Nobody Here But Us Chickens

Boyleing Points

In the old days, you had to be brave. Things were dangerous. I mean, jeez, even shampoo bottles were made of glass.

There was a smoking section on airplanes because you know – the smoke would stay in that section only. Not that any of us ever flew on a plane back then. The usual mode of transportation was the station wagon without seatbelts and a back section where four or five kids could fit just to be bounced off each other. Of course, that wasn’t quite as dangerous as the trunk – which was sometimes used to store kids to sneak into various venues, like the Surf Club.

Those days it seemed like the only parental rule was: be home for dinner. Some parents would add, “bring me home a pack of cigarettes.” 

You’d be out all day climbing over fences in other peoples’ backyards. You’d be making slingshots and other weapons to use against your friends for fun. You’d have unsupervised boxing matches, rock fights, and sometimes some kid would have a pocket knife and might show off some whittling skills.

And yeah, we’d be home for dinner – where the danger continued. Most of us would be going home to the house filled with cigarette smoke to have dinner that was prepared with tubs of butter and salt. Shit was dangerous.

And this was life before high school.

Come to think of it, my parents sent my brother to an orthodontist in the city – Manhattan. They sent him by subway, by himself. Sixth grade.

You weren’t much safer at school if you had one of those psycho teachers. Plenty of nuns and religious brothers get their deserved reputations for being sadistic but some lay teachers – as they used to be called – got in on the cruel and unusual, too. One teacher had a paddle, which he named “George.” If kids got in trouble, they had to bend over for whacks.

The conventional wisdom was you couldn’t tell your parents because you might get whacked again.

You probably should’ve worn a helmet to school but you wore helmets for two things only, little league baseball and peewee football. Those were the days when dentists used novocaine if they felt like it. Parents would open the car window a smidge, lock you inside and go into a store. Stray dogs were common and one or two would take turns terrorizing the neighborhood. 

It’s funny how kids don’t answer their phones these days. Well, in the dangerous days, actual fights would break out as kids lunged for the ringing phone. Everything was a battle.

You’d think such an upbringing would be good training as we age. You’d think we’d have some spine.

Last week I lamented how little common sense there is. Well, this week, I go straight to contradicting myself. Most of us have too much common sense. And it’s paralyzing. Too much common sense makes you a big scaredy cat. 

We live our lives looking at our past, like whew, better not try that again. And it gets worse. All my elders? They only cross the street at the corner.

I mean, we can’t enjoy ourselves because we have to save for retirement. You know, retirement. That period of life where you can do as many boring and safe things as possible. 

Now, that’s scary.

Screw it, I vow to get crazy again. I’m jay walking. Next month, for real.

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