So we're getting into the new school year routine, and it's going very well. We wake at what must be 3 in the morning. My coffee tastes like cigarette butts. Posh looks as though she's been playing poker all night.
You know, back problems remain my favorite part of middle age. After that, I'd probably say it's the unrelenting insomnia that I enjoy the most.
After waking up too early, I spread the paper out on the kitchen island like a giant placemat. The daily paper gives me a sense of continuity. I like the way it feathers the fingertips. I also like the way it catches bagel crumbs.
My revenge on front-page newsmakers is to sprinkle them, each morning, in the face with bagel crumbs and jelly. Tycoons, rappers, superstar quarterbacks. Doesn't matter. In general, I hate newsmakers. In the worst cases, I intentionally splash them with sooty coffee.
Anyway, as you can tell, it's going pretty well, our mourning routine … we're still getting into the rhythm of it. This year, the little guy enrolled in a Zero Period class that starts at 6:40 a.m., which means leaving the house at 6:20 or so.
No problem there. I like the concept of Zero Period. Apparently, there weren't enough periods, so they rolled the day back, to start as critically early as possible, because that's when teenagers are at their very best — at dawn, the smudge that separates night from day, darkness from revelation.
Look, I don't want to waste my youth grumbling about things I cannot change. School years, like celebrity romances, are generally over in nine months anyway.
I mean, what do I know? I wear socks with Crocs and still play Stephen Bishop songs at dinner parties. And at back-to-school night — an event to live for, an experience I've enjoyed maybe 400 times — an administrator assured us that Zero Period was working out quite well.
Increasingly, modern life is beyond satire. You can't goof on it. It goofs itself. We are currently a country obsessed with student test scores, profit margins, on-base percentages. We're goofy.
I'm grown a little numb on all these numbers. Big data? Big deal.
The millennials get it. They don't crave results as much as they do authenticity and experiences.
And, yes, we know the millennials. Roughly 19 to 35 years old, they are the most-fussed-over generation in American history. We've hovered over them since they were born, installed baby monitors to capture their every sneeze, done their homework, fretted over their post-game snacks.
When they were young, we insisted that everyone get a trophy. As they got older, we thought they should all get their own Ivy League schools.
(For the record, my parents didn't even know where I went to college. And I spent junior year abroad — at a dive bar on the edge of campus.)
Anyway, each day there seems to be another study about millennials. They are our fresh-baked bread, our cause for hope in a world all a-twist.
Because there are 75 million of them, millennials are seen as a leading indicator of the economy, hot sectors, cool trends. According to most studies, the millennials are open minded when it comes to coffees, cultures and food truck cuisine.
For the most part, this is all good.
Until you come to the latest study — out in August — that found younger millennials are having less sex than any generation in 60 years.
Wait … what?
The study, in a journal called the Archives of Sexual Behavior (best known for its swimsuit edition), found that millennials born in the 1990s are twice as likely to be sexually inactive in their early 20s as the generation before them.
I'm not sure what we can do about this national disgrace, except hope that politicians will soon get involved. In front page stories, sprinkled with bagel crumbs, we will see them vow to take ownership of the problem.
"It is our grandest hope that, some day soon, young people everywhere will resume having sex again," they will say into the cameras.
In no time, we will see college campuses promoting sex as a healthy outlet for young people. As if selling soap, or soft drinks, Madison Avenue will come up with a slogan or two.
"Sex. It's not just for your parents anymore."
Or, as during times of drought: "Save the species — shower with a friend."