Each decade has its own unique characteristic, which slowly but maturely unfolds as the particular events and people fall into place to complete the picture as years pass.
There are many ways to characterize each past decade, one of which is a collection of famous quotes which both reflected and influenced the significant historic events and culture of each period. These quotes, both inspirational and not so inspirational, have forever seared into our collective memory, serving as reference points for fond as well as sobering reminiscences.
I came of age in the 1980's. The most defining moment came when Ronald Reagan stood before the Berlin Wall and declared, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."
Even though President Reagan's role in the death of Communism remains subject to debate, to this boy who had lost several of his relatives to a Communist regime, his unthinkable, but bold proclamation was deeply gripping and inspiring. And lo and behold, the Berlin Wall crumbled down right before our eyes a few years later along with other holdouts of Communism around the world.
Then came the 1990's. I have yet to make a selection between Johnny Cochran's "If it doesn't fit and you must acquit," and President Clinton's "I did not have sexual relations with that woman Monica Lewinsky." I promise to finalize my choice before the current decade is up. It has been agonizing.
But I will say this. With Al Queda breathing down on our neck, and the quagmire in Iraq, I now long for that decade in which we briefly enjoyed a reprieve with neither Communism nor international terrorism weighing heavily on our nation's psyche.
Since this decade isn't over yet, we will not know what the defining quote will be until 3.5 years from now, but at this point, I cannot even think of a good candidate.
What if no meaningful quote emerges from public figures by December 31, 2009? And who says only public figures are entitled to creating historic quotes? How about ordinary Americans just like you and me?
About four months ago, I paid a dreaded visit to the dental office. Despite my diligence with dental hygiene, the hygienist did her usual ritual of nipping at my heels about certain parts of my gums which I supposedly had neglected.
It became tiresome and repetitive. I floss more than anyone that I know. I brush more laboriously than anyone. So yeah, whatever.
Sensing my attitude, she whipped out a hand mirror and placed it right in front my face, and said, "Look at yours," then flashed her own gums, "And look at mine. See how mine are nice and pink."
Look at yours and look at mine.
My back hairs stood up: Both of them.
It has been four months since that incidence, so why am I blogging about it now you ask?
Here's the deal. I'm on edge tonight because tomorrow at 8:30 AM, I will be walking into the local Kaiser hospital for my annual physical exam.
Not the doctor. Not the nurses. Not the receptionist. And certainly not the 250 pound parking lot security guard who always greets me with that creepy smile.
AND THAT GOES FOR YOU TOO.