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Dave Barry Dishes on 'Generation Text'

From letters to travel, this dad has an opinion about everything

Dave Barry, Comedien, Sitting, Portrait, AARP Interview


Humorist Dave Barry's latest book is "You Can Date Boys When You're Forty."

Dave Barry is nothing if not irreverent. In countless newspaper columns and 30-plus books over more than three decades of writing, he has used humor and insightful observation of everyday life to amuse those who are fans already and bring new readers into his tent.

See also: If Dave Barry ran the world

He gave up writing a weekly column for the Miami Herald almost a decade ago, but he still keeps readers laughing with his annual Year in Review columns. And he is no less a witness to popular trends and culture, as is clear in his newest book, You Can Date Boys When You're Forty, out this month. Here, a few excerpts from that work.

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The Post Office

Many younger people have never sent a letter. When my son, Rob, was in college, he had to send a letter for some reason that I don't remember. What I do remember is that he called me to ask some technical questions such as (I am not making any of these questions up):

  • Where could he get a stamp?
  • Were there different kinds of stamps?
  • Well then, which one should he buy?
  • How much would it cost?
  • What should he physically do with the letter when it was finally ready to go?

Rob was quite annoyed that the letter-mailing procedure was so complicated. He felt about it pretty much the way I feel about doing my taxes. Which is why Generation Text doesn't send letters, and as I say, everyone else has pretty much stopped, too. Which means that all you get in the mail these days is bills and big wads of advertising crap that you immediately throw away. Whenever I read one of those stories about a mail carrier who, instead of delivering the mail, has been putting it in dumpsters, I think: Why can't MY mail carrier do that?

Reading Habits

Every day I get the newspaper (which, for you younger readers, is a paper with news written on it) and I check the obituaries to see how many of that day's deceased were younger than I am. That gives me one number, which we will call X. Then I check the People page to see how many of the people who qualify as People and who have birthdays that day — indicating that they are still alive — are older than I am. This gives me another number, which we will also call X because at our age we have trouble remembering things. If the first X is smaller than the second X, then it was a good morning of newspaper reading. But most of the time, the first X is bigger. Sometimes the second X is zero: Not a single People-worthy birthday person is older than I am. On those days, I put down the newspaper and slowly chew my soy-based meat-free sausage with the realization that it could, statistically, be my last breakfast ever.

Travel Advice

So you're planning to take an airplane trip. Good for you! Every year, millions of people "take to the skies" for business or pleasure, and statistically only a small percentage of them are killed.

Nevertheless, if this is your first flight, or you haven't flown in a while, or you're simply one of the many stupid people found in airports, you're probably unsure about what to expect. So let's review the basics:

Q. I have an infant or small child. Are there any special preparations I should make for flying?

A. Definitely. Before you leave home, gather together whatever toys, books or games you will need to keep your child occupied. Then remain home, occupying your child, until he or she is a minimum of sixteen years old.

Q. When should I leave for the airport?

A. You should already be at the airport.

Dating My Daughter

If it were up to me, our house would be surrounded by giant (but humane) traps baited with some kind of bait that would be attractive to thirteen-year-old boys, such as fireworks or shorts that are even baggier than the shorts they're already wearing. Every now and then we'd hear the loud THWONK of a steel door slamming shut, indicating that a thirteen-year-old boy had come too close to the house. I would then go outside, and, after a stern warning, drive the boy out to the Everglades and release him into the wild.

But my wife allows them to come in. She thinks it's OK if sometimes one of them watches TV with Sophie...

When my daughter can legally commence dating (February 24, 2040) I intend to monitor her closely. I intend to do this even if I am deceased. My last will and testament will contain instructions stating that if my daughter goes anywhere in a car with a male ... the urn containing my ashes shall be placed on the console between the passenger and driver's seats, along with a little placard that says "DON'T MIND ME! YOU KIDS HAVE FUN!" The urn will also have a siren that goes off periodically.

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