COLLATERAL DAMAGE

I didn’t grow up poor, but when I was young, my father’s business was new. Money was tight. It got looser with the years, but by the time he started making serious money, I was gone from the family nest.

stick and ball

As a child, toys were few and far between. I always got one really nice doll every year. Usually for my birthday in March. My mother had exceptional taste in dolls and I have carried on the tradition and passed the taste for (now) antique dolls to my granddaughter.

Other toys, though … we didn’t have much. No one did. Everyone had a bicycle, even the poorest kids. Whether we got them brand new or third-hand, all of them were equally beat up. A shiny bike was a bike nobody rode.

Someone had a badminton set. Someone else had an old swing set. One of the girls had an inflatable pool. Monopoly was ubiquitous. We all had a set and we played it relentlessly for hours on Mary’s front porch on hot summer days.

We had decks of cards and learned to play bridge and poker. Someone could usually scrounge a length of rope for jumping. We built “forts” out of old crates. Otherwise, it was tag, stoop ball, stickball, hide n’ seek. Anything you could do without mom and dad supplying the tools. Because they didn’t. Wouldn’t. We were expected to make our own entertainment.

Creativity was our main weapon against boredom. We weren’t allowed to sit inside when the sun was shining. I wasn’t allowed to watch television at all. Sometimes I got a temporary pass to stay in if I was immersed in a book, but eventually, mom took the book away and told me to go out and get some exercise.

monopoly

Fresh air and exercise were deemed more important than another book. If given my druthers, I would have spent all my time reading — which was considered unhealthy, so out I went.

The other day in Walmart I saw a boxed “stickball” set. It included a special stick, and a couple of hard rubber balls. And of course, logos. You gotta have the logos, right?

A stickball set? I don’t know why I was shocked, but I was. To me, it signaled the death of youthful invention and imagination. No one would again sneak into the kitchen to try to steal mom’s broomstick. Or resurrect a nearly dead rubber ball for “just one more game.”

Why bother when you can ask your folks to buy a set at Walmart or order it from Amazon? Which doesn’t seem (to me, anyhow) to leave a lot of room for fond childhood memories. I’m glad I’m not growing up now.

The freedom of childhood has been collateral damage in the advance of technology. I don’t think I’d like being a kid now.

A PHOTO A WEEK CHALLENGE: SUMMER MEMORIES, OR WHY IT’S GREAT BEING A KID

A Photo a Week Challenge: Summer Memories

I thought these might be a perfect entry for this challenge. Not me, but my granddaughter and friends when they were children. Before makeup and boys and drama.

Almost the definition of why it’s great to be a kid.

Summertime Ready

Summertime SET

Summertime - GO

Anyone want to do it again?

Anyone want to do it again?

VALOR AND SURVIVAL

It was a rerun of an NCIS episode from a few years ago. The victim had given her life to protect others and her country’s secrets.

“She didn’t have to do it,” McGee pointed out.

“No,” said Gibbs. “She had a choice. That’s what makes her a hero.”


My cousin is my oldest friend, though we don’t see each other much. We communicate a fair bit on the Internet but hardly ever in person.

“You’ve always been braver than me,” she said.

The context was a picture of me and Garry riding the Cyclone at Coney Island. There’s a camera at the first drop. Hard to resist buying a picture of oneself and others screaming as you go down the nearly vertical first drop on an 84-year old wooden coaster.

But brave? It wasn’t as if I’d volunteered to rescue someone from danger. I paid my money and got the best adrenaline rush money can buy. Not brave. Not heroic.

Some people have called me brave because I’ve survived. As it happens, I would have been just as happy to skip all that and lead a pleasantly uneventful life. For excitement, there’s the Cyclone. I could have lived with that.

I’ve managed to slouch into senior citizenship alive but I hardly deserve a medal. You don’t get medals for surviving or you shouldn’t. Saving ones own life (and occasionally as collateral anti-damage, other people too) is instinct, not valor.

Staying alive is hard-wired into our DNA. Birds do it. Bees do it. Even educated fleas do it.

My definition of bravery or valor is the same as Gibbs’. You have to make a willing choice. There has to be a choice! Taking risks for the fun of it, to make a killing in the stock market, or because your only other option is death isn’t courage.

