Things were slower, easier, and maybe even better

My kids wanted to hang out today and watch a movie. I’m all for it. I love being with my kids. They’re my best friends. Watching them scroll through Netflix movies for an hour is cringe worthy though. Then, after maybe thirty minutes of waiting for them to decide on something, one of my daughters needed to use the bathroom. As soon as she left the room, my other daughter immediately switched to YouTube and began watching music videos.

My sons quickly grew tired of waiting for them and picked up their Kindles where they proceeded to watch one of their favorite gamers battle dragons and quite realistic looking warriors in video games. Yes, they like to watch other people play video games! Things are so different from when I was a kid. That shit used to drive me crazy. My little brother’s dad would leave me sitting on the couch for hours wishing I had a turn at the original Nintendo system while he played R.C. Pro-Am over and over and over. I hated watching other people play video games.

I hated this damn game!

Ok, calm down, Chris. Calm down.

Anyway, watching them outpace boredom by switching from one entertainment medium to the next got me thinking.

I think I miss when things were slower. When things were so much simpler. My kids have no idea what it’s like to want for something.

Let’s take cereal for example. I used to flip out, like get crazy excited if my parents brought home Fruity Pebbles or Cinnamon Toast Crunch or Captain Crunch. My mom used to buy all the generic shit, the store versions, and back then that meant only the fake Cheerios, Fruit Loops, and Frosted Flakes. So we’re talking names like Stay Cheery O’s, Fruity Hulas, and Sugar Flakes…something like that. You get the idea.

My kids don’t have to wait for shit because I always want them to have the best of all worlds. Plus I fucking love cereal. On my shelf right now you’ll see Captain Crunch, Honeycombs, Fruity Pebbles, Cinnamon Life, Frosted Mini-Wheats, and I think Raisin Bran. If my kids ask me for a cereal, I’ll buy it the next time I’m in the store.

Does anyone remember how great it was when The Wizard of Oz came on like once a year? I remember getting so frickin’ excited when movies like The Shining would come on. I had no choice but to wait a full week to see the next episode of Beverly Hills 90210 or Are You Afraid of the Dark. My mom would make us watch all of The Wonderful World of Disney movies on Sunday nights. I couldn’t binge watch all the seasons of Sons of Anarchy and Prison Break. The only reality show back then was the News until The Real World came along.

Music videos? With MTV (back when it actually played music videos) you had to sit and wait for a video you liked to come on. You had absolutely no control. And God forbid Guns & Roses’ November Rain came on again. Great song, but you knew if that thing came on, you had like fifteen minutes to wait for the next video. That and Meatloaf’s I would do anything for love but I won’t do that.

Movie theaters served popcorn that came with butter. I don’t know about you guys, but where I live now, popcorn comes with salt on it and that’s all. If I want butter I have to pay like a dollar more. I didn’t get to pick my seats when buying tickets either. If you went to the movies with a group of people, you were just hoping like hell there’d be enough empty seats next to each other. If not, you’d be spreading out to see the film.

Renting movies was one of my favorite things to do. Sound Warehouse was one of the places we used to go to rent movies. I remember walking in with my mom and Kyle, my younger brother. Everyone got to pick one movie. Kyle always picked something with ninjas in it, I always chose something scary, and then my mom would find something we “just had to see.” That usually meant we’d have no fucking desire to see it. I miss walking down the aisles at Blockbuster or any of the small mom and pop style movie rental places, hoping something cool and new was on the shelf but knowing I’d probably never get my hands on the new Nightmare on Elm Street or whatever movie Jean-Claude Van Damme had out that week. They were just too damn popular! I remember skipping school one day just because I got my hands on Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3.

Goodbye Blockbuster

The ability to scroll through movies on online streaming sites is so less time consuming but also so less exciting. Half the time I sit and move past title after title until I’m too tired to actually watch anything. Back in the day, if I walked into a movie rental place, I wouldn’t leave until I had a stack of movies in my hand. Then I’d go home and watch them all. Plus, since I didn’t have the ability to look up trailers online, I had no fucking clue what I was renting half the time. I had only the blurb on the back of the case and a cool looking cover to convince me to rent a movie. And I found so many secret gems (and lots of duds too).

Other than movies, music was my true passion. I’d sit at my little boombox cassette player and wait all fucking night so I could hold down both the “play” and “record” buttons as soon as the DJ stopped talking so I could get that new song on tape. Then I’d make mixed tapes. I had tons of mixed tapes and if I really liked a girl, she’d get one if she was lucky. I used to DJ my friends’ parties with mixed tapes, all songs I’d recorded on the radio.

I’m spoiled with porn now. With the click of a mouse I can quickly switch between porn videos all while keeping my other hand free to do with free hands do during porn watching sessions. Hell, I don’t even need porn websites with Tumblr on my phone. I can skip all the bullshit and go right to a girl riding a cock. No need for all that dialogue of the old porn videos: “I’m here to drain your pool.” “Oh, but I don’t have a pool.” Bow chika bow wow.  

I remember when I was a kid and I used to sneak into my dad’s bedroom and get his one VHS tape with his porn compilation on it. I always fast forwarded past this one video that looked like it was from the 70s. The chick had a big ol’ bush and put one foot on a chair so her man could dive face first into it. Ok, so I didn’t always fast forward past that one. Before getting started on dad’s VHS tape, I always wrote down the exact time on the timer so I’d know the exact second I needed to rewind to just to make sure if he put that tape in it would be right where he left off watching it. Since he was drunk most of the time, he probably wouldn’t remember anyway, but you know, just in case.

Books! I used to spend so much time in the library. I was always a bookworm. Even when I lived in shitty neighborhoods and had to join a gang just to get by, I’d go to the library when nobody else was around. I’d use the cart catalogue system. I would walk up and down every single aisle just searching for a title that would catch my attention. I read books about Ed and Lorraine Warren (the famous demonologists) long before The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2 movies came out. I read a book about a mafia hitman and a guy trying to survive the prison system. I read books I would never read now only because they were there in front of me and once I rented them and took them home, they would sit on my dresser and taunt me until I read them. I couldn’t just open a Kindle and read the first 1% of a book before giving up and switching to one of the other hundred books I have on that thing. I had to be a little more loyal and a lot more patient.

And lastly, as I didn’t mean for this thought to go on as long as it has, I liked being unreachable. Once I walked out of my house, nobody would hear from me until I came home. Then came fucking beepers. My high school girlfriend used to beep me constantly on my green Mountain Dew beeper that I got free with dad’s saved up proofs of purchase. I think it was a birthday present. That and the big red Marlboro hoodie he gave me (even though I’ve never smoked a cigarette in my life). My girlfriend would beep me and expect an immediate answer. And there all those fucking codes to remember. You guys have to remember those.

143? I love you.

123? I miss you

153? I hate you

423? Call me now

Something was “I wanna fuck you.” I think it was 555.

As a writer, I guess I can’t think to fondly on the past, especially since back in the day I would have never had the chance to publish my own book. I didn’t have the opportunity to get to know so many people from all over the world. I would have never been able to grow my fan base. I guess if you all had beepers I could page you all with “143.” 

What do you guys think? 

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