Saturday, October 29, 2005

When I was a kid...

I'm still young enough at 51 to appreciate "old people" jokes. Ed, 8 years older than I am, says they are too true to be funny. For instance, a cursory search of the Internet brought up these gems:

You know you're old when...

  • Your friend compliments you on your new alligator shoes and you're barefoot.
  • You don't care where your spouse goes, just as long as you don't have to go along.
  • "Getting a little action" means, "I don't need to take any fiber today."
  • You are cautioned to slow down by the doctor instead of the police.
  • You realize that caution is the only thing you care to exercise.
  • Your sweetie says, "Let's go upstairs and make love," and you answer, "Honey, I can't do both!"
  • The gleam in your eye is the sun shining on your bifocals.
  • You look forward to a dull evening.
  • Your house is too big. Your medicine box not big enough.
  • When you say something to your kids that your mother used to say to you (and you always hated it).
  • When you step off a curb and look down one more time to make sure the street is still there.
  • It takes twice as long to look half as good.
Now for me, I know I'm old when I find myself saying,"When I was a kid...." I grew up in Memphis, so I can't say I had to walk home from school in waist-deep snow, but I can say that I walked home from school, and it wasn't a short walk, either! I can say I was allowed to chew gum rarely, and even that meant the stick of Juicy Fruit was torn in half to share with my sister. I only had Cokes (or sodas, or soft drinks, or whatever you call them in your region) on the weekend. And - I have to reminisce here as the Christmas buying season is approaching - I had very simple toys.

Back when I was young, Chatty Cathy was the most technologically advanced doll one could have. You pulled the string and - magic - she talked! And she didn't even require batteries! Except for Chatty Cathy and Chatty Baby (my sister's doll), our other dolls and toys were pretty quiet.

One of our favorite games was jacks with a red ball made of real rubber that could bounce to the ceiling. It was our mother's jacks ball when she was a girl, and she guarded it as the precious entity it was. It was a grand occasion indeed when she gave us permission to play with it.

We played board games like checkers and Monopoly and Clue. We played gin rummy and slap jack. We played Password.

When we tired of our games and toys, we formed a club - The Tiffin Spy Agency (TSA), whose members were just the two of us. We had meetings and dues and a theme song and everything. We made up our own play - I have to laugh now, because our characters were two old people! We also created our own family Thanksgiving service, complete with sermon, hymns, and handmade bulletins.

Now I'm getting the Christmas catalogs in the mail, I am perusing them for ideas for Caroline, and Rachel tells me, "I want to steer away from things that make noise." I thought, well, that shouldn't be too hard. So I went through the catalogs and store ads and nixed everything with the warning "Batteries required." The remaining list was quite short. My head is full of memories of toys I had growing up, then toys my children had growing up, and now it's a whole new world. I believe when Matt (born in 1983) was young, Teddy Ruxpin was just hitting the market - the bear that held a cassette tape who told stories and his lips moved. Now it's amazing the things toys can do. Even books have buttons to push where you don't even have to read them - they read aloud themselves - complete with sound effects!

I look at the changing world with awe. And as much as Rachel was determined to stay away from batteries, she finally had to give in, I think. She just bought Caroline a play kitchen that makes bacon sizzling noises and "speaks" words in English, French, and Spanish.

Ed was determined to find a "simple" toy for Caroline and had to look through the Amish catalog. He found a spinning top. I think he ought to get it. Caroline would be the envy of her toddler group with such a unique possession; I think it would fascinate her little friends. And then Caroline will be heroine of the hour when the neighborhood homes run out of batteries and Caroline has the only toy on the block that they could play with!

(This post has been edited because my detail-oriented sister sent me a Hedda doll picture and insisted I post it (see her comment below). I thought the jacks ball was red; it must be the fact everyone tells me that I look at my childhood with rose-colored glasses!)


Tif said...

Actually, Mother's jacks ball was brown. And you forgot to mention my technological wonder doll, Hedda Get Bedda! She was dressed in a hard plastic bonnet with a knob on top. When you turned the knob, you also turned her face to another side. She had a sleeping face, an awake and smiling face, and a face with chicken pox! She's actually quite a collector's item today.

And I thought the TSA was supposed to be a SECRET! Ouch! I've been outed by my own sister! Now I know how Valerie Plame feels.

Rachel said...

Yikes! I'd cry if I found that under the tree!