By Bill O'Reilly
January 24, 2002

No question about it, being a baby boomer is a mixed designation. Americans born shortly after World War II hit a lot of stuff just right: the birth of rock and roll, Elvis, the Beatles, the anti-war years, Watergate, disco, high-tech, the roaring '90s and now the new war on terrorism. Each decade has been interesting and stimulating. Now we are getting older.

But not wiser - generally speaking of course.

The baby boom generation remains a self-absorbed group of pleasure seekers still bent on the immediate gratification that television taught us as toddlers. We are the first generation of Americans to have our brains influenced by the tube, and it surely shows. We just can't get enough stuff. Four-dollar coffees - bring 'em on. Huge gas-guzzling SUVs - love 'em. Fine wine, gourmet food, designer furniture. The boomers can't get enough.

The latest trend is the spa. Everything is a spa now. Look at any travel magazine and the word spa assaults your senses on every page. I fully expect to see Vinny's Deli and Spa opening soon in my Long Island neighborhood.

Basically a spa is a place where you pay an outrageous amount of money to be pampered. Boomers love this. Spa people will rub you, wash you, exfoliate you and for a few extra bucks they might even tickle you. There is no end to the spa menu that is specifically designed to make the paying customer feel very important.

For example: At the Marriott Spa in Phoenix you can get a "desert gold facial" featuring honey and jojoba oil for $75 bucks. Men are welcome.

At the Mist Spa in Scottsdale you can get a red wine and green tea souffl‚ wrap. That treatment is supposed to eliminate toxins and soften skin. Sounds good until you get the bill. $120 bucks. For a few dollars more you can get a "dream catcher" tranquility-inducing body therapy using essential oils and heat. Using non-essential oils is illegal in Arizona.

This spa trend is definitely aimed at boomers. The greatest generation is not spa friendly. My father would burn the spa down. My mother would never let a stranger touch anything on her. Generation X doesn't have the money to burn (at least not yet). So Boomers are the target spa audience and there's no denying it.

For some reason many of us boomers feel that we are entitled to the spa life. I really don't know how this happened as most boomers were exposed to the rough and tumble "spare the rod and spoil the child" upbringing philosophy. But boomers became intoxicated with power and many other things in the late '60s, and we never forgot it. The protesting years left a major impression on us. We were the ones who knew it all. We were the ones that would change the world.

Of course things didn't quite turn out that way. Things in America are pretty much the way they've always been. People hustling to make a living and hoping their children will do better. Many of my peers who were college rebels now sit behind a big corporate desk planning their next major purchase. Power to the people, right on.

I guess the reason I am down on my generation is that we did not live up to our potential. Many of us stopped fighting for justice and turned into Martha Stewart wannabes. Things became more important than ideas or loyalties. The spa became more than a destination, it became an obsession. Pamper me, give me, buy me, do me. Lots of the "me" word floating around in boomer circles.

Soon the baby boomers will be old people, although we are fighting that every second of our lives. An elderly profile is not in the boomer handbook. So stuff is being tucked and lifted and implanted and massaged. Fifty-year-old Americans are saying the words "cool" and "awesome" to their kids who roll their eyes and put the headphones back on.

Take it from this boomer - we will not age gracefully. And we will go out kicking and screaming. But first we'll visit a spa.