Steven Ivory

*Change is a cornerstone of life. Evolution, transformation, personal growth–at the very least, we’re  all allowed a change of heart.

That said, I never figured on hearing myself say some of the things I say today.  Out of my mouth occasionally come the same words, phrases, mottos and mantras that I heard adults say when I was a child.

Back then, much of it sounded utterly ridiculous. Like the harebrained, almost sci-fi notion that once a person turns twenty-one, “the years are going to FLY by.”  No kid was buying that.  When you’re fourteen and panting to be older, even seventeen seems light years away.  That was Old Folks wisdom.  Of course, I grew up to learn that those “old” people were actually in their late 20s, 30s and 40s.

Now, in a mocking, ritualistic twist of fate, here I am saying some of the same things.  Equally spooky: like so many local, cut-rate Nostradamuses, the Old Folk actually TOLD me I’d be saying such things one day. If I was lucky, they’d sniff.

I guess I am lucky. Because when I’m not quoting those folk directly, I’m pronouncing my own view, both reasonable and unreasonable, borne of the changing times and an ever changing me.

Nevertheless, I never considered a day when I’d say:

“I can’t see that”…”The police were right”…”I knew your father before you were born”…”It used to be all-white, now it’s all Black” …”It’s like Grandmother used to say: ‘If you can’t do it between 6:00 AM and 12 midnight,  it might not be worth doing”…”This joint will last me a week”…”Her dress is too short”…”You need more light in here”… “I think I want  to be cremated”…”I didn’t know it was that loud”…”I dress for ME, okay?”…”I must’ve hid it from myself”…”Daddy was right”…”I knew your mother long before you were even thought about”…”Listen, JFK wasn’t a saint….

“You should read the label”…”I can’t eat that anymore”…”There are people who SHOULD be executed”…”I remember when he used to push you in a stroller”…”In my life I’ve been Negro, Colored, Afro-American, Black, African American and Black again”… “They can’t really expect people to read print this small”…”This used to be The Shit”…”I don’t miss  hair”…”How do they expect people get this open?”… “Mama’s gone”…”I know it’s free,  I still don’t want it” …”Your gray looks great”…”I’ll wait until it’s on sale”…”and to think, he was only 67″… “It used to be all Black.  Now’s it mostly Hispanic”…”I don’t think he should resign”….

“She’s too young for me”… “That was 30 years ago” …”I don’t own a turntable”…”I like country music, but REAL country, like I grew up with”… “I don’t miss bacon”… “You’re just a kid”…”Oklahoma City has an NBA team”…”I love sweets, but I don’t eat them much”… “That was back in the 20th Century”… “She doesn’t know what a record is”… I don’t have a problem with the word Negro” …”I don’t remember my thirties” …”Michael Jackson is dead”….

“Where’d the time go?”… “The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Lakers”… “Oh, I’ll be in bed by then”… “The President is a Brother…” “He doesn’t know what a cassette tape is”…”It used to be all Black. Now it’s all young whites and Asians”… “It’s all about the fruits and vegetables”…”I’m beginning to sound like my Grandmother”…”I’d rather walk”…”That was 40 years ago”…”Yeah, right–wait ’til you get to fifty-five.”

Steven Ivory, journalist and author of the essay collection Fool In Love  (Simon & Schuster),  has covered popular culture for magazines, newspapers, radio and TV for more than 30 years. Respond to him via [email protected].