Boomer Goo - First To Be Chewed Out By Both Ends
of the Sandwich
By Linda M. Sittler
Lately my life has been a crazy mixture of caring for a domineering old parent and surviving the boomerang return of my youngest “adult” daughter. Just call me the “boomer goo,” the sandwich generation, the ooey, gluey, gooey stuff stuck smack in the middle of two ornery slices of bread—one from the Bob Hope generation and one from the cusp of Generation X.
Caught between two generations as far apart as the sun and the moon, I am first in the line of fire and the first to be devoured by either end of the sandwich. Being the boomer goo is pretty thankless, but somebody has to do it.
The hardest part of being stuck in the middle is trying to please everyone while not “ruffling anyone’s feathers.” That’s almost impossible when you realize the vast differences among the generations.
For example, one evening, Our Gen Xer, Cat, invites a longtime friend to the downstairs family room to watch a movie. Well, her grandma’s room is also on the lower level. So Cat introduces her male friend to Grandma and announces that they are going to watch the movie.
To Cat’s way of thinking, introducing this guy means that now the two of them can enjoy the movie in peace. She then closes the door between her grandma’s room and the family room, “so we won’t disturb Grandma,” as she puts it.
Grandma waits five minutes and then opens the door to the family room and stands in the threshold to “watch the movie.”
Cat looks up, perturbed, and spies her grandmother. This sends the elderly matriarch scurrying back to her room. Then Cat carefully closes the door again.
Five minutes later Grandma gets up and re-opens it. This goes on several more times before the guy notices how upset Cat has become about the opening and closing of doors and announces that he’s “gotta go.”
The next morning, I, the boomer goo, hear complaints from both sides. First is Cat’s turn. “Mom, I kept closing the door. Grandma kept coming in and opening it. Then she stood there and watched us. What was that all about?” Cat asks sarcastically.
After Cat leaves, I hear complaints from the oldest end of the sandwich. “Why did Cat keep closing that door? I kept getting up to open it—I needed the air—and she would get up to close it. And I saw them together. Do you know that she had her head on his shoulder? Why do you let her get away with that? It’s all your fault.”
One of the wildest clashes between Grandma and Cat happened when her grandma “accidentally” picked up the phone one evening and overheard a conversation between Cat and D.J., a new guy whom she’d just met.
The next day, the elderly matriarch proudly reveals the details of the conversation, feeling smug at having learned “by accident--of course” as much about D.J. as Cat herself knows.
A few evenings later, D.J. shows up at our doorstep, while Cat’s dad and I are out at a movie. That’s the night Cat is supposed to be “in charge of Grandma.”
So, Cat introduces her new beau to Grandma, thinking that this will gain him immediate acceptance into her good graces. Then she announces, “Oh, and Grandma, we’ll be out on the back porch swing.”
Well Grandma was not about to stay out of their way; not after she had “mistakenly” overheard D.J.’s words a few days before. “Never would I trust that boy again,” according to Grandma. “Not the way he talked. Maybe Cat doesn’t know what he’s up to, but I do.”
Cat and D.J. go out on the porch swing, with just the light of the moon behind them. It is right outside our kitchen window—the perfect place from which to spy if someone were so inclined. And that is just the plan of the elderly matriarch of our family. She was not about to let them be. Cat’s grandma sneaks up the stairs and hides in the kitchen with the lights out. She stands there watching them through the window for quite some time.
“They were okay for awhile,” she reports to me the next day. “She said something and then he said something and they laughed. But then that D.J. character got closer and he put his arm around her.”
“That’s when I stepped in. I jumped out of hiding, flipped on the lights, knocked on the window, and waved to them,” she relays.
Needless to say they were scared half to death. D.J. was so startled that he jumped up off the swing and headed straight for the door.
According to Grandma, “When he saw me standing there, he picked up his hat, carried it right to the front door, nervously put it on his head and hurried out. And that was the end of him!” she announces triumphantly.
The eldest member of our family was pleased at having “taken such good care of Cat;” especially when it was supposed to have been the other way around. Then she adds angrily, “This whole thing wouldn’t have happened if you and your husband would stay home on Saturday night! Why don’t you take care of your daughter? It’s a good thing I didn’t take my eyes off of her for one minute.”
The story from Cat’s perspective was totally different. “Mom, I introduce D.J. to Grandma, tell her we’re going out on the porch swing for a while, and expect that she’ll leave us alone and watch her TV for five minutes.”
“And before you know it, she flips on the kitchen lights, knocks on the window, and scares us out of our wits. What was she doing upstairs in the kitchen? Why don’t you tell her to stay downstairs? It’s all your fault. I bet you told her to spy on us.”
The following morning I walk into the kitchen. Cat and her grandma are having a pleasant conversation. It seems as if nothing has happened. Looks can be so deceiving. Neither one mentions her complaints to the other. They seem fine together.
But they both look at me, the boomer goo, with disdain. I am the main cause of their problems. I certainly should have prevented the whole incident. They were both mad at me under the cordial conversation.
And to this day Cat still doesn’t know that her grandma “overheard” that first conversation with D.J. or that she deliberately planted herself in the kitchen, ready to spring out at just the right moment.
But whatever happens inside the sandwich, you can always be sure that the boomer goo is conveniently to blame. And we are expected to “grin and bear it.” That is just how it is in the center of the sandwich.