R is for Remembering
I am currently blogging, along with my daughter, all the way through the alphabet. Check out how the idea started, and get the rules here.
A while ago a friend forwarded an email that explained, in a pretty funny way, the differences between growing up right now and growing up in the 70’s and early 80’s. I felt inclined to share it with my girls as not only humor, but as a learning experience for them, so I commented on various parts of it, and began and ended it with a note to them. This post is a reprint of that email to my girls. I don’t know who the original author was, so I cannot attribute it to anyone. I have made very few changes to language and grammar. — Girls, this is a great email to give you an idea of just how much things have changed since your mom and I were your age. I just can’t believe how different things are, but I’m so grateful for these fun things we enjoy so much! You girls are growing up in such an exciting time!
This list doesn’t include DVR, electric blankets, cable/satellite, GPS, automatic transmissions (when we were kids, most cars were stick shift!), and lots of other stuff, but it’s well done.
Subject: Growing up without a cell phone
When I was a kid, adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were. I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way in hell I was going to lay a bunch of crap like that on my kids about how hard I had it and how easy they’ve got it! But now that I’m over the ripe old age of forty, I can’t help but look around and notice the youth of today. You’ve got it so easy! I mean, compared to my childhood, you live in a damn Utopia! And I hate to say it, but you kids today, you don’t know how good you’ve got it!
I mean, when I was a kid we didn’t have the Internet. If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the damn library and look it up ourselves, in the card catalog!! (Dave’s note – that’s why we usually settled for not knowing things.)
There was no email!! We had to actually write somebody a letter – with a pen! Then you had to walk all the way across the street and put it in the mailbox, and it would take like a week to get there! Stamps were 10 cents! (Dave’s note – Therefore most people rarely communicated in writing.)
Child Protective Services didn’t care if our parents beat us. As a matter of fact, the parents of all my friends also had permission to kick our ass! Nowhere was safe! (Dave’s note – This included school teachers!)
There were no MP3’s or Napsters or iTunes! If you wanted to steal music, you had to hitchhike to the record store and shoplift it yourself! (Dave’s note – If someone would have told me in 1985 that by 2005 I’d have thousands of high quality songs on a little device the size of a deck of cards, I wouldn’t have slept a single night between between 1985 and 2005 — too excited.) Or you had to wait around all day to tape it off the radio, and the DJ would usually talk over the beginning and @#*% it all up! There were no CD players! We had tape decks in our car. We’d play our favorite tape and “eject” it when finished, and then the tape would come undone rendering it useless. Cause, hey, that’s how we rolled, Baby! Dig? (Dave’s note – and if you wanted to hear a particular song, you might have to rewind or fast forward for five or six minutes. And if you had 8-track and wanted to hear a particular song, you had to find the track it was on and just listen until it came up — it might be 10 or 15 minutes!)
We didn’t have fancy crap like Call Waiting! If you were on the phone and somebody else called, they got a busy signal, that’s it! (Dave’s note – When some of my friends first got call waiting and answering machines, I thought they were rich.)
There weren’t any freakin’ cell phones either. If you left the house, you just didn’t make a damn call or receive one. You actually had to be out of touch with your “friends”. OH MY GOSH!!! Think of the horror… not being in touch with someone 24/7!!! And then there’s TEXTING. Yeah, right. Please! You kids have no idea how annoying you are. (Dave’s note – If you haven’t lived in that time it’s hard to understand this. If you ran out of gas, you were on your own. If you had an emergency, you better hope you were close to a pay phone and had some change. Anytime you were not in a place that had land lines, you were potentially hosed if something happened to you.)
And we didn’t have fancy Caller ID either! When the phone rang, you had no idea who it was! It could be your school, your parents, your boss, your bookie, your drug dealer, the collection agent… you just didn’t know!!! You had to pick it up and take your chances, mister! (Dave’s note – And to answer the other call, you actually hung up the phone and then picked it back up again!)
We didn’t have any fancy PlayStation or Xbox video games with high-resolution 3-D graphics! We had the Atari 2600! With games like Space Invaders and Asteroids. Your screen guy was a little square! You actually had to use your imagination!!! And there were no multiple levels or screens, it was just one screen… Forever! And you could never win. The game just kept getting harder and harder and faster and faster until you died! Just like LIFE! (Dave’s note – I enjoyed those early games, but always hated the crappy graphics. I didn’t start getting impressed by video game graphics until the first Playstation came out.)
You had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on! You were screwed when it came to channel surfing! You had to get off your ass and walk over to the TV to change the channel!!! NO REMOTES!!! Oh, no, what’s the world coming to?!?! (Dave’s note – We never bought TV guide. We used a free paperback version that came every week in the newspaper. Our first remote control had a wire running from the remote to the TV set, and we thought it was amazing.)
There was no Cartoon Network either! You could only get cartoons on Saturday Morning. Do you hear what I’m saying? We had to wait ALL WEEK for cartoons, you spoiled little rat-bastards! (Dave’s note – On the upside, we had real cartoons: the Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show, the Flintstones, Scooby Doo, the Pink Panther — ones actually worth watching)
And we didn’t have microwaves. If we wanted to heat something up, we had to use the stove! Imagine that! (Dave’s note – When my dad brought home our first microwave, I was a little fearful about the radiation — lots of people were. I remember my brother and me and my parents standing around looking into the microwave while we boiled a glass of water.)
And our parents told us to stay outside and play… all day long. Oh, no, no electronics to soothe and comfort. And if you came back inside… you were doing chores!
And car seats – oh, please! Mom threw you in the back seat and you hung on. If you were lucky, you got the “safety arm” across the chest at the last moment if she had to stop suddenly, and if your head hit the dashboard, well that was your fault for calling “shot gun” in the first place! (Dave’s note – On long trips my little brother used to sleep in the car’s back window area. I was jealous that I was too big to fit in there.)
See! That’s exactly what I’m talking about! You kids today have got it too easy. You’re spoiled rotten! You guys wouldn’t have lasted five minutes back in 1970 or any time before!
The Over 40 Crowd
Addition from Dave — When VCR’s first came out, they were MASSIVE, and weighed 40 or 50 lbs. Very few people owned one, so when video stores began selling videos (on Betamax and VHS), they also rented out VCR’s. They came in like this plastic briefcase-type thing. It was new technology so they were very expensive, and in order to rent one you had to give them like a $100 deposit. Many people, including my parents, were not willing to lay down the deposit, so I’d go down to Ruth Smith’s house and she’d give me a deposit check so I could rent a movie and a player.
I’m glad you get to grow up with all these conveniences. They are so fun! As long as there have been people on this planet, there have been some willing to sell their souls over some stupid toy or invention, and others who kept it in perspective and enjoyed it but didn’t get carried away. Of course you don’t know what it was like growing up when we did, but you are good girls with good heads on your shoulders, and I have no worries either for you or for your generation. As long as there are people on this planet, there will be people who know that the most important things in life are never things. I’m glad you girls are among them.
Love you —