Friday, September 24, 2010

Classmates of old

I recently took a trip down memory lane thanks to the wonders of modern technology.
I was checking out my Facebook account (at home, not at work or anything like that, because that would be against the rules and breaking the rules is wrong) and I noticed several friend requests from people I went to high school with.
Most of these people I have not even seen since the last century, so I decided not to add them to my list of friends.
I noticed one of my old classmates had close to 200 friends so, just for fun, I clicked on the little thingy that lets you see them all and I was transported back to the days of zits, cassettes and a head full of hair.
To be honest, I had forgotten most of these people even existed. As you may have guessed we were not real close in high school.
It was kind of interesting to see how everyone changed over the past couple of decades or so.
Like me, many have gained weight and lost hair - some have done more of each, some less.
One former classmate really caught my attention because back in 'the day' she was the hottest thing to ever walk down a hallway.
She was the girl all the guys talked about in our testosterone-fueled way of looking at life. Needless to say, very little of those conversations is fit to print in such a fine publication as this because, as has been proven by science, when teenage boys are not thinking about sex, it means they are dead.
That's one way to see if a 16-year-old, hormone-driven young man is alive - hold up a picture of a bikini-clad hottie and he will come out of a coma just to look at it.
Anyway, seeing a picture of the former lust of my life in her mid-40s seriously damaged my memories of her. She is now just slightly smaller than a VW Bug.
My, how things have changed.
There were people in there I had not thought of since graduation - some by choice, others because I just forgot about them.
Most of the jocks are now sporting spare tires large enough to fit a big rig and one of them even posted something along the lines of 'Hey do you remember the big football game when I...'
No, but I do remember a post-jock meathead who's glory days ended when he graduated high school and he is still talking about them more than 20 years later.
Some classmates still look really good - great shape, full head of hair, outstanding careers - I hate 'em.
But the vast majority have gone on to live regular type lives and simply blend in to society, but in high school they were the elite rulers - the best athletes, cutest girls or came from the richest families.
Back then it seemed so important to make the rep team in hockey, or the football or basketball team.
One guy who I hung around with for a while was a star hockey player. He lead the league in scoring several seasons and I must admit to some intimidation and jealousy towards him at the time.
The last time I saw him (which was about 10 years ago), he was a 300-pound, tub-of-goo booze hound trapped in a dead-end job with all the charm of a rectal polyp. All those goals he scored in minor hockey really did not mean a thing.
Many years ago, I realize it just is not that important to score a few goals, or get a touchdown.
But, back in high school, your entire life status was based on such silly standards. However, with age comes wisdom and the realization it really doesn't mean a damn thing in the grand scheme of life.
Too bad you have to be old to be wise.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Back to school rules

The TV commercial sums it up perfectly.
You know the one ñ well you parents out there know the one. 
It's the back-to-school commercial using the classic Christmas carol that goes “It's the most wonderful time of the year...”
Parents know what I am talking about and you can tell who the parents are because they are the ones who have been looking at the calender and smiling uncontrollably for the last week.
It is that wonderful season where the leaves are turning colour, the air is crisp and, most importantly, the kids are returning to that place of learning that not only offers increased education, but gives parents a much needed break.
Can you give me an “Amen.”
Depending on what grade your sproggs are in, school can mean freedom from the little ones for up to seven hours.
The song Dancing in the Streets also comes to mind.
You load the little ones up with their lunch and send them off (smiling all the way), or if you have teens like I do, you drag them out of bed and force them out the door (smiling all the way).
Either way, they are out of the house and you can then do that dancing I was talking about.
I am not much of a drinker, but a small glass of celebratory champagne always seems in order somehow. You watch them trudge down the sidewalk along with hundreds of other kids, all thinking about the summer past and how it went so fast.
Parents also think about the summer past, how it went so fast and how much you appreciate the fact it went so fast and it is now time to shuffle the kids off to the hallowed hallways of higher learning.
Don't get me wrong, I love my kids and I enjoy spending time with them because I know they will soon outgrow their childhood home and move on. We had a good summer of family vacations, mini-road trips, camping and hitting the beach, but after two months of “family togetherness” a little “family separation” is a welcome break.
It is also needed. Separation makes the heart grow fonder, but how can I miss you if you don't go away.
The downside of back to school is the expense of getting all the kit they need these days.
As a youngster, my parents had to shell out their hard-earned cash for paper, pens, books and the usual trappings needed in the public school system.
Today, the request is not for more lined paper, but for a laptop powerful enough to operate the space shuttle. It also costs just slightly less than my first two cars ñ combined.
They “neeeed” the laptop. They cannot possibly attend school without it and they certainly cannot succeed with out it.
“What about the PC downstairs? That still works, doesn't it?”
“Barely. It is old, it is slow and I can't pack it around with me everywhere I go.”
“But, you can do your school work on it though, right?”
“Well, yes, but it is old and slow and I can't pack around with me every where I go. I neeeeed a laptop. You want me to do the best I can do, right, well, I neeeeed a laptop to do that.”
Good one kid, you are learning the art of parental manipulation and how to exploit the situation to best serve your wants. I guess they learn more than how to read and write in school.
Now if you will excuse me, I have to go shopping for a laptop because, it would seem Junior “neeeds” one or he will wind up flunking out of school and living under a bridge somewhere all because I did not get a new computer machine thingy.
But I guess in an age of technology, a slide ruler and a multi-colour pen just isn't going to cut it any more. 

