Saturday, August 28, 2004

Pansy-ass Pandemic

(Inspired by a thread posted to on the ‘Terrapin Presents ’ message board and a lunchtime cafeteria conversation.)

Kids today have it easy. If kids of today were to travel back in time to when I was young, entering a playground would be like walking into certain death since they have been wussied in every way possible since pretty much the time of their birth. It has lead way for a significant all out weakening in the “Evolution of the Species”, in my humble oppinion. We are slowly evolving into whiney zoo plankton.

There was none of this nancy-ass plastic molded playground equipment with smooth, multi-colored, gentle angles, in nice non-toxic spongy mulch to prevent possible scrapes and bruising. We had cold monkey bars anchored in cement which only in came in cold, unforgiving metallic gray. It was not much different had we been playing in a scrapyard. The closest we ever had to protection were those hard-ass rubber coated tiles that were every bit as hard as the concrete, but it may limit your injury to a concussion instead of a full-on skull fracture. And we were LUCKY to have that stuff! More often than not, they just spray painted graffiti on the cracked concrete to give it that multi-colored kids play area feel. Also as it happens, that was the way we communicated with each other about the significant events that affected our neighborhood; like who-blew-who-where, and who had the latest inflection of Cooties.

The actual playground apparatuses themselves were even more foreboding when I was a kid, and playing on them was a bout as safe as playing Paddy-cake with Edward Scissorhands. In my childhood, climbing into the Jungle Gym was like entering into a medieval torture chamber. On the slides, you would be inflicted with third degree burns if ever you had the temerity to slide in shorts on a Summers day you would more than likely have to admit yourself into a burn clinic at the local hospital afterwards for skin grafts. And how about the well-thought out physics that went into designing the ingenious Round-a-bout, or “Barf-mobile” as it would be more aptly nicknamed? Place the kids on a single free-spinning axis point, and have them hold on for dear life as they are spun at mach 3 speeds until the massive built-up inertia hurls their bodies at incredible velocities so that they end up as splattered red stains against the brick school wall. Remember the wooden swing sets that we used to try and launch ourselves into orbit off of without ending up with splinters lodged in our ass the size of hockey sticks.

Remember the kid back in the day, who would show up at the playground wearing pads and a bicycle helmet? They inevitably ended up standing out from the other neighborhood kids like John Merrick at a swimsuit contest. No one exactly flocked to be their friend, did they?

We were harder as kids back then, and even though we had things tougher we just roughed it out and shook off the bumps, stitches, and broken collarbones and returned to the playground, business as usual. No lawsuits or nothing! If you take into consideration all the safety improvements that kids have now, as opposed to those available to us in the 70’s and 80’s, then technically those of us over the age of 30 should have been killed off long ago like a dinosaur with Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

Shit, our babycrib's were covered with bright colored lead-based paint and the bars were separated wide and inviting enough to be one of those theme park photographic sets that you just place your face into the proper hole. “Look daddy, I’m a crib death!” We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets. In fact, we probably used those same cupboards under the sink and hid behind those inviting Economy sized bottles of Bleach and Draino when we played ‘Hide n’ Seek’. We drank straight from the garden hose without fear of contracting a deadly strain of Eccoli bacteria. Now, in order to share a bottle of coke with their friends, kids have to undergo prior blood work and be able to pass a standard HIV test *.

We did not have Playstations, Nintendo 64, X-Boxes, no video games at all that didn’t have joysticks controls the size of gear shifts, no 99 channels on cable bvideo tape movies, DVD’s, surround sound, personal cell phones, personal laptops, or Internet chat rooms. We had to go out and meet our own perverts and child molesters to take us out for ice cream!

We would spend hours building Go-carts out of old plumbing parts and then rode down the largest hill we could find at the speed of light as if we were reentering the earth’s orbit. Brakes were for sissies! We used actual trees to stop our momentum.

We punched and kicked and bit one another as part of the natural establishing of the neighborhood pecking order. We just took our lumps and immediately jumped in line behind the Alpha bully of the pack.

We made up games involving sticks and tennis balls that would inevitably leave welts the size of Rhode Island relief maps. And somehow we never managed to poke out any eyes. We left that for the high school Biology class.

Little League had tryouts and not everybody made the cuts. Those who didn’t make the team had to learn to deal with the humiliating shame and disappointment. And forget all that “everybody is a winner” horseshit. Losers were to be mocked and ridiculed mercilessly by the victors. Being a water boy was never cool unless you just liked to be hung from clothes hooks by your underwear while wearing athletic jockstraps on your face.

