Column by Pete Viola

Pete Viola
Pete Viola

Whatever happened to the good old days? Remember that mythical, Elysian era when things may not have been perfect, but they sure as hell were better than today?

Sure you do.  Here’s mine:

In my day kids played outside all day, running around, inventing games and bickering about the rules until dinner called us home. We were given chores instead of pills. The school system worked and snow days came just often enough. Parents were stern but fair, setting clear limits and guiding their kids toward the straight and narrow path to success. We (at every level from the individual up to the nation) got more done with less stuff. The government worked rather than simply campaigned. The very air was fresher, the sun warmer (but not too warm, naturally), the water cleaner and the regulated free market cured all ills.

It was also a lot tougher to do anything. See, we weren’t fortunate enough to have all these modern conveniences, these newfangled luxuries: the Internet, iPods, cell phones, segues, ASIMO, hybrid cars, chicken pox vaccines, polio vaccines, potable water, movable printed type (see how neatly and effectively my words can be transmitted to a massive audience?), LOLCats, large hadron colliders and the like. Science, technology and bad parenting have spoiled my younger siblings, these upstart millennials. In my day, we earned our keep.

Those days are gone. But then, are the good old days anything more than an abstraction? And is it cliche to point this out?

We’ve all had to put up with the rantings of long-winded greybeards [sic] and the “You’ve-got-it-easy” bellyachers. I’d also bet we’ve all given those same speeches to someone(s) younger than us. I certainly have. I’ve ranted and griped to perhaps more than my fair share of younglings. Those affected, you know who you are. Consider this my apology.

This goes out to my grandparents, parents and peers alike: Fine, today is far from perfect. Fine, yesterday was rough –– far be it from me to deny a generation its right to nostalgia or discontentedness. Yet, for the sake of your (captive) audience, let’s keep it realistic. Your good old days were no less imperfect than their soon-to-be good old days.

I remember a more reasonable time, a time when there was no need or ability to compare and contrast the relative difficulty or ease of life. A time when I was content running around outside, inventing games as I went.