The Asheville Boomers Are Breaking

Editor’s Note: The header photo of my kitchen plastic of bag of bags is peak boomer behavior, learned and passed down by two boomers who are functioning just fine: my parents.

I wasn’t ever one to get into the “Ok, Boomer” trend, mostly because I think generalizing an entire generation is lazy. Every older generation thinks the younger generation has it too easy and is massively fucked up, and every younger generation thinks the older generations are hopefully out of touch. That being said, Baby Boomers did pretty much hand us Donald Trump on a platter, are responsible for Fox New’s dominance, and based on a couple of interactions I’ve had/read about right here in Asheville regarding those once removed from the Greatest Generation, I’m starting to think that as a generation, they are fundamentally broken (even if some individual members—like my lovely parents—are doing just fine). 

Example 1: More Gym Horrors

It must be stated that both the events of this example happened on the same day, within an hour of each other. 

Example 1A:

I was at my gym one nondescript morning when I entered the sauna. After a couple of minutes, another man comes in. He’s about my father’s age and is wearing the following outfit:

  • A cable-knit, woolen-looking turtleneck sweater. 
  • A cable-knit, half-zipped sweater on top of that. Now, Pat, you might be saying, maybe this man just wants to sweat, which, fine—some people wear sweat suits in the sauna—but these were, like, nice Ralph-Lauren style sweaters built exclusively for apres ski situations or pretending that you have a country club membership and grandmother named Bunny. 
  • A woolen hat (cable-knit, obviously) with the requisite pom-pom.
  • Birkenstocks with thick, winter knee socks. 
  • A pair of shorts so thin, short, and practically translucent, he should’ve gotten hit with a public nudity charge.

Now, people can wear what they want when they want, but based on the fact that he was listening to the Joe Rogan podcast as high as he could, I’m assuming his reasoning was 100% due to some pseudoscience bullshit. 

Example 1B:

On the same day—SAME DAY—I witnessed another man (also looking to be my father’s age-ish) taking a god-damn shit in a bathroom stall with the door wide open, greeting fellow gym goers as they entered and exited the bathroom. Now, as one friend pointed out, was this man flirting with dementia because, in this case, that would be sad and not an indication that the generation once removed from the Greatest One is broken?  I’m going to give an emphatic “no.” This same gentleman has started conversations with me before, and while he seems ignorant (he’s one of those people constantly asking to “work in” with you, even at a mostly empty gym), he seems cogent enough.

Strike one (or two?) for the Boomers. 

Editor’s Note: Using “around my father’s age” as a descriptor is likely wildly inaccurate. My dad is 65, and I don’t consider him an old man (not that I’d ever tell him such—it’s important to keep your parents on their toes). He’s not out of touch, has the capacity to learn and change his viewpoints, and is in better shape now than he was ten years ago. I credit all these things to keeping him somewhat well-preserved. On the other hand, at some point, some people decide just to give up evolving, and—using my pseudoscience bullshit beliefs, naturally—I believe this ages a person. These men could be 65…they could also be rode-hard late 40’s. 

Example 2: The Asheville Pickleballers ARE NOT OK

I’ve wanted to talk about this exhibition of deeply unhealthy behavior for a while, but I just needed an organic reason. It involves Boomers…and pickleball. 

I need to acknowledge here that I’m fully biased in this situation. I’m a pretty avid tennis player and have had negative run-ins with Asheville’s extremely rabid pickleball “community,” which I’ve documented in both the pages of the Asheville Citizen-Times and this here blog. I honestly had gotten so sick of fighting entitled pickleballers for tennis-court time that I haven’t played in almost a year.

This past March, my parents were visiting for a long weekend. The Sunday morning they were here, I woke up from where I was on my couch, completely wide awake at 5 AM. Not wanting to wake my parents by getting up and making noise, I decided to head out to Starbucks and catch up on some writing until a more reasonable hour. 

I got to the Starbucks on Charlotte Ave right around 6:00 AM. Keep in mind that it’s March, so cold and dark still. As I waited in line, I heard the two gentlemen in front of me talking about how they were heading to play pickleball at Weaver Park…in fifteen minutes. 

Since I’m completely invested in the Asheville pickleballers’ composite insanity, increasingly petty, and always need inspiration for content (this blog doesn’t write itself…yet), I got my chai, abandoned the table I was going to work at, and headed to drive past Weaver Park. What I witnessed was not ok. Two…TWO… pickleball games were in progress, both illuminated by a series of portable fluorescent construction lights that gave the whole thing a very opening-of-the-original-Jurassic-Park vibe. 

What makes this whole thing completely unwell is that I don’t think these gentlemen were out pickleballing before the sun came up because they enjoy the crisp morning air—I’m a pre-sunrise hiking enthusiast, so I’d get that—but because these pickleballers are so competitive about getting a court and staying on it for hours—and entitled that this is ok to do—that no hour was too early to metaphorically piss all over their territory.

Think I’m being hyperbolic? Check out some choice excerpts from the June 2022 Citizen-Times article “After yearslong fight, impassioned Asheville pickleball players call for dedicated courts.”

USA Pickleball Association Ambassador for Buncombe County, Yira Pia Sanchez,

Here’s what the USA Pickleball Association Ambassador for Buncombe County, Yira Pia (WHAT????), had to say about the lack of pickleball courts in the city. “We have been very patient. We have been waiting the last five years,” Sanchez said. “We believe our community is not being served.” 

Listen, I’m all for the needs of a community being met, but in Asheville, beset by homeless issues, affordable housing issues, and a lack of police presence, is and should pickleball be the priority? These jokers think so:

And lately, Asheville’s pickleballers can also be found packing the back rows of Asheville City Council meetings, wearing bright orange, the color of their signature ball, and lobbying for a unified demand: Dedicated pickleball courts. 

It gets better:

That’s part of the problem, said Sanchez — pickleball players are forced to lug in 40-pound nets and are often competing with tennis players for space, a friction she said dedicated courts would help avoid. 

“I get emails and phone calls from everywhere,” Sanchez. “And I’m embarrassed to say, ‘We love Asheville, it’s a beautiful town, we have a beautiful pickleball community, but sadly we don’t have a place for you to play.'”

And better:

In April, orange-clad pickleball players made themselves known at City Council and have been to every council meeting since.

“We are in it for the long haul with you,” Christina Dupuch told City Council on the first of many evenings. Behind her, fluorescent orange pom-poms rippled from an energetic cheer squad of players. 

And better:

“Pickleball was my salvation,” said Claudia McGrath, a new Asheville resident who moved to town from North Dakota in the middle of COVID. “That was the way I met people. For a lot of people, not just me, it’s been kind of a lifesaver in the midst of the pandemic.”

Pickleball is a lifesaver. Rich stuff

Susan Dixon, another player, moved to Asheville from California sight unseen. She said it was pickleball that offered her a community.

Imagine moving somewhere, sight unseen, and then immediately donning neon orange and showing up to city council meetings before you even have a feel for your new home dressed as some kind of handmaiden from a Karen fever dream? 

Ok, Boomer. 

Editor’s Note: For the record, I’m not some kid who believes adults don’t get it. I’m a 37 year old adult myself who’s been around the block long enough to see the start of some kind of societal collapse when it stares in the face.

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