Bruce’s ‘No Longer Necessary’ Award Nominees
I don’t know how many times I have told my wife, “I will NEVER do that again.” I am sure at the time I said it I really meant it. But in this case, I can say with all honesty, these are things that I will NEVER DO AGAIN because they won’t be around for me, or you, to do any way. Here are some of my fond memories of things that are no longer relevant in today’s world, but I bet you experienced them too. Here are my nominees for “Bruce’s No Longer Necessary Awards.”
The pencil. I love pencils. I make mistakes; so the pencil is my friend whenever I attempt to write a personal note. There was a time when the pencil was a major player in another area in my life. I used pencils a lot in my high tech audio arsenal. Don’t tell me you have never rewound or fixed a cassette tape with a pencil? The pencil was just pointy enough to grasp the notches inside the cassette tape’s reel. It was also small enough to fit in the hole in the tape case so you could manipulate tape that had been eaten by the Wal-Mart Kraco cassette player. You could also slip the point of the pencil underneath the thin tape and pull it away from the case giving you free reign to untangle, untwist and then skillfully rewind for your musical enjoyment. I don’t know how many cassettes I have that were saved by the simple yet elegant design of the pencil. Good for sharing ideas, even better for making sure “Asleep At The Wheel” would be ready to play when I got in the car.
I NEVER stooped to the extremely juvenile and really-not-that-funny prank calls involving refrigerators or Prince Albert in a can. As a young man with a grown up voice at an early age but not the maturity to match, my telephone pranks were a lot more involved. I had some favorite pranks that never failed to get a laugh, especially since we recorded most of them for play back later in the evening. Who knew that was against the law! A classic phone prank I loved to pull was pretending to be from the phone company and getting the victim to stick their tongue out and say ahhh. This was done under the guise of trying to prevent the spread of the flu virus over phone lines. It was pretty amazing how many people actually bought that hai- brained idea. Another favorite prank was to call numbers at random and ask to speak to Jemma Stump. Jemma Stump was a girl I met on a trip to Texas when I was six years old. I just liked the sound of her name. The calls would basically be me asking to speak to Jemma Stump and, when the people would say I had the wrong number, I would argue. I would ask why they were trying to hide Jemma from me. I knew she was there and that she was cheating on me! Imagine my surprise when I called a number at random, asked for Jemma Stump and there really was a Jemma Stump there! Alas, there are no more prank calls because of caller ID and the callback feature you can get with your phone service. I guess Jemma Stump will just have to fade into my foggy past, along with the great memories of the sleepovers of my youth.
In the language of today’s America asking someone to “blow anything” is likely to bring on a lawsuit. In my not-too-distant past the idea of blowing a game cartridge was not only acceptable, it was encouraged. I don’t know whether it was the force of our breath or the tiny specks of spittle that washed debris from the contact points of our Ninetendo games, but it sure seemed to work. Dick Licklider was a friend of mine. Yes, that is his real name and you say it just like you think you would say it. And, yes, he caught hell growing up. He was our game-blower of choice. There was something magical about the way Dick could blow Mario Brothers, Zelda, even all of Major League Baseball. His magical breath brought non-functioning games back to life for more extended hours of mind-numbing fun. With today’s online gaming and CD games there is no need for a guy like Dick Licklider. The games of today do not need us to breathe life back into them. Such is the way of the world, I guess. You’re born, you get a goofy name, you develop a skill that makes you a “somebody” and then progress makes you obsolete.
To this day, I have no idea how to make the letter Q in cursive writing. You remember cursive writing: the eloquent flowing letters, the precise lean slightly to the right, the reason so many left handed people have substance abuse problems? Yes, I am left handed and, quite frankly, I was ready for cursive writing to be gone back when I was in third grade. Cursive was a great word of my youth, it was almost talking dirty but you could say it in school! Did you ever tell anyone you could see their epidermis? That was another fun word you could say at school and not get detention. Ahhh! The innocence of youth! But I should get back on task. Cursive writing, I think, will be gradually phased out of all of our lives over the next few years. It will go the way of Roman Numerals, changing America to the metric system and Charlie Sheen; we will learn not to care at all. The way I look at it, I learned how to make 25 of the 26 letters using cursive writing and, in today’s America, that puts me way above average. So here’s to you Upper Case Cursive Q! Why do you look like that anyway?
You would think with all of the horror stories we were told after safely playing lawn darts and dodge ball for decades, somebody would have physical proof of how deadly they were. We always heard stories of some kid in Oklahoma taking a Lawn Dart in his noggin’, going into a coma and then waking up as a congressman but I NEVER saw any proof. Lawn Darts were not dangerous; they were simply horseshoes with points that left a smaller bruise when they hit you. Horseshoes. Now those things are dangerous, especially when your brother is mad at you! Dodge ball is still played in some school systems where the fear of litigation and snooping room mothers don’t govern the curriculum, but for the most part it is a sport that is fading away. I mean, if the object of the game is to knock the crap out of someone with a rubber ball, that CAN’T be politically correct. However, dodge ball was and still is a metaphor for life. This game taught us to stand up for ourselves and be willing to stare down our adversaries. It is this attitude that made America great once upon a time. Now, we are just a nation of pudding. Our kids cry foul when they don’t get a trophy for simply showing up. In dodge ball, your trophy was earned. It was a giant red mark on your back or belly that burned like the fire of a thousand suns. This mark gave respect in two different ways, depending on whether you made the throw that left the mark or whether you sucked up the pain and wore the mark with pride. Lawn Darts and Dodge Ball, they were part of my formative years. They taught me well and now they and the lessons they taught are not welcome anymore. I just don’t see how saving a cartoon princess with a joystick will make America great again, but I will hold my judgment for a few more years.