Sunday, December 20, 2015

From Garbage Can Lids to Xbox: What a difference a generation makes

     Back in the day stuff was different.  The truth in this statement cannot be underestimated.  Today, my son and daughter have a plethora of toys and electronics to amuse themselves with, but back in my day....well things got interesting and downright dangerous at times.  Things have changed.  To take this idea further I'm going to employ an old fashioned compare and contrast format to show exactly how different things actually were back in my formative years.  Quite possibly an argument could be made that my generation was the last of a truly wild bunch.  It's a wonder we all survived, and while I'm sure there are children today that survive much like we did, it has definitely become a rarity.  That being said, I am extremely happy that my son is not wrecking dirt bikes or smoking marlboro lights.  That's a good thing.

     Jesse plays Call of Duty Black Ops.  We played Call of Duty Duck and Cover.  Rocks and Garbage can lids.  The garbage can lid was used as a shield against the thrown rock.  These weren't the rubber or plastic garbage can lids either, they were the straight up metal variety that made a fantastic sound when struck by a large projectile.  We played war with these weapons on a vacant lot of an unfinished house a street over from good ole Bessie Ave.  Ground zero for this type of stuff.  Jesse plays and spends time in a place called the "field."  Back in my day we spent our time at a place called the "Desert," and we would frequent an area known in local lore as the "Swamp."  Differences aplenty, and one can easily see that my generation took the idea of rough around the edges to a different level.

     Jesse and Maddie ride bicycles, but I attempted to emulate Evel Kneivel on my bike.  I jumped ditches, embankments, concrete blocks, and once I even jumped a tombstone.  That's right we hung out in the cemetery.  I grew up about 150 yards from a cemetery.  Some of my people were buried there too.  We played games in the old boneyard, and had fun doing it.  I can't imagine young Jesse doing that, but Maddie may be up for it.  She loves scary stuff so that probably wouldn't bother her.  Once upon a time, yours truly, bought a Ouija board and took a group of would be paranormal investigators up to the old cemetery at midnight on a hot, dark and gloomy Alabama summer night right after a nice July rain.  The damp conditions provided a bit of a fog, and the Ghost Hunters and I set out to conjure up some hijinks from the spirit world.  We were pretty stupid, and fueled by the vigor of youth and probably a different kind of beast (Milwaukee's Best Light.)  We got a good scare out of the adventure, but that was about it.  No spirits were awakened or harmed with the Ouija board experiment, and since then I don't really put much stock in those things.  Mind over matter really.  I don't pay them any mind, so they don't matter.

     Jesse is almost thirteen years of age, and to compare my son at 13 to me at the same age is fascinating.  At 13 I was riding dirt bikes in the aforementioned "desert," and climbing the infamous Ramada Inn Hill.  No way in the world that I could imagine Jesse doing the same.  He plays XBOX, but I barely was able to capture the Princess on old school Mario Bros. original Nintendo version.  I had only recently graduated from the Atari 2600.  Jesse can work all kinds of computers, PC or MAC it doesn't matter.  I, on the other hand, could not for the life of me figure out the Commodore 64, but I was hell on a Honda XR 100.

     My hairstyle of choice was the mullet.  Business in the front and party in the back.  How you doin?  Jesse has the Bama Bangs or Swoosh style, and to be honest it is basically in reverse of the old school mullet.  Party in the front, business in the back.  So what does it all mean?  My hypothesis contends that everything old is truly new again, but sometimes it is in reverse.  Makes sense to me in an odd confusing sort of way, but probably the actual reason for the hairstyles of choice in any generation is that "chicks dig it."  True story.  Or at least that is the belief of the red blooded American Male in their formative years.

     Things sure are different these days.  We rode in the back of pick up trucks, drank water straight from the garden hose in the back yard, went to schools that were built with cancer causing asbestos as an ingredient, and never heard of SPF 100.  I walked for miles with a fishing pole in my hand to go fishing in a creek, and after completion of my fishing business I went swimming in the same creek.  My children go to the pool, which is cool, but something special can be said about getting that creek mud between your toes on a hot summer day.  The feeling of nostalgic places and things provides comfort, and I even tried to argue that the 1980s were better than today in a blog a couple years ago.  I was trolled, heck I thought a troll lived under a bridge, but internet trolls are a completely different animal.  This "troll" said the following to my the 80s are better argument:  "There was no internet in the 80s...end of thread." I could make the same argument in opposition to the 19th century, "No antibiotics in the 1880s...end of thread."  In some respects I agree with the troll, but we still had fun.  Technology and science have provided an exciting time for my children to live in, and I look forward to what comes next.  Our ways may be archaic by today's standard, but fun was had by all I can assure you.  It's a wonder we survived.

It is a fun exercise to compare the childhood experience form different generations, and while I am happy that my children are coming of age in a time of much wonder and promise in the world there are concerns.  The only terrorist activity back in the day that I can remember involved eggs being thrown at houses, and the only guns that one had to be concerned about normally were attached to a guy who rolled his sleeves up a little too far.  The children of today have quite a bit to deal with on a regular basis, and for the most part it looks like they're doing a fine job overall.  That being said, while I could smoke my kids in a belly buster contest up at the lake they may be more well adjusted to things that really matter.  Maybe?  The truth will be revealed at a later date.  I've got faith in the youth of America!