Good Olde Days

eating watermelon in the summerIf you’ve read very many of my posts, then you probably know by now that I’m a sucker for a deal. “Men Don’t Shop, We Snipe” is a manifesto on my shopping ethos. I have no interest in purchases at retail price, but I also know that coupons are a marketing ploy. Retailers certainly don’t lose any money on them. They’re simply bait to get customers in the store. I’m a staunch Freegan.

EarthFare is a noteable exception. We all need to eat, and though some people would tell you that EarthFare is expensive, I’d tell you that putting crap in your body and sabotaging your health is much more so. High fructose corn syrup? Sure. Pump your body full of this love child of industrial agriculture, and watch your quality of life plummet. Okay, that’s a little dramatic.

Trans fat? Mmm. Can I bathe in it or is it strictly for blocking vessels in my heart?

Artificial food coloring? If I mix Yellow 5, Red 40, and Blue 2, can I guarantee sterility? Cool!

Though I’m sure these rats sneak into EarthFare now and again, the grocery chain has an official Food Philosophy that lists these as banned ingredients. That’s good enough for me.

Add to that some real coupons, meaning good food for free, and I’m sold.

The EarthFare blog recently ran a contest that I entered called “Good Olde Days.” The concept was simple: “If you close your eyes and picture The Good Olde Days, what do you see?”

EarthFare hasn’t posted the winners, but I’m going to share my reminisces anyway:

My first thought was Slip ‘n Slide. What could “good olde days” mean but sliding down a hill on my belly in a burst of water on a hot, hot day?

Summertime in Nashville meant muggy, humidity that always hovered around ninety percent. To keep cool, my two sisters and I, along with other boys and girls in our neighborhood posse, would ride our bikes down to Wildwood, the swim-and-tennis club. That, or we’d pile in my mom’s blue station wagon with wood siding. You don’t see many cars with wood siding anymore.

If we hadn’t packed a lunch—now there’s an antiquated practice!—we’d order curly fries at the pool grill, and if we had been nice to one another and respectful of my mother, we could normally talk her into a Flintstones push-pop and a Fun-Dip. To bug my sisters, I liked to pour the flavored Fun-Dip powder into my mouth and then, before it got wet, blow it into their hair. They would of course scream, “Uh!” in disgust and irritation, which was just what I wanted. For punishment, I’d have to spend a half hour in the sun watching all the other kids continue with their games of Marco Polo and Sharks and Minnows. Somehow, getting that reaction out of my sisters was worth it.

Gas was cheap, costing maybe 15% of what it costs now, and so were movies. $10 bucks would have paid for three Happy Meals at McDonald’s and three tickets to the latest Disney creation. If we weren’t spellbound in a dark theater, we were chasing lightning bugs around the yard with a smattering of our ten first cousins who all lived nearby. Watching those bioluminescent marvels pulse with nuclear green light inside a mason jar was a simple pleasure, a sure pleasure. fireflies in the Smoky Mountains

Watermelon followed the inevitable release of the captive lightning bugs, and a war of spitting seeds always broke out. We could hear the adults murmuring, laughing, telling stories about when they chased bugs and ran barefoot in the cool grass.

And here I am old enough to reminisce. I can’t recall minding sweat back then or stopping to notice if my breath was coming in ragged gasps from playing The Grass Game. Our parents, all the aunts and uncles, had invented it when they were too young to care about gas prices, interest rates, or economic downturns.

In the good olde days, in the summertime, in the company of four generations of family, I had a strong, if unconscious, belief that everything worked out alright. I trusted that my parents were good and that they would always take care of me. If I thought much about kids living in other parts of the world, I probably assumed that they chased lightning bugs and ate watermelon and spit seeds and sometimes had the great pleasure of going to bed dirty.

Two decades later, I’m not sure I was far off. In fact, I’d like to recover that trust because I know now that the best days had everything to do with an attitude and faith and almost nothing to do with a date or circumstances. The best of the good olde days were the ones when I didn’t hesitate to do something childish, something stupidly joyful.

I certainly wasn’t worried about coupons or getting swindled at the grocery store.

I’ll pass on the question: What were the good old days for you?

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