The Miracle of Childhood

July 2003 - Now that we have established that I'm "old" (remember The Goat Cheese Incident), the question is, how did I get that way. How did I manage to survive long enough to get as old as I am? When you think about it, it's pretty amazing considering all the danger my parents put me in. I should have been dead long ago.

Let's consider. When I was growing up, bicycle helmets hadn't been invented yet. But every time I announced that I was going to go for a bike ride, my parents never stopped me. So, there I was, riding my bike all over creation – along back roads with only "thismuch" space between me and the cars that whizzed by; speeding down hills gleefully screaming, "Look, Ma! No hands!"

If the bike didn't kill me, a trip to grandma's house might do the trick. Time after time, my parents packed my sister and me into the backseat – without safety seats. Heck, they didn't even make us wear seat belts. And, they were all too happy to comply when we pleaded for more speed as we went over a stretch of road we called "the bumpies." Nothing like going airborne to liven up the trip.

At one point, we had a vehicle called a Ranchero. It had the front of a car and the back of a pickup truck. Rather ugly-looking if you ask me. But it was kind of fun to ride in the back. Sometimes, I'd even sit on the wheel-well. And where was my dad? Driving along with nary a glance into the rear-view mirror.

Having managed not to smash my head on the roof of the car while going over the bumpies, and using my cat-like balance to stay perched upon the wheel-well, I was then faced with the dangerous prospect of going to sleep. Night after night, I just laid there in my non-flame retardant pajamas (with feet, of course). I begged to stay up late, to watch Charlie's Angels or Starsky and Hutch. But, my parents insisted that I put on my non-flame retardant pajamas (with feet, of course) and go to bed.

Since, by some miracle, I always managed to survive the night, my parents resorted to Plan F. Day after day, they packed me off to school with a bag lunch and with little thought to the asbestos lurking in the roof. And lead, schmed. That pale green paint on the walls sure was pretty, wasn't it?

So, as you can see, it is quite a miracle that I survived to tell this sordid tale of my childhood. But, I don't hold any grudges against my parents. While it may have looked like they wanted to get rid of me, deep down I believe that they just didn't know any better. And, all things considered, I feel quite sad for the kids of today. I mean, car seats, bicycle helmets, environmentally-friendly schools. What fun is that?