For some reason, a conversation I had with a Soldier in Korea just popped into my head for no reason. This actually happens a lot – some poor, forgotten neuron trying to get my undivided attention. Anyway, the significance of this conversation comes down to me mentioning President Reagan (The Great One) and the Soldier then asking me, “President who?” After manually closing my mouth, I then determined he was all of 19 years old, younger than my daughter. I had likely spent more cumulative time sitting on a toilet during my life than he had spent in the Army.
These realizations always surprise me for some reason. I guess it’s kind of like when I was a kid, and when aunts and uncles would visit they’d exclaim loudly how tall I’d gotten, when from my point of view, not a lot had changed and I was mainly of the opinion things could probably go a bit faster. So sometimes I reflect on stuff that my kids won’t ever have to do, or from another point of view, stuff they’ll never get to enjoy…
* Having to actually leave your house to see a movie. For some reason, movies were better then. Maybe because Hollywood had actual creative people writing original scripts as opposed to just ripping off comic books one after the other.
* Shopping, for that matter, required your physical presence at the vendor’s location. This isn’t dead yet, luckily. I like that I can pick from the bin of tomatoes to get the ones I am willing to eat. Though I loathe shopping for clothing, I will admit that when I’m forced to, trying stuff on is a good thing.
* Having to stand in one particular spot in the house to use the phone. Wasn’t it awesome when Dad finally bought the fifteen-foot curly cord so you could be in the kitchen while on the phone? Sadly, I think, there also was a time that if you couldn’t come to the phone, then nobody could get ahold of you.
* Recording music was a pain in the ass. You had to use static or heavy equipment, and then pray the DJ didn’t start babbling over the target song’s lead-in or end notes. Mix tapes were work! Tape players that could sense the dead spot between songs were The Bomb.
* Vinyl records. Care and feeding required, and no matter how religiously you cared for them, they eventually sounded staticky and fuzzy. CD’s were a definite improvement. Now, with the right player, I can carry around ALL of my music.
* Writing something for a school project and either using White Out or ripping the page out and starting over from the top of the page. Do they even sell White Out anymore? I know typewriters are mainly not available anymore. I really can’t complain about this development at all.
* Having the massive selection of about fifteen channels to choose from. Even better, some of us as kids were the remote control.
* Missing a program. Used to be that if you missed the broadcast of your favorite TV show, well, you were definitely shit out of luck. Maybe you could watch the listings during rerun season and catch it, but probably not. Ironically, the older I get the fewer shows there are that I give a damn about seeing. I also recall thinking about how massively cool it would be to fast forward through commercials. Guess what? Win!!
* Writing to someone required paper, a pen or pencil, an envelope, and a stamp. And thought. And basic English skills. Who knew we would be able to do it instantaneously but there is a new language involved in it? LOL wut r u doing? WTF.
I do really hope that some stuff doesn’t go away. I don’t think I’ll ever abandon real, bound books. I can’t say the new electronic formats are bad, particularly because at my rate of book accumulation, I project that someday I will have to buy a house just for them. What’s astounding to me is thinking about all the amazing stuff my Dad watched happen over his lifetime, and then consider that I’m only halfway (?) through mine now. People still occasionally rode horses when he was a kid, and right after we’d moved to California, I remember him waking me up one night to watch Apollo 17 land on the moon. I read somewhere that there’s more computational power in my BlackBerry now than rode in the Command Module of those spacecraft.
If this strikes a chord with you as you read it, add a comment because I know I’ve overlooked probably a lot of stuff.