Ollie rather than the word “All-ee” which really makes more sense is beyond me. But that was the procedure. What do my kids yell when they need to call a time-out to their game of tag? “Pause the game!” As in what you do to a DVD player or an X-Box.
Speaking of games, my sons play a decidedly post 9/11 variation on Cowboys and Indians called Parakeets and Terrorists. The boys play the good guys/parakeets who fend off the attacks of the terrorists – ruthless imaginary foes with names like Abdul and Frank. Don’t ask me why terrorists have a vendetta against parakeets. I have a hard enough time explaining to my kids why they hate Americans.
And the last sign that my own children are growing up on an entirely different planet from the one I remember, as left on the fridge yesterday by my 4-year old son:
Tags: generation gap, Oldenburg, parenting, typewriters