They leaned over the kitchen table, matching bookends on either side of volumes of generations. NPR broadcasters mumbled background from the kitchen counter. Outside the window, the corn was as high as an elephant’s eye. The wooden table, witness to countless seasons of differing opinions, stretched soft and satiny between the two, worn smooth by lifetimes of love and acceptance.
“Way back in my day,” Emil barked, “we did not ask such questions.”
“But perhaps it’s time we did, Grampa,” Julie ventured. She rotated her coffee cup on the wooden table and began again. “It just seems like the world is going straight to Hell. Everyone is being so stupid!”
“People are no more stupid now than they were before,’ he glowered, stared into his empty coffee cup. “You think you know so much with your internet and social networking…”
Julie raised her head in surprise.
“Yes, I’m familiar with these things,” he smirked. “But just because you have more information now doesn’t mean you know anything more than we did, back in my day.”
“What are you saying?”
“It’s a case of bananas/no bananas, kiddo.”
“What?” she shot him a side-eye. “Grampa, are you losin’ it?”
They glared at each other, hands clutched around their mugs. In the tense silence that followed, the radio offered up a soothing track from Keith Jarret’s Köln concert, a music interlude between one story and the next.
Emil sighed. “Bananas/No bananas. News/Fake news. Way back in my day, we called it propaganda. We didn’t know what was really going on, either.”
“But we have access to so much information, from so many different sources!”
“Reporting the news. It’s the world’s second oldest profession.” He chuckled.
“Grampa!” she gasped. “Then what are we supposed to do? Just give up? I, for one, am not going to stand by and let the world implode!”
“And so you shouldn’t,” he slid his hand across the table, palm up. “I’m just saying that people are no more stupid now than they were before. Just use the good sense God gave you, mind your personal code, treat others with respect, and we’ll all be fine in time.”
“I’m afraid to believe.”
But she put her hand in his and squeezed.
© Liz Husebye Hartmann (2017)
(based on Midtown Writers prompts “Way back in my day” and “Bananas/Not bananas”)