Is it the End of the Innocence?

Styx is one of my favorite bands, and one of my favorite songs of theirs is Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man).

The song is addressed to a young man who “has it all in the palm of his hand” but is too “troubled” to see it. Part of the chorus is: “You're foolin' yourself if you don't believe it.”

But riding my exercise bike this morning, I heard an extra message in that line: “You’re just not that young anymore.”

How did things change so fast?

See, this weekend I went to a reunion with some old friends from Brooklyn.

Friends from the late 60s and early 70s. Even had some old teachers there.

It’s always nice to take a break from your “current” life to recall "the good old days."

  • As kids, we used to leave our houses in the morning and not come home until it was dark (unless we were hungry) - and our parents never worried about where we were.
  • By the same token, in the streets, all parents looked out for all children – not just their own.
  • We didn’t have Xboxes but we were never at a loss for games.
  • We made them up on the spot, like our own versions of handball and stickball. It didn’t matter that we never had a proper field; we were more than happy to play on pavement.
  • When we played touch football we used to call plays by saying “Run to the blue Chevy and turn around”; what was better than that?
  • If it was a night where we were lucky enough that a game was being broadcast on (local) television, we kept box scores at home and later argued with each other over calls and pitching changes, and if the Mets were ever going to be better than the Yankees – by comparing stats we had recorded ourselves.
  • We took turns imitating the batting stances of our favorite baseball players, and we critiqued them in the voices of our favorite announcers, like Lindsey Nelson, like Phil Rizzuto and Bill White.
  • Even if it was snowing, we got our basketball in – we’d just grab a couple of shovels and clear some space. It didn't matter if you could basically ice skate through the foul lane.
  • We didn’t need parents, or umpires, or organized leagues to keep our games running smoothly.
  • It was easy to divide the teams; this block versus that block, or even Jews vs. Italians. (It wasn’t the most “PC” time, but it was an innocent time nonetheless.)
  • Okay, sometimes we broke a window or two – or scratched a car – but adults seemed more than willing to pay that price to be surrounded by cheerful kids. Plus, we were always super apologetic.
  • You really had to learn to get along with and deal with people back then.

Kids today with their video games – is there any thinking involved at all? (If there is, it seems like the game does more of it than the kid!)

Where did the innocence and creativity of youth go?

Or does every generation feel this way about the next?

Am I being an old curmudgeon?

(Don't answer that!)


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