How boomers can avoid being dismissed

Do you know how to roll with the younger generations? Do you even have a clue? Former stand-up comedian Forrest Brakeman of La Canada, California, does. So read this carefully. Maybe twice.

We Boomers have every bit as much to offer as the Millennials or the Gen-X’s or the Gen-Y’s. Hell, we invented the world as they know it. But to bridge the generation gap, or chasm, we need to stay relevant. So here are some safety tips for dealing with the young whippersnappers.

1. Upgrade everything. Do it now.

Forrest Brakeman

Forrest Brakeman

Keep up with the latest technology. If you find yourself saying, “I like the keyboard on my Blackberry because it’s easier than typing on an iPhone,” or “I wouldn’t even begin to know how to do an app,” well, then run — don’t walk — to the nearest Apple Store, ’cause you’re about to become an Old “You Know What.”

2. Don’t dis modern culture.

“Dis” means disrespect. Avoid saying things like, “There’s no good new music,” or, “Kids today don’t know how to dress.” There is, and they do. Just like we did at that age. Try some Bruno Mars or Ed Sheeran on for size, and marvel at how the kids are dressing an awful lot like we used to. The ’60’s are cool again. Smile knowingly.

Bruno Mars in concert.

Bruno Mars in concert.

3. Exercise. No really, work out.

Use it or lose it, baby. You’ll feel younger. Nothing says old-timer like the guy who gets winded just picking up a check. Work out. Just not like you’re twenty, because you can’t run a 7-minute mile, so don’t try. You can pinch a nerve high-fiving someone. Set age-appropriate goals, and celebrate breaking those like you did when you were young and fast. The feeling is the same.

4. Keep your aches and pains to yourself.

The flip side of #3 is: resist the urge to talk about your ailments. As we get older, parts of our bodies that we didn’t even know existed will hurt. Suddenly you know the difference between degenerative and rheumatoid arthritis. You will find yourself wanting to use the term plantar fasciitis over cocktails. Don’t.

5. Go out. Actually leave the house.

Forrest Brakeman

Forrest Brakeman

Force yourself to go out, even though staying in sounds way more fun. But no, it’s not more fun; it’s just easier. However, don’t suggest 5:30 reservations. Oh, believe me, I know why you would; you can walk right in and get a seat, and that gives you time to digest before you go to bed at 9 when NCIS is over. This is the chasm. Young people don’t do easy. They don’t even leave the house until 9. So fight the pull of the couch, say yes to the young-uns, and see where it leads. You can always complain about how late you had to stay up when you go out with your old “You Know What” friends. At 5:30.

5. You can’t drink like them or you will die.

When you do go out, do not try to keep up with them. Their bodies are finely tuned machines. Their livers? Flawless. Put “spacers” between your drinks; a soda water with lime looks just like a gin and tonic. Why? It looks like you are drinking toe-to-toe with them, and you will survive the night.

And yes, I now see there were two 5’s. Well, there’s another one: get my bifocals Rx checked …


  1. Fabulous advice. It makes me crazy when people say “I’m getting old.” My typical response is, “Your just getting lazier.” Right on the money, Mr. Brakeman.

  2. Oh geeze, did you have to end the list so soon? I wanted it to go on and on, and to really bask in my horrification of all things associated with aging. Don’t forget the part about telling people the “Eff off!” more often. My mother swore by it. She lived till she was 88, and regularly told people to “F#@ off!” It might not be your personal style, but hey! The young people you know will think you’re awesome! My gut thanks you for the laugh, yet again Forrest.

  3. Here’s a handy little secret I use. Whenever your son or daughter is looking over your shoulder and prompts you on how to do anything online, just respond with “No kidding.” Whether you know it or not. “No kidding.” Makes you look like you knew and young people love sarcasm. Of course, don’t forget to do whatever they told you do.

      1. If you’re feeling extra uppity, try “Yeah no kidding. My generation INVENTED the Internet.” Your kids can’t hear that enough.

  4. This article was awesome. Can I still use the word awesome? Well, I am going to remember this advice the next time I interact with my snooty youngsters next time. 🙂

  5. Mr. Brakeman, you pulled all the stops! Loved this and so did a lot of people, all moved to comment! I was convinced I’d only see a couple of comments (as usual) and here there are 21 comments already, believe me, on this site, you’ve BROUGHT DOWN THE HOUSE!

    I would only add one more piece of advice to your excellent list: if you can, try and WORK with young people – I was lucky enough to be able to do that (I’m senior editor at Impakter, an online magazine with a huge Millennial audience, and I’m a heavy user of Thingser, the new social network that’s going viral among Millennials), and believe me, that’s keeping me …on my toes!

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