Back in the Day


I just turned 38 this week. It was a pretty good birthday, all in all. We had a little cake and I got the new Stephen King novel. We debated whether or not to go out to eat and ultimately decided against it. It was “Super Tuesday” and we wanted to see the election results. Besides, it was snowing out. We didn’t feel like driving in it.

I suppose to some people that sort of sensible behavior makes me sound kind of old. I have to admit, sometimes I do feel old. I realize that my 20th high school reunion is this year. I have friends I’ve known for 30 years or more. My son doesn’t help the situation. We were playing with his Hot Wheels cars one afternoon and I mentioned that I had Hot Wheels when I was a kid.

He looked at me surprised, “Did they look like stagecoaches?”

Ouch.

One fundamental rule of parenting that I’ve learned: what goes around comes around. I used to tweak my dad all the time when he’d bring up the “good old days” when he was a kid. That was different though; my dad used to ask for it.

He’d complain about the high price of movies. “But Dad,” I’d explain, “movies cost more because they have sound now.” [BUH-DUH-BUMP]

One rainy Sunday, I was down in the basement going through my record albums. Daniel came down to take a look, “What kind of movies are on those big DVD’s?” That was just so wrong on so many levels; I felt that it was my parental duty to set him straight.

1)These are LP’s not DVD’s.

2) They do NOT play movies.

3) I am NOT old!

4) Don’t argue with your elders!

Other times, I have to admit, I have an easy time with Daniel. He likes to talk to me about sports and all the Super Bowls I have watched over the years. I can tell him stories about history; he likes to hear all about the presidents. I like to think that he appreciates my story telling prowess; I am able to make the past come alive in a way that is interesting. However, when we talk about Andrew Jackson for example (he’s Daniel’s favorite president), I have a sneaking suspicion he thinks I can tell these stories because I remember him being president.

All kids have a sort of tunnel vision when it comes to the past. I am a big fan of the Beatles. They were technically still a group when I was born, but they broke up officially when I was a few months old. I really like their music, but I could never figure out what the big deal was when they played on The Ed Sullivan Show. The people around from that era seemed to think it was this huge defining event in their lives. I’d seen the clips and thought they were pretty good, but hardly earth shattering. It wasn’t until I saw the complete shows that I could understand the Beatles in context with what was going on. In 1964, the rest of the 60’s hadn’t happened yet.

So, armed with this new wisdom (who says an old dog can’t learn new tricks?), I was hardly mad at all when Daniel came up to me and asked – in all seriousness, “Dad, when you were a little boy, did they have chairs?” I smiled, explained that – yes – chairs had been invented by the 1970’s and that we had a very well-appointed cave when I was a kid.

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