Kay Frances: Back in the day

There are many ways to know for sure that you are getting older:

1. The phone rings and you hear yourself saying, “It’s 8 p.m.! Who could be calling at this hour?”

2. When a website asks for your year of birth, your finger cramps from scrolling down to find it.

3. But the most telltale sign of all is when you hear yourself saying, “Back in the day…”

It’s hard not to compare how things are today with how they used to be, well, back in the day. The most glaring change is parenting styles. For example, when my parents told me to do something, they meant right now. Young parents today give their kids three counts to stop their offending behavior.

“Now, Jason, I told you to get out of that tiger’s cage. I’m going to give you THREE COUNTS to do it.”

“One.”

“Two.”

“Jason, that tiger is chewing on your face. Get out of the cage!”

“Two-and-a-half.”

I do think it’s nice how they celebrate graduation these days. Graduation from pre-school. And kindergarten. And fifth grade. And middle school. And on and on.

Back in the day, we only had one graduation and it was from high school. And I didn’t even get a party. What I got was a set of luggage. The implied meaning was, “Your job here is done. Get out!”

Don’t get me wrong. I love modern society and all of its trappings. There is no way I’d want to go back to hanging laundry on the line, although I have to admit that nothing quite beats the smell of fresh air and bird poop on your pillow case.

And, I love many of the technological advances. Things that we could only dream of in days of yore. Look at phones. We all walk around with our own personal phone, even if you never actually use it to call anyone. It’s amazing!

Back in the day, we had one phone that we had to share with the entire family, and one phone line that we shared with the entire neighborhood. It was called a “party line,” but it was anything but a party. You always had that one nosy neighbor. You could hear her click on.

“Edna, I can hear you breathing.”

“No, I’m not…”

Cars were completely different back in the day. No seatbelts or car seats. The baby rode in Mom’s lap in the front seat like a human projectile. I’m surprised a strong gust of wind didn’t come up and blow the baby out of the window. Yes, the windows were “rolled down” because there was no air conditioning. Young people don’t even know what “rolling down the window” means since all they do is push a button.

Cars didn’t even have air bags. The only thing that happened upon collision is that the glove box would fly open and a bunch of S & H Green Stamps would come flying out. (If you understand that reference, you are officially Older Than Dirt.)

Reflecting on how things were back in the day is a good thing as long as we only occasionally visit there, but mostly live in the present. Progress is inevitable and we never really get old unless we stop learning and embracing change.

So, if you are spending too much time thinking about how things were “back in the day,” I will give you three counts to stop it!

Salt Magazine