I’m Alive! And It’s A Miracle.

Posted by admin on August 4, 2014 in Growing Up |

It’s funny how governments think they have to save us from the world in which we live. I recently learned that kids under 18 can no longer tan, even if they got the permission of their parents. Yes, one day you are 17 and you can’t tan, a birthday comes and goes, and the next day you can, as if by magic something in your physiology changed to make tanning safe in 24 hours.

Now, I have never tanned. I don’t even like to lie out in the sun on a sunny day to get a tan. After eight years in Florida, I am still as albino white as when I first went there, except in odd places where incidental tanning would happen while I was involved in some outdoor activity.

This, as you can imagine, has led to some interesting tanning looks. Usually all that tans is my chest, in a V-line from a pirate shirt, the criss-crosses of the lacing creating a matching criss-crossing of tanlessness across my chest.

Thankfully, the government hasn’t come up with legislation to make this practice illegal, though I am certain it breaks at least one or two laws of good fashion sense.

As long as I am coming clean here, I don’t own a bicycle helmet. True, I don’t own a bicycle either, but even when I did, I didn’t wear a helmet. There’s a reason for this. I didn’t wear one as a child, and that was when I did all sorts of dangerous bicycle related activities, such as riding down the centerline of Sunset Boulevard in Renton while two cars passed inches from me, heading in opposite directions.

I know, a helmet wouldn’t have saved me then either. It probably could have come in handy though when I was jumping my bike off of a dirt mound and the front fork broke off. But somehow I managed to walk away without a scrape or a helmet.

That’s the way it was when we were kids. We didn’t need to have all this protection to keep us safe. Somehow, most of us managed to grow up just fine. I don’t know of a single friend who is rocking in a corner somewhere, brain damaged beyond repair because he took a nasty fall in our childhood youths and wasn’t wearing a helmet.

Before you go all PC on me, I know this happens. It just never happened to anyone I knew of.

We didn’t have seat belts either. Remember back when cars didn’t have seat belts? Your mom’s arm served as your restraint system in an accident. It would swing automatically from out of nowhere and keep you in place. Well, try to keep you in place.

Our 1965 Ford Galaxie actually had seat belts. My dad ordered them as an option. They were the old school kind that went across your lap, like the ones still used on airplanes. They would hold your waist in place in an accident while the rest of your body folded like origami, striking the rock-hard dashboard or the steering wheel.

In our family, the seat belts largely became an uncomfortable bulge under our respective butts. No one wore them in the family. If one of us boys were ever to click it, a rain of endless jibes and insults would come crashing down on from the other boys and we would never live down the moment we actually used a seat belt.

Not that I couldn’t have used one at one point. When I was very young, my mother put me in the car – a running car – and went back in the house to get something. I still am not sure what happened as I was probably four or five, but the car shifted into gear and started to take a little tour of the yard. It finally came to a stop in the woods, my mother in hot pursuit. The only casualty was a Tonka Toy truck that was flattened by 4,000 pounds of 1962 Ford Galaxie.

As I said, it’s a miracle I am alive.

It’s a miracle any of us are, really. I still remember pulling out the ladder every once in a while so that I could climb up onto the roof. My parents never really thought twice about it, except to caution me that some of the shingles were a bit loose and to step lively when I was up there.

I would test out various things – a new parachute I had designed, a hang glider that I made for my GI Joe, Joe’s space capsule with dual parachutes (not recommended, the spacecraft was lost) – or to retrieve an errant badminton birdie, ball or arrow, which had been shot into the air I knew not where, only to find it impaled in the roof.

Thankfully, I never came close to falling off the roof, though I did fall off the ladder once when one of the rotted wooden rungs finally gave way. My father never replaced anything until it absolutely could not be repaired any longer, and that included the ladder.

A miracle, I know. It certainly is a miracle I’m alive, given that Safe & Sane fireworks back in the day were never safe nor sane in the hands of young boys with bold ideas. We would always take these things apart and reuse the powder for less than safe purposes, such as packing the powder all into the engines of one of our model airplanes and lighting the fuses to see if we could improve on the idea of afterburners. Inevitably our idea would fail miserably, usually in a ball of flame or an explosion, at which point we decided that balsa airplanes would be much more fun, for at least they were far more flammable. Ever a rocket from a pinwheel on a balsa prop plane? It’s a gas!

Ah, the fun of our youth. Today, kids have no idea what to do with their time. We’ve taken all their fun away, requiring helmets and kneepads and restraints and car seats. How can we ever prove that Darwin was right when all these rules and regulations make everyone survive and seem the fittest.

In the Emerald City, looking for some Sparklers, a ladder and a can of gasoline,

– Robb

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