Every year around this time, I get a little melancholy. The advance of fall, my second-favorite time of year, is always welcome. But it means the retreat of summer, my Numero Uno season, so hence the gloom.
But then, as predictably as the lumbering sound of school buses, the annual Beloit College Mindset List is released. Before I know it, I'm either laughing or rolling my eyes in amazement, or both.
The Mindset List is one of my favorite annual occurrences. Originally started as a quick-hit compilation to give college professors instant appreciation for their generational differences with incoming students (an exercise against "hardening of the references"), this list has morphed into a pop-culture phenomenon all its own.
I never have enough room to run the whole list, which means I cherry-pick whatever seems most striking. Oh, and I always provide full disclosure: I'm a Beloit grad. Big whoop. I'd feature the list even if I weren't.
So here's Life According To The Class of 2008:
Baby Jessica is old enough to be their classmate.
Cher hasn't aged a day.
There has always been a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
There have never been any Playboy Clubs.
Politicians have always used rock music for theme songs.
Bethlehem has never been a place of peace at Christmas.
Oliver North has always been a talk show host and news commentator.
Oprah has always dominated afternoon television; who was Phil Donahue, anyway?
They have always been accustomed to gay TV characters.
Ivan Boesky has never sold stock.
Desi Arnaz, Orson Welles, Roy Orbison, Ted Bundy, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Cary Grant have always been dead.
"Heeeere's Johnny!" is a scary greeting from Jack Nicholson, not a warm welcome from Ed McMahon.
Alan Greenspan has always set the nation's financial direction.
Robert Downey, Jr., has always been in trouble.
Fidel Castro has always been an aging politician in a suit.
There has always been a Comedy Channel.
Network television has always struggled to keep up with cable.
They never saw Roseanne Roseannadanna on Saturday Night Live.
They were spared all those TV ads for Zamfir and his panpipes.
Harry has always known Sally.
The United States has always been a Prozac nation.
Large fine-print ads for prescription drugs have always appeared in magazines.
Rogaine has always been available.
Photographs have always been processed in an hour or less.
They were never tempted by "smokeless" cigarettes.
They have always enjoyed the comfort of pleather.
And, finally, my own personal horror-inducing realization ...
There have always been night games at Wrigley Field.