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Mad Man 

I don't know about you, but I am almost vibrating with anticipation over this weekend's return of Mad Men, AMC's meticulous re-creation of life at a Madison Avenue ad agency in the early 1960s, now entering its fourth season.

It isn't only that Mad Men is the best show on TV, like the Great American Novel come to the cathode ray—sorry, plasma—screen. No, now that the show has successfully integrated, and navigated, the Kennedy assassination, it has arrived at 1964, the year I was born. This unapologetic self-absorption might be the only trait I share with the baby boomers, the generational mass which preceded me.

What's that? Demographers define boomers as anyone born between 1946 and 1964? Sorry, I disagree.

From the start of 1946 to the last quarter of 1963, sure, but 1964? No way. My wife—a boomer herself—once offered a far more accurate parameter: If you were born after World War II and while Kennedy was still alive, you are a boomer. After that day in Dallas, it was a different world.

Like everyone I know born in 1964, I reject the honor of belonging to the boomers, demography be damned. It isn't just that we spent a lifetime getting their pop culture hand-me-downs, threadbare and patched with thrice-sewn peace symbols, our clogs and Chucks echoing down high school halls built for larger graduating classes, and always being made to feel we had just missed out on something. It went the other way, too, as we often found we had little in common with the so-called Generation X, an even more vague and abused sticker. The Gen Xers just lumped us in with the dreaded boom.

This bothered me a bit over the years, this never quite fitting neatly in a box. But then one of those Facebook memes popped up, asking, "What was the No. 1 song the week you were born?" A quick visit to Wikipedia offered the answer, "There! I've Said it Again," by Bobby Vinton. And then, this little nugget: "This song is significant because it marks the dividing line between the 'innocent years' and the 'Rock and Roll era'—more specifically, it was the last song to reach number one before The Beatles' 'I Want to Hold Your Hand' topped the chart."

Finally, I had the proof that I was a true cusp child, sitting cleanly on the continental divide of the American Top 40. I didn't belong to either demographically sanctioned marketing group, and I couldn't be happier.

This is, of course, pointless and stupid: How can I not have things in common with those born a few years before or after me? The Vinton song was actually a cover of a 1945 big band hit by Vaughn Monroe, proving the cyclical nature of generations. While I've sometimes struggled to understand co-workers and friends who are 10 or 15 years removed, I get along smashingly with those who are two whole decades younger.

Of course, if you're as excited as I am about new Mad Men episodes, that's all the demographic we need, anyway.

  • Like everyone I know born in 1964, I reject the honor of belonging to the boomers, demography be damned.

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