Oct 26th, 2007

Go West

A couple of weekends ago, the Number Two Surrogate Daughter came to visit me with her roommate. We went out to dinner and then headed back to the couch and watched “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.” There’s a scene where they stop the bus, climb out and stare into the west, as the road goes to infinity and beyond and the enormity of their journey first hits them. I’ve seen that scene myself, out in New Mexico, and it is a humbling thing to see all that space with no other sign of human existence except for that straight line of tar and gravel.

The image caused the girls to ask how big, exactly, is Australia. So we dug out the old atlas (1974) and looked up Australia’s land mass (comparable to the lower 48) and population distribution (three or four small dots on the South East coast) and traced the line between Sidney and Alice Springs. Then, because I always need to say something, I mentioned that my father had been stationed in the outback during the war. The Roommate took an audible breath and said “cooooooool. did you get to live there?” “Shit. I’m not that old, honey.” And then she said, “I didn’t even know we had men stationed in Australia.” “Uh, yeah. Pacific Theater of Operations? Japan? That whole thing?” And as we looked blankly at each other, the penny dropped for me.

World. War. Two. Not Viet Nam. The Big War. Oooooooh. Cause see? Her pop served in Nam. Yeah, that would be about right, because my FRIENDS went.  Oooooh, cause, like, her Gramps? HE served in WWII. Right? Yes. Your grandpa and my father would be the same age range.

Every now and then I have to get reminded that there is a generation or two behind me. Sigh.