Back In My Day...

Back In My Day...

I never did find my trusty old heater—that big one on wheels.

So I bought a replacement. A radiator-style heater (no fan for cat fur to clog up) on wheels. But you know what? They don’t make ‘em like they used to.

I am quite disappointed with the new addition. It works. But not like the other one.

I miss my old one.

The more life chaos that jumps into our circus rings and further scatters our ducks-already-not-in-rows, the more my bones hurt and the wearier my soul becomes. Part of it is stress.

Part of it is middle-age-ish-ness. The heater on wheels dealt me a firm realization—in more ways than one.

Hot Mess Realization #1: If I double my current age, I’m more than likely a dead woman.

Half of my life. Gone. Poof! Like my old heater on wheels that went who-knows-where. That high school play we watched last week? They were all babies on stage. Babies, I tell you!

The thirty-something that just served me my blueberry muffin and Diet Coke is also a baby. Young ‘un, even.

Forget middle-age-ish. I’m full-blown in the middle. Perhaps a bit past that, even.

Hot Mess Realization #2: I have old-ish bones. My grandmother used to back her hind end up to her wall-mounted gas heater years ago. She’d get so close her clothing would have tiny scorch marks tattling that she’d stood too long trying to warm her old bones.

I tried backing my caboose up to this new-fangled heater, hoping for a tiny bit of sting. A good few seconds of a thermal hug that would stay in my clothing long enough for me to get back to the couch and wrap up in my fuzzy unicorn blanket, trapping the comfort. Nope. This new-fangled device comes with way too many safety features and not an ounce of true fabric-singing, bone-warming output.

I could ride this radiator heater like a department store penny pony for hours and not even break a sweat.

Break a bone, maybe. But not a sweat.

Hot Mess Realization #3: I have become my ancestors.

When I tried to wheel the new heater to a smaller room, one of the casters folded in on itself. It’s supposed to fold for easy storage, but not while in use. And the wheels are held on with plastic. I heard myself say—out loud: “They don’t make stuff like they used to.”

In that second, I heard all four of my grandparents, parents, and quite a few great-aunts and great-great uncles declare their opinion of shoddy workmanship and the decline of civilization in general come out of my mouth.

How often did I hear one of them declare, “Back in my day…”? The struggles of getting to their one-room school house. The nothing-but-potatoes for dinner nights. The lone orange in a Christmas stocking. The landline telephone, complete with party line gossip. The days of going all the way outside to turn the antenna to pick up one network on a television the size of the Titanic. The frustration of untangling manual typewriter ribbons and hammers. Outhouses and the Sears Roebuck catalog pages.

After I think of the things they endured, my heater problems are indeed trivial. I could, after all, just turn on the furnace.

I began to wonder what I would tell future generations.

Back in my day:

  • I stored my school assignments in a Trapper Keeper. (Certain styles of the original brand sell on eBay for over $100. Should’ve kept that kitten one…)
  • I drank unfiltered well water.
  • I rode in moving vehicles without a car seat — or seatbelt.
  • We had the same phone for 15 years.
  • "Streaming" is when the ribbon billowed out from the VHS tape when the VCR malfunctioned during a rewind.
  • A massive wooden drawer system full of tiny cards with book titles was my Google.
  • I had to be in the living room on time to watch Friends or miss the episode entirely.
  • I had to switch chargers for my phone because Apple kept changing the port size.
  • The network only went to 5G.

All small problems—if they could be considered problems at all. Not at all on the level of the lone orange in the Christmas stocking.

So… what to do with these Hot Mess Realizations?

Count my blessings. I have things much easier than those who came before me. However, I’m sure I’ll occasionally play the age card and declare loudly how things were better back in my day.

I’ll keep my chiropractor appointments. My Back Guy adjusts the joints and the attitude on occasion…

And, since I’m just-past-middle-age-ish…

Get the next book finished, Beth. Good grief! Time’s a tickin’ away.

And turn on the furnace so your fingers don’t freeze to the keyboard.

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