While out with our friends in their new SUV, the question of whether we four senior citizens would ever own anything other than an eco-unfriendly, gas-powered vehicle was entertained.

Each couple agreed we would be pure MPG drivers until our keys were turned in — no switching to hybrids or electric for us. This admission was fine with my wife and me, as we have always been rear-guard, rather than avant-garde.

I realized that we would not be trendsetters early on in our lives together, back when we attended a New Year’s Eve party in the early 1980s, where the hosts screened a movie on the TV using a thing called a Betamax.

We appreciated the Betamax luxury of watching a fairly recent movie on TV, but it was far from our regular peak cinematic experiences in a movie theater, popcorn debris notwithstanding.

When VCRs became a fixture in homes circa 1984, we did buy one but continued to go regularly to our local movie theaters and megaplexes. We did, though, sign up for cable right away when it came to our town — but it didn’t arrive until 1990, making us the last in the area to get cable and still solidly rear-guard cable-wise.

Also in the early 1980s, we relented and added a key feature to our driving experience, gleaned from an incident on a bridge.

On our way to visit my wife’s Philly relatives from our August vacation base of Atlantic City, we got stuck on the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge for far too long on a hot day. Rolling down our windows on our 1976 Pinto didn’t invite in enough cooling air.

We weren’t on a bridge over a troubled marriage, but with each interminable minute on the bridge my wife clamored for A/C on our next car. I had to agree we needed to get with the mainstream; more than half of all cars had A/C by 1969.

Our next car, a 1984 Corolla, came with factory air, so we welcomed ourselves into the cool-car generation.

Around 1990 some friends gave us a used Apple computer. By this time, personal computers were fairly common in college-educated homes like ours; about 25% owned one. We initially made an effort to use our Apple, actually taking a course in basic use of this intriguing machine.

Honestly, though, we didn’t really get it. After taking the course, I sort of stalled out after mastering trash-bin logic. The learning curve just didn’t seem worth it.

Besides, I had a solidly effective word processor (a really smart typewriter). My wife did have a business where a computer could help, but she had her manual methods well developed.

Our Apple PC was relegated to unused junk, and we were computer-less until 1995. By this time, we were ready to be part of the home-computer generation. I had started to use PCs at work, so I was somewhat versant in Windows. We purchased an HP Pavilion and then and signed up for AOL.

I did find Word an improvement over my word processor, as I could see a whole page as opposed to an LCD of two lines. Being an information junkie, I really appreciated internet info as “knowledge at the speed of light” vs. my old reference-book world.

Even though we have gone from Windows 95 to Windows 10, we have balked at the recent trend to invite robots into our house. We do not have a Roomba or an Alexa or an Echo.

We had an Alexa, donated by our millennial son, but he mentioned that his roommate, a Microsoft IT guy, said that Alexa may possibly be spying on us. My wife does use Siri as a personal assistant, but I tough it out by looking things up myself.

Even though I am a rear-guard regular on adapting the quotidian improvements of technology, I am awed by the otherworldly possibility of a human on Mars within in the next 20 years.

Though actuarially iffy, living to see a real life “Martian” would be a great bookend for my life, together with witnessing the transcendent moment of Apollo 11’s touchdown on the moon at age 18 in 1969.

Indeed, beholding the “giant step for mankind” moment of a Martian landing will be a lifetime highlight, even if am I stuck watching it flanked by newfangled senior-citizen robot friends.


Bill Levine is a retired IT professional and active freelance writer. Bill aspires to be a humorist because it is easier to be pithy than funny. He may be reached at wlevine0607@comcast.net.

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