I spend a lot of time waxing nostalgic about the good old days, which — truth be told — might or might not have been quite as good as I recall. I do miss those days when we were a kinder and gentler society.
But my memories are not all filtered through the rose-colored lenses of my mind and there are some things that I most assuredly do not miss about those days — things I hope I never have to repeat. I am not totally opposed to the progress we have made in the 21st century. Allow me to give you an example or three.
I don’t know what those little plastic things are called on the ends of shoelaces, but I know that mine never seemed to stay intact and I hope I never have to lace up another pair of shoes without the little plastic thingamajig.
You remember. The ends of the shoelaces would be splayed and frayed and it was next to impossible to get the end of the lace through that tiny little eyelet. You’d have to put the shoelace in your mouth — and the lace was always dusty and dirty and tasted awful—and then you would twist it as tight as you possibly could — but it was never tight enough to get the entire lace through that tiny hole.
I would usually get one skinny little thread, and when I tried to pull that thread through the whole lace would just bunch up at the opening of the eyelet and it was back to the drawing board — or back to my mouth with the dirty, grimy shoelace.
Today the vast majority of my shoes are loafers and I keep extra laces on hand for each pair of shoes that requires them. At the first sign of a lace problem it is out with the old and in with the new. I never intend to twist another saliva-laden lace as long as I live.
And, yes — I am aware that I have a grandson on the way. It’s the 21st century. We have Velcro.
I never intend to touch another metal ice-cube tray either. Not if I live to be a hundred. It makes my skin crawl just to think about it. Every night at suppertime for my entire childhood I heard my mother call out those dreaded words, “Darrell, take up the ice.”
I would often pretend I hadn’t heard, hoping that she would just take up the ice herself. It never worked. She would just use my middle name, and we all know that God gave Southerners a middle name just for such occasions. When Tommie Huckaby called out “Darrell Lee, take up the ice!” you’d bet your bottom dollar that I would be curling my bottom lip under the top lip and running those hated metal trays under the running water in the sink.
Remember the movie “Christmas Story?” If the director had really wanted to make an impression on the audience he would have forgotten all about the pole and just had the kid touch his tongue to a metal ice-cube tray.
Once you got the frost washed off you would have to pull the stupid lever that never seemed to work and then maneuver the cubes out of the tray and into the jelly jars that served as fine glassware on our table. It’s a wonder I have fingerprints at all, I have left so much skin on those hated ice trays.
Now I simply touch my glass to a lever in the refrigerator door and ice magically pours out. Yes, it always overfills the glass and I have to pick several cubes up off the floor — but that is far and away preferable to dealing with a metal ice tray. Besides, I need the exercise.
There are a few other things I wouldn’t go back to. I haven’t seen a vertical hold knob on a television in a long, long time. I am thankful that the picture on my wide screen HDTV never rolls (knock on wood) and I don’t have to put aluminum foil on the rabbit ears to try and get “snow” out of the picture.
I can buy crushed ice cheap when it is time to make ice cream and no longer have to break up block ice with a hammer and ice pick to save 10 cents. And you can say what you will, but I don’t miss turning the crank on the churn, either. Electricity works just fine, thank you very much.
I also don’t miss picking sandspurs out of my feet, Christmas lights that all go out if one bulb goes bad, or having to paint my boo-boos with red medicine.
That’s about it, I suppose. When you get right down to it, the list isn’t very long. I’m glad my memory works that way, though. Most of mine are precious, and that is just the way I like them.
I hope you’ll join me for some more next time.