The Good Old Days…?
An older character counsels someone much younger about the golden virtues of how things were “back in the good old days”.
But when did those take place, really? How far back did the good old days begin? And when did they end?
The Good Old Days
I suppose an argument could be made that the “good old days” happened between the ages of 10 and 17-ish. Think about it. By the age of 10, you were old enough to be allowed to ride your bike to your buddy’s place beyond the sight of your own front door, so shenanigans abound. But by 17 you’re getting to that age of your first job, possibly your first (of seemingly never-ending) pickup or sled payments or maybe the start of a post-secondary education and the years of ramen and KD that come with it.
Those seven or so years constitute “the good old days”, throughout which you basically had maid service. Sure, later on you may have been forced to learn to start the washing machine (why are all my white t-shirts pink now?), but by and large, you lived like a Kardashian. All your dinners were cooked and you school lunches made for you.
But maybe the best part of those good old days, beyond a nice home with loving parents who provided the necessities of life for you, was that Mom and Dad footed the bill for the family sleds. Not only that, but they also picked up the tab for gas, oil, belts and spare parts when needed—and that was a lot, because let’s face it, your brother wrecked it every time he pulled the rope, while you ne’er damaged a thing. At least that’s how I remember it.
The Dream is Over
So what comes after the good old days? Brothers and sisters, pull up a chair. Work (or studying) starts cutting into your social calendar in your late teens and early twenties. You have to buy your own groceries and cook them. And you’ll probably find yourself worrying at some point if you have enough empty Pilsner cans in the basement to cover your portion of next month’s rent.
What about the mid- to late-twenties? For lots of folks that brings perhaps job changes or maybe relocations to different towns for work. By now the Mom and Dad sled sponsorship has long since run dry; they quit taking rider applications around the time you got a driver’s licence and the means to commute to your own job. Sorry bud, you’re on your own.
Back in Business
After a forced hiatus from pursuing your chosen passion of sledding (what were Mom and Dad thinking, cutting you off? What’s that? Retirement, you say? Oh…) you’ve learned to scrimp and save and maybe dial back some on the trips downtown to chase girls and drink too much beer. Heck, you might even volunteer to work some extra shifts down at the ol’ salt mine. A year or two of busting your butt, saving pennies and nickels that turn into dollars, and you’re in business once again!
Now is the time…snow check season has arrived, and you finally have the financial means to get the latest and greatest snow rocket for your very own (well yours and the bank’s, let’s face it, you got carried away and were only left with a down payment). Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead! You sign on the dotted line, hand over your cash, and, well, wait. For months. “What the deuce?!” you cry. Sorry young fella, didn’t they explain this part? You give them your money now, and they give you a sled next winter.
So now you’re out your nest egg, plus a loan payment coming out of the bank on something you haven’t even seen yet. “You’re a shrewd businessman,” cackles your dad. You’d say something, but you’re eating a free meal at his place, so he gets a little leeway.
After an interminably long summer (that’s a lie, summers were awesome at that age, for reasons we can’t get into here) there’s a crispness in the air as the leaves change colour to autumn. A few anxious weeks later and you get the call: your snow rocket has arrived!
A Mid-Life Crisis?
Fast-forward a few years, the miles and smiles have racked up. But age is catching up on your (now old) snow rocket, and you consider upgrading to a new snow missile! I’m sorry, dear, what was that? We’re expecting? Expecting what…? Oh, ohhhhhh damn.
Family is on the way. Hobbies get shelved, and properly so. There’s an extra mouth, then maybe two, to feed. Careers to nurture, bills and mortgages to pay. Life has a way of catching you up. Perhaps for the lucky it’s a short time away from the sport they love, sometimes for the unlucky it turns to decades before one is able to get back into the game, if at all.
The Real Good Old Days
Me? I was fortunate. Even with losing my job and starting a business from scratch, I’d argue that THESE are the good days—the “old” part be damned.
I look forward to the good new days, as for the most part, life just gets better and better. As the kids embark on their own paths now as we once did, we look forward to throttling back the workload to enjoy the fruits of our labours, just as Mom and Dad did back in the day.