I Remember A Time


Whether you’re 25, 46, 71 or only 15, some days you wake up and just feel old.  You look at the world and realize today is not the day to play because the game of life has gotten too damn complicated.  You remember a simpler time when things were straightforward and you knew all the rules.  A time when the days were long and bright and the nights romantic.  I time when – well, you get the idea – a time when it didn’t seem like an endless fight just to be alive.  Don’t get me wrong: I have no desire to turn back the clock.  The good old days are a myth propagated by grumpy old people who can’t figure out why they aren’t cool anymore.  (Maybe it’s cuz they use words like cool?)  However, on a bright winter morning when the coffee’s really good and there’s jam for the toast, there’s nothing wrong with being nostalgic.

Here are a few things, from a more elegant age, that I remember.

When people dressed up for important events.  Women wore their breasts inside their clothes, and men looked like they’d taken a bath – recently.

The days when you could see the pictures in an art gallery and not the backs of a bunch of cell phones and the half faces of morons taking selfies.

When the lyrics to popular songs didn’t prominently feature body parts, sexual positions, robbery, obscenities, weapons or murder — and you could actually sing them to children.

A time when people didn’t scold each other for the sport of it.

A time when young people had all the questions, not all the answers.

The sweet satisfaction of slamming the phone down in some asshole’s ear.

The days when the relationship between men and women was not adversarial.

Irony, satire and wit.

When you could order coffee without reciting the recipe, and you got to drink it out of a real cup.

A time when ladies and gentlemen acted that way.

Lunches that didn’t come wrapped in paper and look like they’d been run over by a truck.

When gluten wasn’t the scariest thing on the planet.

The days when the “Big O” was an orgasm, not Oprah Winfrey.

A time when you could ride public transportation without being forced to listen to somebody else’s one-sided telephone conversation – 7 or 8 times.

When the truth was not a moveable feast.

A time when Hallowe’en costumes were for kids and adults had better things to do than worry about whether Pocahontas was a Disney princess or cultural appropriation.

A time when cheating in professional sports was retail, not wholesale, and the people who did it weren’t stupid enough to get caught.

And finally:

The days when you weren’t constantly looking over your shoulder for a politically correct ambush.

The Good Old Days


It’s hard to live in a time when the gods are changing, but it’s loads of fun, too.  This transitional world we live in is so full of cool it’s difficult to sort things out.  So many neat things are going on right now that I’m totally pissed I’m never going to see where they end up in 50 years.  But honestly, I haven’t completely comprehended our world for at least a decade.  Somewhere I lost track, and even though I can still fake it, there are too many holes in my knowledge to ever claim understanding again.  Fortunately, the world has gotten so large that I can just narrow my focus, avoid the stuff I don’t recognize, and keep on moving.  But there are certain things that I miss from the old world; things that were quaint and homey and comfortable.  And sometimes, I’m just a bit sad that young people will never enjoy these things.

Quiet contemplation on the bus.  In the olden days, people on buses used to sit in their own world.  They read books and newspapers.  They decided what to have for dinner.  They mulled over their problems.  Sometimes, they talked to each other in that secret mono-voice reserved for private words in public places.  They looked out the windows and thought about their lovers.  Buses were romantic places.

Cheap restaurants.  Before fast food, restaurants had neon names and vinyl seats and thick noisy plates.  The servers were waitresses and didn’t introduce themselves.  They were places to go for breakfast or meet for lunch.  Places to have conversations.  Places that had pie and the promise of more coffee if you wanted a longer afternoon.

Love affairs.  Relationships are such artificial animals.  They’re built on the premise that the clinching ache in the bottom of your belly has a beginning, a middle and an end.  They take too much thought and are almost corporate in their planning.  I prefer the days when people had love affairs that began by accident — at places like bus stops or cheap restaurants.  They took time to unfold, over longer and longer, long evenings in wood-paneled restaurants with adult only lighting.  And even though they always began as separate adventures, unlike relationships, love affairs got passed back and forth so many times that they became a jungle of intertwisted experience that could never be understood separately again.

And if you did it right:

Love affairs led to newspapers, those big Sunday thumpers that took a half a morning to read.  They had complete sections that you could trade across the breakfast table.  They were big enough to fold, so you could drink your morning coffee.  They were lazy with long stories.  They had movies you wanted to see and places you wanted to go.  They had columnists from faraway Chicago and Frisco who had something to say.  And they had crossword puzzles that might take all day — even with help.

Today might be a brave new world.  It is a brilliant place, with new and exciting things.  But sometimes I just like the feel of yesterday.

Beware the Good Olde Days

olde daysI love to bitch about the Oscars to the point where my friends (IRL) avoid me at this time of year.  If I believed in that crap, I’d say I had OCD or something, but, in actual fact, I’m just a cantankerous old fart who’s become a bore about the Academy Awards.  (FYI, a bore is someone who won’t change his mind and refuses to change the subject.)  My problem is, I remember a time when filmmaking was an honourable profession.  However, in my defence, I’m not the first person to get trapped in the Good Olde Days without an escape hatch.

Quite honestly, if you’re over 18, chances are good that the objects in your life’s rear-view mirror are distorted.  The ice cream was creamier when you were a kid, wasn’t it?  The music was sexier, the rain sadder, the sleep softer and the love — well — who doesn’t remember their first love without tears in their eyes?  This is natural.  It’s how our soul reminds us just how cool it is to be alive.

Personally, I think the Good Olde Days were brilliant, and I play “remember when” better than most people.  I wouldn’t trade any of the tales I can tell from back in the day for even a remote understanding of the techno-tawdry world we live in.  But that isn’t the problem.  As I say, a certain amount of nostalgia is good for the soul.  The problem comes when “remember when” starts to replace Friday morning, 2016.

It happens when we get lazy and don’t actually taste the ice cream anymore or sway to the music or listen to the rain.  It happens when we fool ourselves into believing that our eyes should squint with experience when we look at autumn leaves or that first crust of frost winter gives us.  It happens when we begin to think we’ve “been there/done that” too many times.  It happens when we quit doing the things we love.

Oh yeah, that reminds me: the Oscars suck!