Back When WE Were Kids...

by Michele Robert Poche
Originally Published: 

Remember the whole “When I was a kid, I had to walk 10 miles to school … at a 90-degree angle … in flesh-eating snow … through packs of wolves” speech we all got as kids? Every generation gets it. And every generation swears they’ll never repeat it to their kids.

But we’re all a bunch of liars. And I’m taking my turn. Right now.

Dear Children,

Back when WE were kids…

When you liked somebody and wanted to publicize it … you didn’t use Facebook or Instagram. You used the school bathroom wall or sent in a dedication to the radio station. And he or she was always listening … because THERE WAS NOTHING ELSE TO DO.

When you ordered pizza … it was Domino’s. Your topping choices were cheese or pepperoni. And if it took longer than 30 minutes to slap together and hurl at your house, it was free!

When you made popcorn … you used a pot, kernels and oil OR, if you were lucky, a Jiffy Pop kit. And you burned yourself making it on the stove.

When you wanted to see a movie … you waited for the one summer kids’ movie to be released, then you saw it in a flat-floored theater squeezing an envelope of popcorn and a thimble of Coke between your knees because there were no cup holders. And there was a good chance you’d be seated next to a chain smoker, because SMOKING WAS ALLOWED.

When you later wanted to buy that movie … you waited a year for it to come out on VHS or Betamax, paid $80 for it and prayed the tape didn’t snap every time you rewound it.

When that $80 tape malfunctioned … you used a pencil to rewind the entire spool manually so you could salvage your new copy of Grease 2.

When you listened to music on the go … you used a walkman. It was as big as a brick, so tricky to manage while bike riding. Unless, of course, you had a cool basket on your handlebars.

When you liked a song and wanted to own it … you begged your mom to bring you to the mall to buy the record or cassette OR chained yourself to the stereo and waited for it to come on the radio so you could tape it. And usually the stupid deejay talked over part of it.

When you wanted frozen yogurt … you put Yoplait in the freezer.

When there was a prize in a cereal box … it was actually IN the cereal, not encased in a protective plastic condom between the cereal and the cardboard. Made-in-China craftsmanship be damned. They mixed it right in with the food.

When you had to sell candy for school … you put it in a wagon and walked the neighborhood by yourself, unloading it door to door. And no one worried you would be kidnapped.

When you watched TV … you got to choose from three channels, and you prayed like the Pope for good antenna reception.

When you wanted to play video games … you stuffed your quarters into an old sock and begged your mom to take you to the arcade, where you spent hours watching other kids play while YOU WAITED YOUR TURN.

When you wanted to play video games at home … you asked your parents for an Atari or Intellivision “gaming console.” Which was usually hooked up to the old, 12-inch, black-and-white TV you inherited from your grandmother.

When you wanted to communicate via wireless technology … you used a walkie-talkie or, if you were rich, a cordless telephone. None of these items worked worth a crap. You were better off with two cans and a string.

When you needed information for a school report … your mom drove you in the station wagon to the library, where you looked up the Dewey Decimal number in the card catalog to find the funky-smelling book. The whole process took hours.

When you got a McDonald’s Happy Meal (because NO other restaurants made kids’ meals) … you got a slider-sized burger, six fries, eight cookies, five slugs of Coke and a toy. They did not ask what gender the toy was for when you bought it. And it was usually made of delicious, lead-based toxins.

When your mom wanted a diet soda … she drank nasty, WD40-tasting Tab. One calorie of pure evil in a can. Seriously, that should’ve been their slogan.

When you wore shoes (IF you wore them) … you had two choices: sneakers and flip-flops. And you wore them until they fell apart. Even in the pool.

Oh, and when you wanted to take a picture, clip a coupon, look up a word or get directions … you broke out your camera, a pair of scissors, a dictionary or a map. Because THERE WERE NO APPS FOR THAT! The horror!

So, toughen up, kids — you have it pretty damn good. If we survived, so can you!

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