I realize I’m getting older and that I’ve spent the last 14 years raising children — specifically, boys. I don’t expect to fully understand the Kardashians, One Direction, or earrings that make large, open holes in people’s ears. I’m aware that these things have become part of regular pop culture, and I know of their presence in the same tangential way that I know my neighbor is cooking hamburgers when I smell the charcoal. But I don’t take much time to research beyond that.
There are three relatively new phenomenons, however, that confuse me. They seem to have become mainstream while no one — er, I — wasn’t looking. These trends are: dogs in purses, permanent hoarseness in young females’ voices, and a new, and a way less funny, pronunciation of Uranus.
I have no idea when carrying your dog in your purse became a thing. I grew up with the rule that only service animals were allowed in stores and restaurants. Taking my first dog, named Tanner, to PetSmart was a novel treat: my four-legged, furry friend was actually going into a store with me! She would ride in the shopping cart and go through the checkout line and everything. It all felt a little like that dream where you’re taking an exam in your pajamas. Sometimes I went to PetSmart for the sole purpose of taking Tanner shopping with me.
Tanner died in 2003, back when the world was a service-animals-only society. Somehow, between then and now, carting your dog around in your purse became a thing. I don’t know if an election was held to vote on this, but it seems like everyone else just knew that it would suddenly be okay to go to the bookstore, post office, and even the grocery store, with your pet, so long as he is carried in a sack.
The dog I have today is 45 pounds. He is famous for eating one-pound of sliced turkey off the kitchen table and chewing the head off the boys’ toy Darth Vader. He would no more get inside my purse than he would pass up the chance to chase a duck across the lake. The only way I’m getting Sparky in a sack is if it’s an edible one made of bacon. And then, well, there wouldn’t be any sack left.
The next curious development is what seems to be an evolutionary change in young women’s voices. I can spot a 20-something female by her voice alone over the phone. It’s always slightly gravely and deep, like they are suffering from strep throat or about to break out in baritone. And I have to say, it sounds pretty cool. I just don’t know when and how it developed.
Did these girls go to a special school to learn to talk like that? Has DNA quit making the regular kind of vocal chords that my generation possess? Perhaps there are popular vocal artists responsible for influencing this change, or was there one worldwide popular high school senior who talked this way and started a movement?
Then again, my generation is separated from the generations before us by our handwriting. Okay, maybe that’s oversimplifying it. But, anyone born between 1900-1960 does not dot their “I”s with hearts. So maybe this is the next step. First handwriting changes, and then, when handwritten notes become extinct, generations must define themselves with the spoken word.
And while we’re on the subject of spoken words, I learned in fifth grade science that the seventh planet from the sun is pronounced ū·rā’·nәs. That’s a long A in there, which made this the funniest planet in the universe.
Did you know you can see Uranus without a microscope?
How old is Uranus?
Uranus is bigger than the Earth.
Uranus has 27 moons orbiting around it.
Uranus jokes are endless. When I took my three boys to the Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., I felt like a bad human being because I couldn’t stop laughing. And then one of my son’s said, “Mom, it’s pronounced Youra-ness.”
What? Who says?
Apparently scientists — or was it elementary school teachers? — changed the pronunciation of Uranus while I was busy raising kids. I don’t know when or why. To me, the best part about this is imagining the executive board meeting that might have been responsible for the change and what its minutes probably looked like:
“We have to put a stop to the jokes about Uranus.”
“Uranus is ruining the decorum of my science class.”
“I can’t talk about Uranus with a straight face.”
“Kids are giggling about Uranus in class.”
All of which shows that although I have aged and matured, my sense of humor definitely has not.