Sunday’s Red & Rover, which is set in an undefined portion of the early 60s, pinged some memories, though my very best days on swings were set in the strictly defined summer of 1958.
I played on the swings every single non-rainy day that summer, on a set of truly bodacious swings in the company housing location.
Picture the biggest playground swings you’ve ever seen and now imagine how a bunch of mining engineers rather than recreational experts would have done it.
Twirling was, as demonstrated here, something you did when it was just you and the dog.
But it required either ropes or fairly light chains, and that’s what indicates that Red & Rover is set in the distant past. Today, and even 25 years ago, with heavy gauge chains and protective sheaths to keep you from getting your little hands pinched between the links, twirling just ain’t what it used to be.
As for the rest of the technology, Bobby and Keith and I had begun playing on the swings before school was out, which meant that we could hit the school library for Jane’s and pick out our airplanes.
They were terrific airplanes, but somehow they got shot down a lot, at which point we would have to bail out and then survive by making spears out of saplings with Keith’s pocket knife, with which we would kill enemy soldiers and poisonous snakes just as they were about to sneak up behind our buddies.
(This had to be done mostly in the gravel pit in order to avoid having Keith’s mother look out the window see us throwing pointy sticks near-but-not-at each other.)
Effective bailing out — as demonstrated by Vintage Buz Sawyer a week ago — required that you be sitting on a wooden board, not pinched in a rubber sling.
Yes, I know you can bail out of a nice, safe rubber sling, but you won’t get the same lift and distance.
Sure, you could hit your head and be seriously injured, though, historically, that was a bigger danger after they invented ejection seats. I know pilots who were killed hitting that canopy, even when it worked right.
But we were talking about wooden swings.
You’re not gonna hit your head on the swing when you bail out. The danger comes when one of your buddies’ aircraft goes out of control.
An airplane that has been hit by enemy fire is, indeed, a serious threat, especially if it happens to be the plane in the middle.
No rubber sling is gonna protect you from that.
(Editor’s Note: There is a remake of “Midway” coming out soon, which the producers say is “The story of the battle of Midway, told by the leaders and the soldiers who fought it.” Even at eight years old, ferchrissake, we knew there weren’t any goddam soldiers in the Battle of Midway.)
Juxtaposition of the Week
When I had kids at home, I needed to be a 9-to-5’er, but about the time the last one left for college, I became middle management and my workaholic tendencies began to take over. I loved what I did and I worked in small enough organizations that there was nobody to hand off to anyway.
There were few days — even when I was hourly — that I didn’t pop in at least to quickly re-check something. It got even moreso once I was salaried and supposedly in charge.
But it occurred to me the other day, as I gazed around the chaos of my apartment, that working at home is a whole other level of workaholism, because, even if I stopped by the office nearly every day, the office was there and my home was here.
I’ve become functionally homeless, and the place looks it.
I know cartoonists who rent studio space for exactly that reason, and others who damn near have to put a timelock on the room where they work at home.
You haven’t had a slavedriver for a boss until you’ve been self-employed.
Oh boy! A chance to say something I shouldn’t!
Zits demonstrates a gender gap I still ponder, but, wisely, mostly in my own head and not aloud.
Women have a different sense of how appearance works than men do.
This leads to jokes about men’s clothing choices — “You’re not wearing that, are you?” — but there are more critical aspects of it, including that a scoop-top blouse can be fashionable but staring down it damn well isn’t.
You don’t have to understand it, fellas, but you better figure it out before Human Resources calls you in to explain it.
I think the concept of “vanity” was mostly invented by the patriarchy. There’s certainly a line where caring how you look and being obsessed over it becomes a fault, but we need a more gender-neutral view of the topic.
Meanwhile, I’m clueless.
I swear to god if a woman with three eyes and her nose coming out the top of her head posted a picture of herself on Facebook in the middle of a massive acne outbreak and a case of the mumps, her friends would comment “Cute!” and “So beautiful!”
Maybe I need to just go watch “Shrek” again.
We can’t put it together. It is together.
I can remember farther back in a young marriage than Arlo and Janis, because I remember before we even had a change jar, going through sofa cushions and closet floors and scraping together enough change on Friday to buy a quart of Miller’s or some sort of Gallo for our big splurge of the week.
I look back on those days with affection, but, then again, our poverty was somewhat self-inflicted, since I was trying to be JD Salinger and we — including a baby — lived on then-wife’s salary as editor of a weekly hotel travel guide.
It wasn’t a geodesic dome in the woods, but it was still a countercultural decision about quality of life.
Greed is not good, but feeding your kids is, and poverty isn’t always a deliberate choice.
Which is to say, putting values first is honorable, but it can come at a cost.