June 06, 2012 - When I hear a sentence starting or ending with, "back in the good ol' days," I automatically roll my eyes. I can't help it, it's instinctive. And I can honestly say the muscles that control my rolling eyes are ripped. They're taunt and buff. They get exercised like no other muscle in my body.
Longing for the good ol' days, besides being an act of folly, is a waste of energy, too. The good ol' days weren't always good, just like our today's aren't always bad.
Life was "simpler" back then only because we survived -- we know how things turn out. We know the end of those past chapters. That part of life is simple. Stuff gets more complicated or hard when you contemplate the now as it relates to the future -- that which you don't know.
I state that to lead into this contradiction: Things sure are harder now than when I was a kid.
I came to that startling revelation a few years ago while experiencing a deja vu moment watching the Detroit Pistons professional basketball team. Watching Cleveland Cavalier LeBron James cut his teeth on the Pistons, reminded me of Chicago Bull Michael Jordan who cut his teeth on the Pistons in the early 1990s. Overtop of the Pistons, Jordan ruled the NBA for a decade. Similarly, LeBron has now been anointed king. But, I digress...
It was shortly after 9 p.m., the lads (Shamus and Sean) were safely ensconced under their respective blankets having gone to bed an hour earlier. It was then Mr. Sean stumbled into the living room, eyes squinting as he came from the dark into the light. He was sniffling as he came up to me and sat on my lap.
"Dad," he managed between sobs, "if a car is going to hit me, don't try to push me out of the way."
Between his sobbing and NBA sportscaster Marv Albert's gushing over LeBron's game I couldn't quite understand what my son was saying. "What, Sean?" I asked, turning the TV's volume down.
"Don't try to push me out of the way. Give me a signal, but don't try to save me," he said, sniffling all the way. His little blond head was resting on my left shoulder, his body was shaking. I then understood what had so profoundly upset my son. Sean had had a nightmare and in it I got smashed to smitheriens trying to push him out of the path of a moving vehicle.
He was heartbroken. I smiled to myself, but at the same time wished he wasn't so upset. You -- or at least I -- hate to see children worry.
Childhood anxiety is something I understand. I know I had angst as a kid. And much to my chagrin, I'm sure all kids fear their parents leaving or being taken away, too. My insecurity manifested itself much the same way as did Sean's. The difference, my dream was cartoonish, Sean's was disturbingly real. I can only attribute this to the fact things are much more (too) real these days than in the 1960s.
I still remember my anxiety-ridden dream. It took place in Mom and Dad's bedroom at 9902 Berwyn Street, in Redford Township. The terror for me began when the grotesquely blue-faced winged monkeys from "The Wizard of Oz" popped up out of the cream-colored, 12-inch linoleum tiles laid out on the floor. These vile creatures were in my home for one reason and one reason only -- to steal Mom and Dad. The scoundrels scooped up my parents and flew around the room as if they were attached to wires.
I had to save my parents!
My dreamworld mind had the answer: I, little mild-mannered Donald P. Rush, was Mighty Mouse. While Mom, Dad, the monkeys and the room were lifelike, I was a cartoon character. Yep, complete with drawn in mouse ears, nose, yellow leotards and red superhero cape, I could fly. While it was a vivid dream, when I awoke, I knew it was a dream nonetheless. Harmless. How or why I dreamt of a cream-colored floor I'll never know -- my parent's bedroom floor was hardwood.
Little Sean's dream was disturbingly real (at least to him) and I blame it on technology. Back in the good ol' days monsters and villains of any sort were not too realistic (unless you say gluing on cardboard horns onto monitor lizards so you can film a dinosaur movie is realistic). These days, with great and ever improving technology, nothing looks fake or cartoonish. Which means even in a kid's dreamworld, everything looks real. The line between reality and dreamaility is now very thin.
It melts the frozen cockles of my stone-cold heart he loves me such that he would be sad should I perish -- I just wish he wouldn't think of those things.
Ah, I pine for those good ol' days of yesteryear -- ouch! Damn, for some reason my eyes just rolled back into my head?
This 'Best of' ran June 6, 2007.
Don is Assistant Publisher for Sherman Publications, Inc. He has worked for the company since 1985. He has won numerous awards for column, editorial and feature writing as well as for photography. He has two, sons Shamus and Sean and resides in the area. To read archived copies of his columns, click on his name, just under his picture up top . . . He can be e-mailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org