First a nice-y, then a nasty. Next a sweet one, then one that invites me to play in rush-hour traffic on Shirley Highway. It has been more than two weeks since I sharply criticized yuppies in this space, and I don't think I've ever received such impassioned mail about a column. Nor can I remember the pros and cons splitting so evenly.
The pros thought, as I did and do, that yuppies are the most spoiled folks ever to set foot in a BMS showroom.
"I think there has never been a horde of better wined-dined-clad--shod-wheeled-paid sheep," writes Kay Eckles of Northwest. "They even sound alike.'
"It is a relief to know that I am not the only person in this happenin' city who thinks that Yuppieism is not the neatest concept since unstarched underwear," adds Pamela M. Upsher, a Georgetown University sophomore.
"I shudder to think that many of these same people will be the leaders of tomorrow. How sad," observes Charles E. Klimiak Jr. of Northwest.
"I have read anything that tells i more like it is,' says Emmett Vowell of Springfield.
Laurel Goethel was so firmly in agreement with Old Nimblefingers here that she sent along a prayer. She says she can "sometimes hear it uttered in the stillness of the night here in Reston."
Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray my Cuisinart to keep
I pray my stocks are on the rise
That all the wine I sip is white
And that my hot tub's watertight
That racquetball won't get too tough
That all my sushi's fresh enough
I pray my cordless phone still works
That my career won't lose its perks
My microwave won't radiate
My condo won't depreciate
I pray my health club doesn't close
And that my money market grows if I got broke before I wake
I pray my Volvo they won't take
But these cons see such jabs as generalizations -- or, to use the word Melanie A. Scott of Arlington chose "caricatures."
"Following your lead, I suppose you're typing today's column on your 1935 Underwood with a pencil stuck behind your ear," Melanie writes. " . . . This is the fast-paced '80s, Bob, and the Yuppie you described is as much of a dinosaur as the journalist I described."
Besides, Melanie contends that "BMWs are passe."
Sorry, Melanie, but caricature or not, I have never seen a yuppie in a Plymouth, and I never expect to. In fact, BMW's sales doubled in the Washington area last year (as did Volvo's, as did Saab's). Who do you think bought those cars? The unemployed?
Just as irked by Levey-on-Yuppies was Paul S. Hewitt, president of Americans for Generational Equity, a nonprofit outfit whose letterhead says it's "dedicated to forging a coalition among all generations to protect the future of young Americans."
"Yes, young folks are engaging in 'displaced consumption,' buying Betamaxes and the world's best mustard because they can't afford the important things in life like homes and children," Paul writes. "But instead of counting his blessings, Mr. Levey puts down a whole generation of unfortunates with a most self-serving display of moral superiority."
Unfortunates? Sorry, my friend, but I don't consider a young person who can spring for $60 sneakers terribly unfortunate.
Yes, it's a shame that young people are having trouble buying homes, and having trouble providing for children. But "having trouble providing for children. But "having trouble" isn't the same as "can't. Perhaps fewer Betamaxes and less mustard would produce a few down payments on a few houses, or the funds with which to handle the obstetrician's bill.
Finally, a thoughtful plea to "give us a break" from Judy Tillman of Northwest.
"I'm a Yuppie," Judy writes. "So is my husband and so are our friends. My husMy husband is a 27-year-old entrepreneur who works his butt off. yet on Sunday mornings, he and his partner get up at 5 a.m. to pick up day-old bred from a bakery and deliver it to shelters for the homeless . . .
"Every spring and autumn, I bring unwanted clothes that are in good condition to the House of Ruth. Never once have I taken a tax deduction for this. Put that in your pipe and smoke it! . . .
"We're people just like you are. We work hard. We worry about our parents. We try to find meaning and pleasure in the little things in life -- a smile from a child or the azaleas blooming in spring . . . ."
You sound pretty generous to me, Judy -- and pretty un-yuppie, too. If only other young, successful people would care as much about others, and back up that caring with action. If only it were as clear to everyone, yuppie or not, that money and symbols ultimately mean nothing, while kids and azaleas ultimately mean everything.