Hurry, don’t be late. “I can hardly wait,” I said to myself, “when we’re old.” We’ll go dancing in the dark, Walking through the park and reminiscing.
— Little River Band
If you’ve got grandparents or are friends with anyone past the age of 50, you’ve no doubt heard statements that begin with the phrase, “I remember back in the day ...”
(According to comedian Dane Cook, by the way, that day was Wednesday.)
Reminiscing is a part of the natural order, but there’s a funny thing about the act. Invariably when someone starts looking back on past glories or favorite stories, the facts often change. Maybe time has a way of rendering them a little fuzzy, but it’s just as likely we like being the heroes of our own stories.
And that 3-pound bass becomes only a couple of ounces less than the state record; that end-of-the-bench asthmatic kid we struck out with the bases loaded morphs into a future Major Leaguer, and the handsomest boy in school who told us he liked our tennis shoes spent most of his senior year chasing after us.
It’s the old “I had to walk three miles through the snow to school every day” syndrome.
I’ve got enough stories saved up — They’re all absolutely true, I swear! — to regale the grandkids and anyone else who’ll listen for days, and my reminiscences of coming of age in the late-1960s/mid-1970s are filled with things that allow me to bring out the back-in-the-day card on occasion.
As I’ve said any number of times, bell bottoms, platform shoes, miniskirts, Afros and fringe vests will always be the height of fashion; and hands down the best music ever was created in the years from 1964 to 1974. (Want evidence? Check out what the cool kids are listening to now: Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, Motown ... heck, even Mickey & Sylvia’s “Love Is Strange” has been rejuvenated in a hip-hop song.)
Even with all the good memories of days gone by, though, I’m inclined to agree with Carly Simon, who noted, “These are the good old days.”
Even those of us who are glaringly challenged by the ever-changing new technology must admit that the computer and all its various offspring — do-everything cellphones, laptops, iPods, iPads, Facebook, YouTube, Angry Birds and the like — is one of the most incredible, life-changing inventions ever. Sure, it’s opened doors that should have remained triple-locked and the key thrown away, but the whole world is now available to us at our desks and in real time.
Our sports heroes before the days of ESPN and tell-all books (Jim Bouton’s “Ball Four” is still the best.) were almost godlike, but you have to wonder if even Cobb, Ruth, Mays, Robinson and Dimaggio could have accumulated all those records against opposing pitching staffs that throw regularly in the high-90s with 100-mph relief specialists ready to come in for their one inning of work.
Could Wilt, Havlicek, Russell and Cousy have become Hall-of-Famers playing against the likes of Jordan, Labron, Bird and Magic every day?
And how many of us would not even be alive today were it not for the miraculous advancements in medicine and treatment of once deadly diseases?
Automobiles are better now (granted, they’re nowhere near as cool, but you can’t have everything); agricultural breakthroughs have been amazing; and scientific discoveries are allowing us to reveal new secrets of our world and the universe itself on a daily basis.
Of course, manufacturers still haven’t come up with a way to make clothes smell as good as ones that have dried on a line in the South Georgia sunshine; mass production has lessened the pride workers once took in building products that were of the highest quality, and the work ethic that built and once defined our nation is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.
Yes, these are the good old days ... but they sure could use a heaping helping of the character that defined our country back in the day.
Email Carlton Fletcher at firstname.lastname@example.org