Friday, September 3, 2010

Sorry for speeding, but....

The excuses started forming the instant I saw him.
The 'him' to which I refer was a cop sitting on a little pull out road at the side of the highway. I was the guy in the little red car going slightly faster than what some official type decided was good for the motoring public.
I was not breaking the sound barrier or anything, but my speedometer did nudge past the legal 90 km/h allowed by that official type guy.
I am not totally sure how it happened. I do drive a Toyota, so maybe I could plead mechanical woes and deny the heightened speed was my fault.
Darn those Toyota engineers and their wonky gas pedals.
Anyway, I noticed the keeper of the peace sitting in his car as I zoomed past and I knew I had been had - caught red handed, or in this case, lead footed.
"I am sorry I was speeding officer, but my water broke and..."
OK, that one isn't gonna work.
"I am sorry I was speeding officer, but I think speed limits suck."
OK, not the best way to try and talk your way out of a ticket.
"I am sorry I was speeding officer, but I am late for work and if I am late one more time my cruel and heartless boss will fire me and my children will end up begging in the street. Please, kind and wise constable, think of the children. I beg of you, think of the children."
OK, that one might be a little over the top.
"Say, um, Mr. Policeman, uh, how many boxes of donuts will it take to make this whole thing go away?"
Definitely not the right approach.
Realizing arguing with a traffic cop who has you dead to rights is like trying to outrun a dog - it just isn't going to happen - I then switched to resignation mode.
I resigned myself to the fact I was going to get a speeding ticket, my first in many years.
There was a time in my youth when I had amassed enough tickets to wallpaper by bedroom - and not just one wall, but the entire room.
Back in 'the day' I didn't just have a lead foot, my entire right leg was made of the stuff because I just could not stay off the gas and personal interaction with the local law-enforcement community was the result.
I was not a bad guy or anything. I didn't drink, I didn't do drugs, but I did have a tendency to drive in a manner that was in conflict with rules set out by that official type guy I was talking about earlier.
But with age comes maturity, and with maturity comes a realization that the three minutes I save by speeding are not worth the fines and hassles of getting a ticket.
But on this particular day, I simply was not paying attention to how fast I was going - until I saw the Kojak with the Kodak on the side of the road, then my speed became the most important thing I could think of.
I saw the cop car and immediately looked at the speedometer to find I was going almost 20 km/h over the limit. Oops.
Realizing my sin against traffic laws, I slowed down and watched the cop car for those pretty little lights to come on, but they never did.
In fact, the cop did not even pull out of his hiding spot.
Hallelujah, more proof God loves me.
After a few seconds I began to relax. I also decided to keep a closer eye on how fast I was going, which was a good thing because the second cop I saw a couple of klicks down the road may not have been so forgiving, and besides, I was all out of donuts.