Saturday, November 28, 2009

Things you'll remember: Part One

I just read an amazing article about the Top 25 Things Vanishing From America.

Some of them are obvious: fax machines, homes without cable TV, drive-in theaters, etc. These are mostly gadgets and ways of doing things that technological advancements have improved into oblivion.

Pit toilets is on the list. I won't miss those, will you?

Other things on the list will be certainly missed by those of us over fifty who will soon be boring our grandkids with wistful reminiscences that begin, "When I was a boy..." These include newspapers, magazines, barbecue charcoal and the family farm.

Kiss 'em goodbye.

The decline of the worldwide honey bee population is the one that startles me the most. Imagine one-third of all humans disappearing from the face of the Earth in just the past sixteen months. It sounds like the plot of a science fiction horror flick but that's exactly what has happened to honey bees.

When I was a boy...

...we feared for our bare feet in suburban lawns, parks and playgrounds that were all infested by hundreds of the vicious, stinging insects toiling in the white clover.

They were everywhere, remember? Who didn't get stung at least once every summer? Who among us didn't capture them in jars we prepared with fresh grass and flower buds for their enjoyment?

Your grandkids will probably never do that. Very likely they'll never be stung by a bee. Their kids may never even see one.

I'm sure technology will find a way to compensate agricultural industries for the loss of the honey bee. But I think it's very sad, just the same.

When a bee stung us we cried because it hurt, but a large part of the pain was in knowing that while we would survive in discomfort to eventual full recovery the bee, itself, would die from its defensive attack.

That's a metaphor our grandkids really need.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Advanced parenting

My son Jeremy stopped by yesterday and today at our request for assistance.

He’s almost thirty-three years old. He’s a husband and dad, he’s got a degree in mechanical engineering from Cal Poly and years of experience as a professional theater technical director. He’s a former Disney Imagineer and is currently a lighting and special effects specialist for the Disneyland Hotel.

I, on the other hand, am the unanimously acknowledged mechanical idiot of the family. Give me a picture of a hammer and three to five minutes of non-pressured peace and quiet and I’ll give you a fifty-fifty chance of correctly selecting the business end of the hammer.

I’m a smart guy. When I was eighteen, forty years ago, I tested for entry into the Air Force and scored above 95% on all areas except mechanical. I got 65% on that one and believe me, it wasn’t much tougher than the hammer problem.

All we needed Jeremy to do was install a new garbage disposal and help Carolann with her Christmas decorations and tree lighting. (Yes, we start early. Don’t bug me about that. We like Christmas.)

And so, he did.

While Jeremy lay under our sink with a crescent wrench (I’m just making up these tool-thingy details, you know,) I sat on the floor and talked just to keep him company. When he put the lights on Carolann’s Christmas tree we listened to the Beatles’ Abbey Road album together and discussed the group’s history, strength and weaknesses.

During the Beatles Anthology early years recordings, I scrubbed the kitchen with bleach and ammonia.

When the work came to an end and he had to leave we hugged and smiled, having enjoyed a special father-son day of doing chores together. Except now, in some ways which don’t bother me in the least, my son is my dad and I am his son.

What goes around comes around and when you still enjoy each other’s company there’s no need for defining roles.

Dad; Son.

We know who we are.