Thursday, September 25, 2008

Spamalot



I Don't Do Warm & Fuzzy Very Well Anymore


We all have friends that instead of writing deep, satirical or witty thoughts on blogs simply forward on 'cute' things that they get via e-mail. I suspect that these folks have a lot of insecurities. Getting and receiving these little trinkets of cute animals and animated gifs makes them feel better. Sort of like electronic valium.

Since I like to consider myself more of a creator and interpreter of things instead of someone that just references someone else ideas, these types of spam e-mail don't go over very well with me. Especially the farfetched stories of hope, redemption or political backstabbing that can easily be debunked on Snopes.com.

So when a good friend of mine sent me the following reminiscing narrative about the 1950s (complete with cute pictures of 57 Chevy's and Howdy Doodie) I had had enough. Attached is a truncated version of the 'spam' and my response.

I guess I am just not Mr. Warm and Fuzzy anymore.
______________________________________

DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN...?

It took five minutes for the TV warm up?

Nearly everyone's Mom was at home when the kids got home from school?

When a quarter was a decent allowance?

You got your windshield cleaned, oil checked, and gas pumped, without asking, all for free, every time? And you didn't pay for air? And, you got trading stamps to boot?

Laundry detergent had free glasses, dishes or towels hidden inside the box?

They threatened to keep kids back a grade if they failed. . . and they did?

When a '57 Chevy was everyone's dream car... to cruise, peel out, lay rubber, or watch submarine races - - and teens went steady?

No one ever asked where the car keys were because they were always in the car, in the ignition, and the doors were never locked?

Stuff from the store came without safety caps and hermetic seals because no one had yet tried to poison a perfect stranger?

Sharing this today because it ended with a double dog dare to pass it on. To remember what a double dog dare is, read on. And remember that the perfect age is somewhere between old enough to know better and too young to care.

______________________________________


(My Response)

I think I must see this or similar chain e-mail about 4 or 5 times a year, dreaming of the good-ole days and memories of youth and simplicity. It appears that this is a reaction to our general notion of how much things 'suck' these days and how our lives really aren't any better, and in fact have gotten progressively worse. So I want to give a bit of a counterpoint here.

While I have fond memories of my youth, the reality is that we are all lucky to have survived it. Lest we forget, these were some of the realities of life back in the 1950s and 1960s:

-----------------

Cancer was a death sentence. If you got the big "C", you were pretty much written off. There were no radical mastectomies or radiation treatments. Once you got it, you went home, closed the shutters and waited to die.

An abortion marked you for life or was done with a coat hanger. There was no second chance or societal acceptance. You were usually sent away for 9 months, so that nature could take its course, and when you returned the next school year, everyone whispered behind your back. Gotta love that peer pressure.

One word: DDT - there was little to no government over site regarding chemicals or their manufacture and use.

Segregation - the 50s where great, as long as you were Caucasian and reasonably well off. If you were black, Hispanic or Asian, all you could aspire to was landscaper or man servant and when you got old you lived off your children.

No Air Conditioning / especially in your cars - you froze in the winter and sweat buckets in the summer. There was no climate control, even in your 57 Chevy. Ever try and sleep in a bed with the temperature at 90 degrees with 60% humidity. Owww, yeah, I want to do that again!

It took 2 weeks to communicate with someone on the other side of the world and traveling took weeks to prepare and execute. Now you have a cell phone, global transport and e-mail. Think about doing without them for a week and see how much you like it.

The threat of MAD. For those that don't remember this, MAD = Mutually Assured Destruction. The concept that every man woman and child in the US had over 5,000 TONS! of TNT aimed at us every day and night for almost 20 years. Yeah, that felt good.

The McCarthy Hearings - Absolute power corrupts without over-site. Back then you could be blacklisted and expelled or even put to death for your political beliefs. Those gay protesters in New York today would have been rounded up, put on a boat and sunk in the middle of New York Harbor back in 1950s.

Atmospheric Nuclear Testing - Nothing like the orange glow of nuclear tainted dust in the sunset just north of Las Vegas to give you that deep down warm feeling.....from radioactive fallout hitting your skin as it drifted toward Kansas.

Thalidomide - Side effects, what side effects? This drug (given to calm expectant mothers) caused more birth defects than any known medication in history. They hadn't quite perfected that Hippocratic Oath thing about 'Doing No Harm'.

Let’s not forget everyone's favorite contagious disease: Polio.....before Salk and Sabin put their heads together, every child rolled the dice when they went to school....and possibly came home crippled.

No Air Bags or Seat belts - if you got into an accident going over 40, you died. Pretty simple. The insides of cars had no padding, lots of glass and metal and no seat belts or airbags. Knock your head into a glass plate at 40 mph and see how it feels. There wasn't any OnStar to call for help when you rolled your Hudson either.

The Draft - Didn't matter if you were a straight A student or not. If Uncle Sam needed you, you went, and got killed if necessary.

If you were handicapped or in a wheelchair you were considered 'different' and usually shuffled off to an 'institution' where folks like you were out of sight from us 'normal' folks.

No Miranda Rights / Fleeing Felon Rule - If you got arrested for anything....you had no rights between the time the police put the cuffs on you and your arraignment before the judge. If you got out of line, a black eye was the least of your worries. If you ran from the police after 'allegedly committing a felony' the police had the right to shoot you, no questions asked.

These are the obvious things that spring to mind but I am sure I can think of others. It isn't so much that the world was such a better place back then, it is that we have 'chosen' to live a life that we are not happy with today. We can choose differently, but peer / media pressure sort of persuade us not to.