Tuesday, February 17, 2009

When I was a kid

The other day, my son & I were in our backhouse, climbing mountains of useless trinkets, forgotten doo-dads, & all the stuff worth keeping but not important enough to look at (i.e. every piece of junk I've accumulated during my 6 1/2 year marriage). I thought I saw my balls back there, but quickly remembered my wife keeps them next to her keys & wallet in her purse.

I happened upon a few items that peeked my boy's curiosity. Being the observant conveyer of information that I am, my keen sense of "Oh tihs, this is going to be funny" kicked in.

Him: Daaaddyyyy, what's THAT?

Me: That, my boy, is a Video Cassette Recorder. VCR for short. When I was a kid we watched movies on them. We stuck the movies in this slot right here.

Him: DVD's were fat a long time ago, huh Daddy? Like hamburgers.

Me: No, we had videotapes. Big rectangular cassettes with film inside. When we finished, we had to rewind them.

Him: You had to rewind them?

Me: Yep.

Him: What's rewind mean?

Me: Umm, it's what the 'previous' button does, accept a lot noisier & much longer.

Him: What about THAT?

Me: This is called a telephone cord.

Him: A charger? You & Mommy already have lots of those, Daddy.

Me: Well, at one point people's phones were actually connected in their houses. This cord connected the phone to a plug in the wall.

Him: It musta been hard to walk around with these cords all over the sidewalks, huh Daddy?

Me: No, no, it wasn't like-

Him: Is that why you're so good at jump rope, Daddy?

Me: The phone's stayed in the houses, & if you needed to talk outside, we had pay phones. A person would drop coins into a slot & then make their call.

Him: Whoa. I saw those one time on a cartoon, with cans & strings, huh Daddy?

Me: Yeah, something like that. But now, we all have cell phones, so most people don't have home phones anymore.

Him: I know what this thing is Daddy!

Me: What is it?

Him: It's a tool box!

Me: No, that's called a Walkman. When I was a kid, that's the way we listened to music. You can stick a tape in here, or you can tune into radio stations. Why are you looking at it like that?

Him: I want to see how you download the songs.

Me: This was long before MP3 players. Back then, there wasn't even the Internet. We bought tapes at stores called "The Wherehouse" & "Music+".

Him: There's music on tape? I never heard it when we wrap presents.

Me: It's a different kind of tape. Nevermind.

Him: No Internet? That's sad Daddy. You guys had a hard time, huh Daddy?

Me: I wouldn't say hard for us, just easier for your generation. Oh look, a box of my old comic books.

Him: What's a comic book, Daddy?

Needless to say, my son now perceives me as some sort of relic, as opposed to being young, hip & relevant. By the end of our adventure, I had explained to him that I didn't go to school with any cavemen, that the first airplane flew long before my time & that record players were not cd players for rich people.

Here I am thinking I'm still cool & with it, but with the help of a curious 6 year old, I now know otherwise. It was the equivalent of my father grooving to the latest 8 track of The Commodores, then me ridiculing it in comparison to a record player.

It also put my own identity crisis in proper perspective. I'm not some snazzy 21 year old hipster. I'm no hip hop aficionado. I'm an adult, with responsibilities & commitments. Granted, I'm no one's grandpapa yet, but those day's will arrive in a clock's tick & a sun's set. I've earned my right to spew such irritating phrases as "You'll understand when you get older", "It's grown folk's business" & the ever popular "I'll tell you one day".

Police don't harass me anymore, gang bangers don't throw up their hoods at me, & I'm often referred to as "sir" or "mister".

When I was a kid, I dreaded these days. Now, it's actually pretty cool.