B is for Benchmark – The Progressive, 7/19/2007

Apiculturalists have answered that famous Hamlet multiple-choice, existential question: a. to be or b. not to be. The answer is b, not to be. On the West Coast, 60% of the bee colony has gone missing. On the over-achieving East Coast, 70% are has bee-ns. This latest plague upon the land is called Colony Collapse Disorder [CCD].

CCD, occurs when a hive’s inhabitants suddenly disappear, leaving only queens, eggs and a few immature workers. Sounds like a planning meeting I once attended for a gay protest at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll. Each day I check urban legend debunking sites for news that some bored high schoolers from North Dakota started the rumor. So far nothing.

Apian scientists posit many causes for the deaths of the bees: mites, pesticides, radioactive waves, cell phones, genetically altered foods, global warming or all of the above. I think it’s Starbucks in the ground water. Absorbed by plants, the caffeine makes the bees busy-busy, then crazy-busy, then dead from overwork. No more little bees’ knees jutting from peonies, obscenely pantalooned in pollen.

Albert Einstein, one Alberto we can believe, said that after the bees disappear, humanity has about four years left. I don’t want to sound like some Nostra Dame, but we have already begun to see a corollary collapse. It is BBCC, Baby Boomer Colony Collapse. Quite frankly, I couldn’t be happier. And I am one.

My Baby Boom generation has been endlessly, tediously fascinating to itself. Spawn of World War II, we grew up on Spocks. We rocked from Elvis to the Beatles. The Vietnam war was our first quagmire. We did drugs, inhaled, fought for civil rights for women, blacks and gays. Love meant never having to say you’re sorry. Our idealism was supposedly killed with Martin Luther King and the Kennedys.

Some late boomers got conservative, corporate, rich, did cocaine. In our inevitable fifties, many did Viagra, Botox and hormones. Aided by our Uncle Toms – Brokaw and Hanks – the rich, who had not served in the first quagmire because they had other priorities, grew nostalgic for those so-called greatest generation wars. When attacked in 2001, we were pumped up and ready. We gave ourselves rhetorical goose bumps about freedom goosestepping. Iraqnam.

Talkin’ ‘bout my generation, George Bush, King Baby-Boomer-in-Chief and his loyal cronies, have not represented well. The defining moment of his “administration” is not 9.11 but Reno 911, a cable cop show whose tagline is, “No one does a better job of not doing a better job.” The BushClintonBushClinton [BCBC] double helix of hubris is the buzzkill of BBCC. Though Hillary is a woman, there’s cold comfort on the farm with, “You go to the polls with the candidate you have, not the one you wish you had.”

Now in our sixties, we are terrorized by death and, of course, no one has ever experienced that quite so exquisitely. It is unseemly for us to be called Baby Boomers. We are Geezer Boomers. We should just get out of the way – work for Habitat for Humanity, do Meals on Wheels, be Literacy volunteers. I’m sorry. Our work here is done. It’s time to step away from the hive.