The Great Boomer Millennial Romantical Smack Down

The timing of this story is both perfect and terrible. It is perfect in that today is the 45thanniversary of both the day and date of the event it self.

It is terrible in that it would be a better story on the soon-to-appear, all-purpose website, Pundificator.com, rather than the historically mostly political libertyPell. Watch for a back-to-school launch.

A compromise is required because the next time July 12 happens on a Friday will be five years from now, the 50thanniversary of what you are about to read. Maybe I will run the story again? You will have forgotten and I might get away with it.

The standards for romantic skills have been ramped up significantly in recent decades. If you bother to look at the Sunday section of The New York Times devoted to marriages and engagements, which those who once appeared in those pages emphatically no longer do, you will see the oeuvre of romance publicists whose careers are devoted to chronicles of competitive wooing.

That section of The New York Times has long been pejoratively referred to as the “ladies’ sports page.” Well, I guess I have played my politically incorrect card for this story.

For upwardly mobile millennials, the choreography of the proposal is an art form. Hence, it is easy for the older baby boomer generation to feel like a bunch of slackers in comparison. Could it be time for the oldies, who lacked publicists and videographers to chronicle romantic events, to strike back against obsessed millennials, who think they invented romance?

Forty-five years ago today was my wife’s and my rehearsal dinner. It happened on the Friday night before before our 4:00 p.m. Saturday wedding followed by a reception under a striped tent (from which we were expelled at 7:00 p.m. so the guests could get it over with and go home).

The one bit of background you need is that Simmy, the bride in this saga, was (and still is) a really good tennis player. In contrast, I was (and still am) not in that category. Keep that in mind especially when you click on the link below.

The custom then (now repeated to excess) was to toast each other. Simmy wrote a poem invoking the memory of watching me play hockey at Harvard. Here’s a stanza, there are more.

 

Clad in his armor of crimson and sweating,

Slapping the puck right into the netting,

The love of my life, I remember just how,

His helmet perched on his strong handsome brow.

 

Inept at the writing poetry, I found a John Betjeman classic – Miss Joan Hunter Dunn– and read it to her. (Click the damn link it is the whole point.)

Today, nearly 5 decades later, I still get sniffly at both of them.

Take that millennial romance show offs. We weren’t completely useless boyfriends and girlfriends.

We had skillz and we didn’t need publicists.

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Haven Pell

At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Without hesitation, Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

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  • I doubt there are many at any point in time who have the skillz your wife had with her prose—‘perched on his strong handsome brow’. No videographer can come up with the romantic impact of that.
    Happy anniversary!

  • To this day, that Haven Pell
    Is known by all to have done very well.
    And his wife—still a teenager—
    Is keeping him young, I’ll wager.

  • Don’t forget that Simmy was comparatively excellent at squash as well as tennis. Happy anniversary weekend. Rick Spellman

  • The big difference between The NY Times coverage of weddings back in our day and today was brilliantly captured by David Brooks in one of his earlier books, Bobos in Paradise. He observed that what was then a parade of wealthy, white, hetero couples who had gone to separate, single-sex New England boarding schools and had met playing tennis in Bar Harbor had become a celebration of the new meritocracy: whip-smart, over-achievers from different ethnic backgrounds who met while studying computer science or economics at Stanford, with a healthy dose of gay and lesbian couples. Even in June, it’s hard to find a wedding of the children of hedge fund managers, products of private schools, wedded at an Episcopal church and feted at Piping Rock, Round Hill or Fisher’s Island club. And yes, as you point out, every marriage has to have a narrative worthy of its own reality show.

    As if anybody cares about either.