Folks, I don’t know if you’ve spent much time on this newfangled Internet thingee, but I’m here to tell you, it is awesome! And my prediction – it’s no fad. If I were a betting man, I would wager that this World Wide Web-a-ma-thing is going to stick around. You can quote me on that!
Anyhoot, if the Internet is a familiar place to you, then chances are you have occasionally received an email or seen a Facebook post or some such social communication where somebody of a certain age (read: over 30 years old) has written or most likely forwarded or re-posted some righteous indignation about how the world was a better place in the 80s, because we had Carebears and some old lady playing the role of Wendy’s mom would say, “Where’s the beef?!”
We also generally get a proclamation of how we rode in the backs of open-bed pick-up trucks and played out in the street until dark – and we managed to stay alive! So take THAT you wicked world of the 2000s! And nostalgia kicks in, and we defend this simpler, gentler upbringing of ours with fondness and reflection.
And we think to ourselves, “It’s true! I would no sooner let my children play at the park after dark as send them to use a bathroom in a half-way house!”
Whenever my mind starts making comparisons between these two eras, I think of a very specific incident from my childhood…
Me in 1978.
When I was 8 years old, my mom signed me up for a guitar class. It was held on Wednesday evenings in an upstairs room at our local YMCA. It was southern California, 1979.
The YMCA was far enough from our house that I wouldn’t have walked there on my own, but close enough that my mom would drop me off, head home, and come back to pick me up after an hour.
A lifetime later, and I can still remember sitting in a circle with about 10 other people; all of them older than me by a minimum of 18 years. There was a bumper crop of flared jeans, blouses with lace, massive Lindsay Buckingham hair, and a lot of people calling me “little man.”
“You can really play, little man!”
“Stick with it, little man!”’
“It’s just another brick in the wall, ain’t it, little man?”
There were posters on the walls of Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, and…I think it may have been James Taylor. They all made me a little uncomfortable; and to this day, I am still oddly intrigued by Stevie Nicks.
The lady teaching the class reminded me of one of the older sisters from the cast of “Eight Is Enough.” This comforted me.
And it smelled like a YMCA, circa 1979.
It was a lot like that scene out of the movie My Girl; where the 11 year old protagonist has a weird crush on her English teacher, Mr. Bixler, so she takes a writing course from him over the summer. She is the only non-college age person in the class, and you can tell she’s in way over her head when some “peace-love-dope” kind of a girl reads an inappropriate poem that she’s written about her and her boyfriend. That’s kind of what I felt like sitting in this class. It was not an age-appropriate environment, but nobody cared.
Anyway, I came home the first night and played a song for my parents. I don’t remember what it was, but I remember them being really encouraging. Not to brag, you guys, but I pretty much nailed it.
I think I went back maybe two more times. I don’t know if that was the predetermined length of the class, or if my parents got nervous about my “new friends,” or if they thought I smelled like a “controlled substance” every time I came back… but for whatever reason – that was my short-lived brush with hippie folk-rock. And nope, I’m pretty sure I would not send my kids to such a place in today's world.
Howzabout you? What did you do as a child that you would never let your children do in 2012?