Six Observations from an Almost-40-Year-Old

Six Observations from an Almost-40-Year-Old

This week’s Great Idea is to laugh a little. With the ripe old age of 40 lurking just around the corner from me, I find myself confronted daily by things–big and small, trivial and not so trivial–that just don’t seem to make any sense. So read on and just maybe you’ll enjoy a good laugh at my expense.

1. First of all, there are the low-fat blueberry muffins at Starbucks, which the diet-obsessed among us are evidently supposed to wash down with an enormous Frappuccino for breakfast and thereby consume more than half the daily calorie allowance by ten in the morning. But, hey, the muffin’s “low fat,” and it’s even got fruit!

2. And how about Abercrombie & Fitch, my daughters’ favorite clothing store? I cannot stand to set foot in the place–they blast horrible music at deafening levels, spray their cologne all over the store and even on the clothes themselves, and there’s not an employee in the place who’s old enough to vote and has an unpierced navel. I love taking my girls shopping, but I find myself groaning any time I’m in a mall in the same way my parents did when I was a teen and listened to Rush, doused myself in Ralph Lauren Polo cologne, and boldly strode out the door in my parachute pants. No wonder Mom and Dad were horrified!

3. Speaking of daughters, am I the only dad in America who thinks his kids can get by just fine without cell phones? My 11-year-old, Katie, has informed me that all her friends have cell phones and wants to know why she can’t too. I told her I managed to survive with a walkie-talkie when I was her age and I’d be happy to get her one too. “But Dad!” she wailed. “Walkie-talkies only work when you’re close to home!” To which I responded, “Great! Then you’ll never be far away!”

4. And then there’s my credit card, which grants me “free” airline miles every time I use it. The only problem is the “free” miles seem to apply only to 3 a.m. flights that depart and return on days that don’t end in “y,” and if I want to travel from, say, Dayton, Ohio, to Orlando, Florida, I’ll have to get there by way of a connecting flight out of LA, which will invariably be delayed. I admit I’m exaggerating, but I’m afraid not by much.

5. And now let me turn to politics. Do you think there will ever be a day when a viable candidate in any race will turn to the voting public and say, simply, “I’m not going to speak negatively about my opponent; in fact, I’m not going to speak about him at all. But I am going to tell you about the positive change I can make in this world.” Instead, we get smear attacks and people who aspire to lead our nation making jokes on Letterman.

6. Finally, I must ask what happened to the days of Orange Crush, the game of “kick the can,” toasted cheese sandwiches, The Bob Newhart Show, trapping fireflies and keeping them in a Mason jar with holes punched in the top, ColecoVision, striped tube socks, plain old Cheerios, little red wagons, not talking in church, writing thank-you notes, and reading? I’m not a particularly nostalgic kind of guy, but I find myself missing these simple pleasures and manners and wondering if we haven’t lost something important in the name of progress.

So take a moment to sit back and think about how our world has changed in the last 20 years. And after you’re done, come join me on the sofa to watch old Newhart reruns and sip from glass(!) bottles of Orange Crush while my kids duke it out over who gets to play the Wii next. Just ring me up on my on my walkie-talkie first to let me know you’re coming.

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