If we broke the law we were never bailed out. In fact, often it was our parents that were the ones that turned us in!

As a result, this generation has produced some of the best risk-takers and problem solvers and inventors, ever. We have just developed better and more efficient Immune systems to protect us. Those of us who have survived these old school tribulations do not fear germs or infestations. Hell, we can wipe our ass with our hands before we make ourselves a sandwich and not have to worry about contracting any communicable diseases. We could digest pure Bubonic Plague and still manage to make it into work in the morning. Young adults now who have had it easy inevitably have to voluntarily place themselves in quarantine each time someone sneezes within 15ft of them.

People under 30 are pussies! I see it every day in the new employees that are hired to work around me. They are the products of these spoiled, protected, and wussied generations of fashionably safe children. Before they have even so much as adjusted the settings on their swivel desk chair, they’ve been rewarded for having successfully completed the necessary training with a veritable treasure chest of company goodies. “Welcome to the machine!”

On their first day of work, the new employees arrive in their new company monogrammed golf shirts and wind breakers, and begin to spread out their new company brand water bottles, travel mugs, highlighters, erasures, pens, pencils, foamy stress reliever toys, fridge magnets, clip boards, binders, calculators, hemorrhoid cushions, etc, into their new office cubicle space. They look like a fucking Company Superstore! Are they qualified agents, or corporate gift stops? Those under 35 are simply accustomed to being given something for nothing. It’s all about the “stuff”. Meanwhile, beside them, is poor me in a bright yellow Black Diamond cheese product t-shirt with nary a paper calendar and a half-chewed HB pencil that looks like it has been worked over by beavers. Equipped with nothing more than a caffeine rush and a bad attitude.

It’s like being beamed into the plot of some half-assed “buddy” cop movie with the veteran street-smart officer** and the green eager-to-please rookie looking to learn the ropes. I feel like Sgt Ellis in ‘Platoon’ coming to the aid of poor clueless Chris Taylor and offering him friendly, big brotherly tutelage in the field in order to better prepare him for what lies ahead, as well as to avoid eventual run-in’s with the nasty tempered Sgt. Barnes authority figure. Pretty soon, I’ll be shot-gunning the newbie gift groupie through a spill-proof plastic company brand bottle as an initiation to the ruthless world of corporate call centers. Either that, or I’m Robert Duvall the hardened streetwise police officer teaching the laws of the urban jungle to a reckless gung-ho spitfire Sean Penn in ‘Colors’, even though the neon yellow cheese t-shirt probably makes me look more like the rookie Pac-Man than the knowledgeable, seasoned Uncle Bob character.

If I was given all those token company knick-knacks, I’d be selling them to other under-appreciated, disgruntled veteran collectors like myself who have become so accustomed to being offered not so much as a single soup bone for our services over the duration of our lengthy dutiful employ. We would probably be prone to breakdown helplessly in tears of joy if anybody were to single us out for our efforts and reward us with a company brand triangle highlighter or rubber squeezy star ***. Hell, most of us would gratefully trade our souls for a string of company beads just for a single nano-second of gratitude and recognition for our efforts. We’d make those Indians who sold Manhattan Island look like shrewd Jewish Used Car salesmen. “I’ll teach you everything you’ll need to know to succeed in this office place and eventually replace me altogether, but it’ll cost you that ‘Sick Line’ fridge magnet!”

We are not accustomed to having things as easy as these younger pansies, and we know the value of an honest days work. We don’t bring in notes from our chiropractors to qualify us to sit in proper special backbone aligning office chairs, and we don’t whine when there is no more flavored Creamer left in the cafeteria fridge for our coffee. We just rub some instant coffee crystals into our gums and flip over our garbage bins, take a seat, and begin slaving away at our desks through the regular daily grind with not so much as a second thought for our crooked spinal columns. Fuck that, we’re not nancy-asses!

* Bottled water was only to drink if absolutely necessary in crisis situations. Like 7th Inning stretches and nuclear Holocausts.

** I see myself being played by someone resembling a cross between Steven Segal and Rodney Dangerfield.

*** I wonder if this popular demand has given spawn to numerous Black Market company schwag bootleggers, counterfeitors, and scalpers of all novelty office toys and equipment?


Post a Comment

<< Home