Monthly Archives: December 2010

Remember When Car Headlights Weren’t Blinding?

Remember when car headlights were not blinding?

I do.

I have never held myself out as the greatest driver in the world. But I believe I am a very safe driver.  At least that’s what I tell my insurance agent.  As such, I know that headlights are very important.  I try to keep my night driving to a minimum, typically only when I have to go to the supermarket or the convenience store for toothpaste or something.

Also, having taken physics in high school and gotten like an 85, I know that the more light that is projected, the better one is able to see.  And be seen.

But at some point the headlights of the other cars become so strong that it actually becomes harder to see at night.  Have you seen some of the headlight that have lately?  The other night I was driving to the store for some Cheerios and suddenly my rearview mirror filled with a bright white light.  I pulled over the side of the road and waited for the Terminator to come through from the future and demand my clothes and car.  But it was in fact just another sport utility vehicle with fancy headlights.

How did mounting lighthouses onto the front of cars past safety tests?  Probably because the tests were done from only the perspective of the driver.  The engineers in their white coats did not do the tests from the perspective of bespectacled drivers on their way to get Cheerios in the dark of night.  Maybe they did not have enough money.

And so I try to avoid driving at night, not because of the dark, but because of the light.

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Remember When Kids Drank Soda?

Remember when kids drank soda?

I do.

In my home when I was growing up, soda was a treat.  My parents did not carry soda in the house as part of the regular store of beverages.  Orange juice, lemonade…but no soda.  Or pop.  Or whatever you call it where you are from.

Soda was something we drank at pizzerias and McDonald’s and Chuck E. Cheese’s.  And friends’ houses.  I had a friend who had bottles of Coke in his fridge.  He brought me a bottle of Coke while we were playing video games.  My parents did not let me have video games, either.  But that is another story for another time.  Drinking soda and playing video games at the same time—I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

When I got to college I could drink soda whenever I wanted.  I could drink soda with breakfast if I wanted.  And I did.

But now…now kids don’t drink soda.  Their parents don’t let them.  Parents who neglect or beat their children are ignored by the authorities.  But parents who give their kid a Coke or Pepsi on Monday will be arraigned on Tuesday.

As for me, soda is still a treat.  I drink in the dark and I don’t care how many calories it has.  And it still tastes awesome.

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Remember When Snow Was Fun?

Remember when a big snowstorm was fun and exciting?

I do.

The snow was light and fluffy.  The lawn would look like an unblemished layer of pure white frosting.  The trees would have a calming stillness.  But mainly it was the possibility of school being cancelled that gave snow that magical quality.

It would begin the afternoon before.  A rumor would begin to spread about the school.  “Psst.  There’s going to be a big snowstorm, and Lisa smells.  Pass it on.”  It did not matter if it was 70 degrees and sunny; the moment someone said “snow” the air in the hallways and classrooms would get that pre-holiday feeling.  Before a single snowflake had fallen it felt like school had been canceled.

Not once did it occur to us that missing a day of school might cost us useful knowledge.  At that time, there was no useful knowledge.  And it did not even have to be a school day for the magic to work.  Even if it snowed on a Saturday, I would leap out of bed and look out the window and see the piles of pure white snow and say to myself, “How beautiful.  I wonder if school will be canceled on Monday.”

The best was watching the list of closed schools scrolls across the bottom of the television screen.  It was like waiting for the winning lottery numbers.  One of the first schools to be closed in my area was the Cleary School for the Deaf, and I would think about how lucky those kids were to have school canceled.

My school was stingy for some reason.  It always kept us waiting to the bitter end of the list.  With envy I would watch the other names reel by like other people’s luggage at the baggage claim, imagining the students that attended  those schools jumping for joy in their homes, a whole day off from school, a gift from heaven.  And then I think about how I too could be one of those happy students, doing cartwheels in his pajamas, were it not for the lousy administrators in my school, the heartless scoundrels who wanted to rob me of a snow day, the cruel, fun-hating, sadistic…

…And then it would happen.  The name of my school would scroll across the bottom of the screen, and I would know in my heart that my prayers had been answered.

Now, years later, that school long behind me, I perceive snow a little differently.  When I hear that there is going to be snow, I don’t watch the bottom of the television screen or do cartwheels or even bother praying.  Because all I think about is how miserable I’m going to be shoveling the driveway, and how I’m going to be risking my life on treacherous roads just to earn my daily bread.

But when I see the blanket of white pureness on the lawn, and the white mounds hanging off the trees, I still feel a little bit of the old magic, a little bit of wonder, a little bit of my childhood, and it gives me comfort.  That, and the fact that there will be no school buses or teachers on the road.

 

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