I’m breaking promises I made long ago. Once, I swore I’d never write anything that smelled even faintly like a Gimme-The-Good-Old-Days sort of story. The kind with sentences like, “kids, when I was your age.”
I’ve given up the fight.
Today, I went fishing. It was chilly. A skiff trolled around my beat-up boat.
It was a teenage couple. They were supposed to be fishing. Instead, they argued loud enough to beat the band. Their screaming voices traveled across the water.
Their fight ended with a round of name-calling. The young man called the girl a horrid name beginning with the sixth letter of the alphabet.
She fired back something worse.
After the fight, they spent the next hour playing on cellphones. No talking.
And just like that, my promise went out the window.
The first thing I’d like to say is:
I’d rather cut out my liver with a dull melon-baller than call a lady a name that rhymes with “truck-face.” Such an act would be an affront to the woman who raised me.
Second: put your phones away, kids.
A few days ago, it was Christmas. I visited my buddy’s house. After his kids opened gifts, the children hibernated on the sofa. There, they interacted with Apple products, thumb-tapping, for three hours.
I asked if anyone wanted to play cards. They looked at me like I had lobsters crawling out my pants. Thus, I played solitaire.
That’s too bad. Cards were a big deal during my childhood. I remember playing poker on the kitchen table with uncles who kept spitting into paper cups.
Back then, we had no smartphones. We had big stupid ones with cranks and four-digit phone numbers. The smartest device in our household was Mama—who could expound on anything from navigating to the interstate, to curing black lung using baking soda.
So, even though I swore I’d never say this: I miss the days before intelligent devices.
I miss a time when instant communication among peers meant riding bikes. When children had energy to play all day, and still would.
Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t want to go back in time—that would mean pimples and school dances. And I don’t hate technology, either. I’m a big fan of the calculator.
What I wish is that we had a few more simple things. I wish more people knew that love can be built using nothing but words and smiles. That calling someone names is a lot like murder.
I wish the kids in the boat beside me would tell each other how beautiful the other one is and mean it.
But above all, I wish they’d turn off their phones.