The expression is as old as the hills. Still, it’s little wonder that a friend’s granddaughter, a high school sophomore, wanted a definition.
“DaDaDa,” she said, “one of my teachers at Sanderson keeps talking about the good old days. When were the good old days?”
“Caroline,” my friend replied, “you are living them right now. They are the days when a whole marvelous world lies before you, not behind you. It’s a time when your knees don’t hurt, a time when you awaken in the morning, a time when you go to sleep in movies and have no idea what the movie was about.
“It’s a time when the grocery store checkout clerks don’t ask if you need help getting your groceries to the car.”
“Oh,” the granddaughter replied, “it’s a time before you became a grandfather. Right?”
I might add that everyone has his or her own idea of what constitutes the good old days.
The people you knew and liked, as well as loved, were a part of those days.
For some of us, the majority of them are gone, but the memories they made with us are woven into the skeins of our “good old days.”
To our grandchildren, our good old days may sound woefully bland and boring. Yes, people once lived without iPads, bicycles, beach vacations, TVs or summer camps! They never had dot-com addresses. They never twittered before breakfast. Back then, only birds twittered.
“And those were the good old days?” our grandkids might wonder sympathetically.
Another definition of the good old days might simply be those days when we were chasing the sweet bird of youth and thought we’d live forever.
Pain of quitting
Reader Jim Richmond remembers that the late Duke Law Professor J. Francis Paschal taught a course at UNC Law School one semester.
Jim said it soon became apparent to the class that Professor Paschal was experiencing the agony and the ecstasy of giving up cigarettes.
Jim said that near the end of the semester, he overheard a fellow student ask, “Professor, do you think you will ever smoke again?”
“I don’t know,” the professor replied, “but I sure as heck will never quit again.”
Anyone who has quit smoking can appreciate the professor’s comment.
On a tour across Canada some years ago, I was surprised and impressed by the almost smoke-free experience. I attributed that in great part to the large-print warning on cigarette packs that read, “Tobacco Can Make You Impotent.”
“Wow! I’ll bet that would cure some addicts back home,” I commented to a fellow traveler.
“No way, “ he said, “a truly addicted smoker prefers cigarettes to sex.”
When I mentioned to our tour director that I was a former smoker from the nation’s foremost tobacco-producing state, he recalled that he once was assigned to conduct a tour made up of only North Carolinians.
“I’m highly allergic to cigarette smoke,” he said. “When we took our breaks or stopped for lunch, almost everybody lit up immediately. So I usually discreetly separated myself from the smokers. As a result, some of the critiques at the end of the tour noted that the tour director seemed ‘distant.’”
When I pointed out that only three of our tour group of 35 were smokers, the guide said softly, “Yes, they’re a dying breed.”
I have no idea how much Sean Spicer is paid as the current White House press secretary. Whatever it is, he’s welcome to the job.
Spicer certainly doesn’t seem to enjoy what he’s doing. He reads most of his comments and then braces himself, waiting for the crossfire of questions from a room full of reporters frantically waving their hands in the air like first-graders asking permission to go to the bathroom.
So I understand when he from time to time brushes off a query with “That’s a silly question” and moves on.
And, in truth, some questions do seem silly.
Sometimes, Spicer seems on the verge of tears as he seeks to explain, among other things, his boss’s before-breakfast tweets. Watching the scenario is much like watching a June bug being pecked to death by a bunch of chickens. It isn’t pretty.
Food for thought
Glancing through some of my wife’s discarded birthday cards, I was impressed by the message on one:
God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones I do like, and the eyesight to tell the difference.