Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

I never thought of that...

Okay, I try to see how other people live. I try to put myself in their shoes. But sometimes something seemingly minor makes you go 'ohmigod' and there's a ping as the light bulb comes on.

I grew up on Air Force bases. That's a little odd, I suppose, although of course it was normal for me, but one of the good things about it was even though we lived in government housing (not particularly spacious duplexes; the biggest room I ever had was probably 9 x 9 feet), once my dad's rank got to be sergeant or above, we always had a yard. (Yes, it's all done by rank. When he was an airman we lived in campers and trailers. The few times I was in a major's house (because as a rule officer's kids didn't mix with enlisted soldier's kids) I discovered it mostly came down to rank, although number of kids was a factor...that one was spacious.) Still, we always had room for a few tomato plants and flowers, and the yard had to be cut to regulation and sometimes, if you were very good, your yard won the base award.

But until I saw the 'I Love the 70s' show for 1975 where the various urban dwellers described the problems inherent with using a Slip n' Slide...I had no idea how different an experience other kids had. See, I loved my Slip n' Slide. It wore a strip of brown grass right down the yard. We have pictures of me in this flourescent striped swimdress where I used to pretend I was Iris, Goddess of the Rainbow (okay, so I was a budding Pagan even then). If I get around to hooking my scanner back up I may link to one of those, since I'm sure there are those out there going, Slip n' Slide, what's that??? In the meantime, let me tell you that it was a long yellow plastic strip that you staked down in the yard which attached to a hose, with water coming up from the sides wetting the surface and removing what friction was left. You then ran at the thing and lept upon it, sliding down the strip. It was sort of a cheap, primative water slide. Since we lived in Louisiana at the time, it was heaven, because it kept us cool during the worst part of the summer and we were miles from the base pool (where I'd nearly drowned already, so I wasn't keen on going back). In retrospect it was probably the closest thing to bungee jumping I've ever done. I guess in some ways I had more courage (or more stupidity) back then. But mind you, this is before they started putting kids in helmets and car seats, etc., so it really didn't occur to us that we might get hurt. In case you're wondering Wham-O still makes Slip n' Slides, although they've added inflatable bumpers, etc., that I suspect are to make it safer. If you're curious, go to the link and then just imagine the kid on the yellow plastic without any of the extra gizmos, sliding maybe 15 feet. That'll give you an idea.

On the show, people were describing running garbage bags down their apartment hallways and since they couldn't use water, they oiled themselves with baby oil. Or they hooked it up to the hose but put it outside on the cement. Ouch! Granted, these are mostly comedians, so who knows if they're telling the truth, but really, I think they were.

I forget sometimes that growing up in the Air Force and occasionally on family farms is a very different life than what the majority of people have had. Lexington is, for example, the largest city I've lived in, although of course I've visited places like Cincinnati, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles. But I just can't see myself living in New York or LA and enjoying it. Or, like my co-worker, someplace even bigger, like Bangkok, where it sounds like the marketplace is right out of that one old Star Trek episode where the planet had too many people.

Put it down to the social phobia, perhaps, but I'm rather glad to have room to breathe.

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