Sarcasm and the Baby Boom

My grandparents celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary this week.  Sixty-eight years, people.  When I exclaimed over this to their best friend of many years, she made a shrugging gesture that was somehow audible over the phone: "You know, the first sixty-eight years are the hardest."

My grandmother's reflected, indirectly, on the secrets (challenges?) of a long marriage when I called her on the day itself: "I'm trying to be less sarcastic, which is hard, because it's been my characteristic form of humor all these years." She adopts an ironic tone: "Or what I thought of as humor.  It remains to be seen whether it was or not."

You may remember that I spent some time with my grandparents a few weeks ago in Washington.  While there, I spent some time updating my grandmother on my friends' lives.  Many of them are pregnant, and my grandmother began to tell me what childbirth was like in 1946.

"I gave birth in a municipal hospital in Oklahoma run by nuns, if you can imagine such a thing.  Every element of it is improbable on its own," [Why? I don't know.] "but put them all together.... Of the dozen wives in our little group, only one wasn't pregnant."

Me: "Yeah, it was the baby boom."

My grandmother: "No, it was Oklahoma, and there was nothing else to do."

I might have done a double-take, except that this isn't an unusual sort of witticism from my grandmother.

Me: "Er, I would have thought it was more about the return of the absent male population.  The baby boom, right?"

My grandmother: "Yes, I suppose it couldn't have been as boring as Oklahoma everywhere, all at once." [Wry smile.] "Yes, the war ended and we all jumped into bed."

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