Aug. 20, 2001: Just when I thought there was nothing left to look forward to

but a rocking chair and Metamucil, doggone if a couple of old guys don’t pull off a major coup. The Coca-Cola Company has announced that they are bringing back 65-year-old Brian Dyson as their chief operating officer. Hurrah! Then beleaguered General Motors hires 69-year-old car designer extraordinaire Bob Lutz to put some pizzazz in their fuddy-duddy line of automobiles. Double hurrah!

Take that, you Chardonnay-sipping hard bodies! You’ve had your day. Now the old folks are making a comeback. Pretty soon, when you step into an elevator you will hear nothing but Mantovani music. (Who is Mantovani? Look him up between trips to the sushi bar.) All you rappers be prepared for less Gangsta Boo and Little Phat J and more Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald. I can’t wait to hear your car windows rattle with Glenn Miller’s “Sunrise Serenade.” And from now on, the operative words are “Yes ma’am” and “Yes sir” and anybody saying, “Have a nice day” or “Yo” is going to be sent to North Dakota with no chance of parole. Life is good!

I had about decided that we old folks were the Forgotten Generation. I have more free time and more expendable income than at any time in my life but nobody wants my business. I am not in the right demographic target market. That is another way of saying I shave every day, which makes me too old for most advertisers. Television advertising is created by a bunch of kids barely out of puberty. They think that their peers are the only ones buying anything except Viagra pills and that the best way to reach them is to create commercials with screaming announcers and music that sounds like a Caterpillar tractor engine. Even the New York Stock Exchange, of all places, is running a television commercial that is hard to distinguish from an album of Puff Daddy’s One And Only Hit. (As if kids with braces and acne are suddenly going to quit buying music videos and start buying stock.) That is about to change, boys and girls.

When Mr. Dyson arrives at Coca-Cola, I hope he will make his first order of business getting Coke out of aluminum cans and back in the familiar old green bottles where it belongs. And while he is at it, I wish he would put on the bottom of the drinks again the towns where the Coca-Cola was bottled. It used to be great fun to buy a Coke and see where it was originally bottled and argue over whose soft drink was from the longest distance away. Obviously, Dyson will have to make an exception for the state of Alabama and put “Open Other End” on the bottles over there; otherwise, they’ll never figure it out.

Over at General Motors, Bob Lutz is expected to work the magic that made him a hero at Chrysler. It was Lutz who designed the PT Cruiser, the hottest vehicle on the road these days and a must-have for all the yuppies or Gen-Xers, or whatever they call themselves. What they don’t know is that the PT Cruiser looks exactly like my Uncle Arthur’s 1938 Oldsmobile on which I learned to shift gears. I predict that Lutz will get GM out of their doldrums with an exciting new model based on the 1950 Studebaker. Then, hopefully, the In Crowd will fall all over themselves selling their gas-guzzling SUVs in order to own this latest trendsetter, while we old geezers laugh our heads off.

If we can get more folks like Dyson and Lutz into positions of power, you are going to see a lot of changes for the better. There will be more family programming on television and less of those stupid “reality” shows. There will be more neighbors talking over the backyard fence and less E-Mail. More kids playing Fox and Hounds. Fewer playing video games. More smiles. Fewer pagers. More service representatives. Less “Punch 1 if you have a problem.” More Red Skelton. Less Dennis Miller. More worship. Less selfishness. More love of country. Less emphasis on hyphenating our heritage.

Maybe having a couple of old guys suddenly get big jobs in two of our largest corporations isn’t a groundswell, but it is a good start. If nothing more is accomplished than getting Cokes back in those little green bottles and gas-guzzling SUVs off the road, the changes will have been worth it.