Sunday, January 4, 2009


When I was a kid, I loved video games. I used to steal quarters from my mother's purse and sneak off to the country store to play classic arcade games like "Defender", and "Donkey Kong", and "Missile Command." But when all of the quarters were gone, I had to go home and play with my friends. Usually outside. Hide and seek, endless variations of "Tag", and football were a few of our favorite games. Gather up all of the neighborhood kids, any age will do. We just needed bodies to form teams.

Nowadays, ask any kid if he wants to play football and he'll likely answer, "Sure. I have Madden '08 or I just got NCAA '09." These pre-teen couch jockeys have no idea what they're missing. They may never know the joy of executing the perfect Statue of Liberty play against those snot nosed kids from the other side of the block. Kids that age are supposed to be outside getting dirty, getting exercise, getting into trouble. The only thing they exercise now is their thumbs, which is why you should never thumb-wrestle a twelve year old.

And what's with the cell phones? Seems like every kid in double digits has a cell phone, so his or her parents can call them home for supper. My Dad could step out of the house and whistle, and I could hear it from as far away as three city blocks. And I knew if I didn't get home quick, I'd be forced to attend a meeting between his hand and my butt. And none of that cost $30 a month.

We were never allowed to watch TV at dinner, either. Parents today don't seem to leave home without their portable DVD players so that junior can watch his favorite cartoon characters while stuffing his face with chicken nuggets and french fries. I didn't know what McDonald's was until I was about eleven and my friend's family took me there. I didn't know what ethnic food was either. I can remember my first egg roll. I must have been fourteen. Mom did all of the cooking and you ate what was on your plate or went hungry.

Where did it all go so terribly wrong? When did technology take over our lives and leave us crippled, sedentary zombies? And, yes, I do realize the irony of typing these words into cyberspace for all of you to read at your leisure, but my Gutenberg movable type printing press is in the shop and my rotary phone dial won't turn past the three so I can't call the repairman and I'd send him a cable, but they don't do that anymore, either and I'm ashamed to say that I never learned how to whistle.


Sassy Molassy said...
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Sassy Molassy said...

I won't allow real video games in my house. My kids have a handful of ghetto little plug-in games, but their limited scope and finite possibilities give them a brief shelf life. We only have 14 channels, too. We regularly force our kids to go play outside whether they like it or not, and we eat dinner at the table at least 5 nights a week.
We did get the oldest a cell phone for Christmas at age 11, which I never thought I'd do. The problem is that we haven't had a home phone for four or five years, and now if his friends want to call to invite him over or ask about homework, they were calling my cell. Luckily we were able to just add him to our existing plan, so it was only another $9 a month, which is cheaper than putting a land line back in.