If it’s fun, it’s entertainment. I love roller coasters. I probably would have liked sky diving had my back not been so bad. A personal passion or hobby involving doing dangerous stuff is not brave. Maybe it’s not even intelligent.

Taking a risk for profit? Shrewd, not brave.

Saving your own life? Finding a way by hook or crook to keep a roof over your head and food on your table? That’s instinct.

I’ve never done anything I define as courageous. I’ve done exciting stuff, entertaining and fascinating stuff. Some of these adventures proved disastrous. Others worked out okay. I’ve occasionally been selfless in helping others when I could. But I never voluntarily put myself in harm’s way to save someone else.

The most I could be accused of is doing the right thing when it wasn’t easy. I don’t think you get medals for that, either.

Anyway, that’s what I think.

PAH-TEE!

Saturday Night!

That’s the way I always thought Saturday Night was supposed to be. It never has been for me. I was an intellectually wild child, but other more popular kinds of wildness — dancing, drinking, drugging and clubbing — never were my scene. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t much of a dancer … or because too-loud music makes my head ache.

I don’t like booze and the kind of drugs I liked were more likely to incline one to listening to music in front of a crackling fire than getting dressed and heading for a club scene.

These days, of course, I know it’s Saturday night only because there’s nothing on TV worth watching except (if we are lucky) old movies or reruns of JAG. I miss quiet evenings with old friends by a fire, but I don’t miss parties. I made good parties, but they weren’t central to my life or a major part of my fun.

Any day of the week, give me a good friend, maybe a nice meal and a long conversation with a lot of laughter. Saturday night or any night of the week, that’ll do it for me.

SHARING MY WORLD, 2014 WEEK 15

Cee’s Photography – Share Your World – 2014 Week 15

For your blog do you basically use Windows or Mac, laptop, desktop, pad, or phone?

Garry in his office

Windows — 2 Win 7 laptops and a desktop plus a Win 8 tablet — but I really hate Windows 8. Unless Microsoft makes some significant changes, when it comes time for the next-gen of computers, I will have to go in another direction. Given my huge investment in Windows-based software, the idea makes me a little queasy.

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Pretty much exactly where I am. In a house in the country with dogs. Writing and taking pictures. The only other thing I wanted to be was The Lone Ranger and that didn’t work out.

Did you grow up in a small or big town? Did you like it?

96-Holliswood1954

I grew up in New York, which is a huge city, but my neighborhood was more like a semi-rural village. I think most cities are like that. You don’t live in The City, you live in your neighborhood. We had woods and trees, donkeys and chickens and geese roaming about. Even a riding stable around the corner. It wasn’t very NY city-ish, but it was walking distance to the subway, the magical tube to the wonders of the big city. For a kid, especially a teenage, it was as close to a perfect location as you might hope for. Country living in the greatest of all cities? Not much to complain about there.

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

100? 110? Older than dirt.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

NestInTreeHollow-300-72Surviving each week is a triumph.

This morning, there was a warbler singing so loudly on our deck I thought it was someone’s cell phone (how ironic!) and that too was something for which to be grateful.

Birds like nesting on our porch. Nice, but then they get all antsy about us going out there and we can’t use the deck until all the baby birds have grown up and flown away.

I’M SHARING MY WORLD – BUT ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO COME?

CEE’S Share Your World – 2014 Week 14

If you had to describe your day as a traffic sign, what would it be?

Expect-Delays-sign

Is your hair short (total neck and ear showing), medium (covering ears and neck), long (below shoulders), extra long (at least halfway down your back) or bald?

Long, but falling out. Not far to go to achieve balding. It has something to do with anesthesia, surgery and stuff. It’s happened before. Maybe it’ll grow back. Meanwhile, I need a cute cap. I look good in caps.

When you are with your friends, do your interactions include much touching—for example, hugging, kissing, rough housing, rubbing backs? Would you like to have more of this? (Note: the answers may vary depending on where you live on this wonderful planet.)

Everyone is afraid to touch me right now. I’m afraid to touch myself. I think I’ll get over this eventually.

What do you feel is the most enjoyable way to spend $100?

Books (audio or Kindle) or something cool for the camera.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I made it through another one! It’s 2 weeks out of surgery and I’m almost human. Almost. Getting closer! I hope by the end of next week, I will be able to laugh without pain and sneeze without fear!