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Old as dirt. Twice as gritty.

'Good old days'?

Every so often someone will send me one of those chain emails touting why the old days were so much better than now. I guess they see the word ‘old’ and assume that I’ll relate.
 
Wrong. I had a great time in those old days, but that said, they were hardly worthy to promote, with rose-coloured faulty memories, as something to which later generations should aspire. And to promote them in that ‘we were so much better’ way is counter-productive, because it only reminds younger generations why they hate boomers so much.
 
The good old day emails vary slightly in content but all have two things in common: they’re condescending and self-righteousness, the ‘take’ is that people today are brain-dead clueless about how to live whereas people from ‘the good old days’ were all pretty much rocket scientists in this regard.
 
“My mum used to cut chicken, chop eggs and spread mayo on the same cutting board with the same knife and no bleach, but we didn't seem to get food poisoning.”
 
You do realize that your mother was probably trying to give you food poisoning after what you did to her good dishes earlier that day? Mothers are far more vindictive that any child can imagine. At any rate, the chickens and eggs that your mother bought weren’t products of far-away factory farms, which means they weren’t nearly as contaminated by poor processing methods.
 
“Almost all of us would have rather gone swimming in the lake instead of a pristine pool (talk about boring), no beach closures then.”
 
I haven’t noticed any bored kids in pools, they look like they’re having fun, and lots of kids still swim in the lake or ocean. I mostly swam in the ocean as a kid, but was never bored in pools, because causing trouble for lifeguards is never really boring, it’s actually kind of inspiring. Especially when they turn red from murderous rages (they still had murderous rages in the good old days). As for beach closures, what thoughtless generation’s lack of environmental commonsense caused beaches to need closing in the first place?
 
“We all took PE, and risked permanent injury with a pair of Dunlop sand shoes instead of having cross-training athletic shoes with air cushion soles and built-in light reflectors. I can't recall any injuries but they must have happened because they tell us how much safer we are now.”
 
Why was it a ‘good’ thing to risk ‘permanent injury’? And what do built-in light reflectors have to do with anything? Are we looking at sour grapes here? Possibly, because I’ve seen oldies barely able to walk (maybe because of those permanent injuries from the Dunlops), hobbling along in cross-training athletic shoes with air cushion soles and built-in light reflectors. 
 
“We all said prayers in school, and staying in detention after school caught all sorts of negative attention.”
 
The only ‘negative attention’ for detention came from the teachers who were as likely to smack you upside the head as give you a detention. And what purpose did saying prayers in school achieve other than to provide a chance to throw spitballs at the teacher while everybody’s eyes were closed? Okay, looking at it that way, it is a compelling argument in favour of prayers.
 
“I just can't recall how bored we were without computers, Play Station, Nintendo, X-box or 270 digital TV cable stations.”
 
No, you weren’t bored because you were glued to the television set watching cartoons. Let’s see, which generation wins for intellectual stimulation? 
 
“Oh yeah, and where was the Benadryl and sterilization kit when I got that bee sting? I could have been killed!
 
Yes . . . yes, you could have been, but, to the dismay of young people everywhere who have received your email, you weren’t. But although the bee didn’t kill you, smugness might, especially once you’re a frail oldie fully dependent on the recipients of that email. The recipients with the good memory.
 
“We played ‘King of the Hill’ on piles of gravel left on vacant construction sites and when we got hurt, mum pulled out the 48 cent bottle of mercurochrome (kids liked it better because it didn't sting like iodine did) and then we got our butts spanked.”
 
I preferred iodine. I liked the sting. Because in the good old days we were nothing if not weird.
 
“Now it's a trip to the emergency room, followed by a 10-day dose of a $49 bottle of antibiotics and then mum calls the lawyer to sue the contractor for leaving a horribly vicious pile of gravel where it was such a threat.”
 
Piles of gravel can be ‘horribly vicious’? Really? I need to meet that pile of gravel, I want to sic it on someone. Does it pray?
 
“To top it off, not a single person I knew was ever told that they were from a dysfunctional family. How could we possibly have known that?”
 
Is this person saying that all families were perfect back then? Or that they were all screwed up and nobody was sane enough to realize it? I’ll opt for the latter, because if ever there was a time of dysfunctional families, the ‘good old days’ 50s patriarchal era was it. Gay? In hiding, because if you were gay you kept it to yourself in order to survive, and you suffered for having to do this. Female? You were a second-class citizen both in society and in the home. Abusive marriage or parents? You betcha, but hey, you probably deserved that slap. Molested by a nefarious uncle? That’s why wall-to-wall carpet was invented, to sweep such things under it. As with the term ‘dysfunctional’, nobody was ever told they were in an ‘abusive’ situation, they just were, in those heady halcyon days.
 
“We never needed to get into group therapy and anger management classes.”
 
No, because in the good old days there was no accountability for anger. Frustrated with your life? Beat the wife. Enraged by something someone did? Spank the kid. Then have a drink or ten and smoke another pack of cigarettes.
 
“How did we ever survive?”
 
Indeed. 
 
And the answer is, of course, that we survived in order to annoy younger generations with ‘good old days’ emails. It’s that simple. And to every oldie who thinks that such emails will help younger generations see the light, ask yourself this: How did you like it when older generations lectured you on their‘good old days’? Did you say, “OMG, I’ve been doing it all wrong?” Yeah. That’s what I thought. Delete the email, nobody wants to read it. 


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About the Author

This bio was written by Jo Slade. As you can see she has written about herself in the third person. What normal person would do that? They just wouldn't. Who knows how many other persons might be involved in this thing, a second person? Another third? I worry about it. I - she - we - can't even keep it straight, this paragraph is a damn mess, there are persons all over the place. Round 'em up and shoot 'em. That's what I'd do, and by golly I think that's what Jo Slade would do as well.

Biographic nutshell: Jo has been messing around with words for a long time. Sometimes she'll just say words instead of writing them, it saves on paper.

This column: The columns that will appear here are of a highly serious and scholarly nature, therefore it is advised that you keep a dictionary and ponderous thoughts nearby.

If, after reading the column, you find yourself tossing and turning at night, burning with the need to email me, just do it. I answer to [email protected]




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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

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