I’ve seen several promotions lately that suggest we "be kids again." It’s a way of marketing stuff like roller coasters and animated movies.
Curiously, none of the promotions I have seen suggested that I swing into the creek on a Tarzan vine or build a raft and float down the river in Huck Finn style .
Nor did they mention poking a hole in a hot biscuit and filling it with cane syrup . I guess being a kid again is relevant to how old you are and whether you had to create much of your own entertainment back then.
I don’t think I have the starch and vinegar left in me to be a kid again the way we did it. When I think of hanging under the trestle on a crossbeam as a freight train passed over, I realize it was kind of stupid. Fun then, stupid now.
And I don’t think I have the same nerves I had back when I would get a running start and sail off the cliffs of the old Fuller’s Earth mine into 40 foot-deep water, not even being able to see the water until I passed over the willow thicket on the second ledge. That was indeed a leap of faith — hoping God hadn’t pulled the stopper out while I was in transit.
And there was that time we ran a cable of bean shade wire across the swamp from up in our tree fort. We put a pulley on it and rode across the swamp, eventually stopping in what one might call a "controlled crash."
Today, I wouldn’t even want to climb up into the tree fort, much less swing out of it on a cable. I don’t bounce as well as I once did.
It has been suggested by several deep thinkers that as we grow older, we should also grow wiser. I hope in some respects I have done that, though the jury may still be out.
And I seriously doubt I will ever again pick up a live rattlesnake. In that rite of passage, I only had to do that once to realize it wasn’t fun. Much like the train trestle episodes, it was rather stupid when I look back on it. Of course among my list of things I have learned along the way is that I know exactly how much pressure it takes to strangle a rattlesnake, not that this would ever be a question on Jeopardy..
I recall the rather simple challenge to see who would be the first to go barefoot to school in the spring. Yancey Maxwell always won that one. And I think he held the record of staying barefoot when winter came on.
But going barefoot doesn’t really make me "feel like a kid again." Back then the soles of my feet were tough as leather. Now I can barely walk across my front yard without wincing.But there are less painful ways to be young again. Last Sunday afternoon my son got out the ice cream churn, and we made homemade strawberry ice cream. That was a front porch thing when I was a kid. But it wasn’t completely authentic because Sunday’s event involved a churn with an electric motor. Lordy, if we had only had one of those back then.
I still like syrup and biscuit now and then. I still put peanuts in my Coke. I found an old store that still sells Squirrel Nut Zippers, Mary Jane’s and Bit-0-Honey. I have more fillings in my teeth than back then, so I have to modify those urges.
Of course we all know that the expression "be a kid again" is rhetorical, not to be taken literally. When Thomas Wolfe said "you can’t go home again," I think he really meant "you can’t go back." In most instances, memories have to suffice. And there are times when we must differentiate between memories and nightmares.
In fact, the counter position of "being a kid again" is even Biblical: "When I was a child, I spake as a child. But when I became a man, I started watching Monday night football and asking forgiveness the next Sunday for the things I said."
Now I know that is not an exact interpretation, but you see I’m an Atlanta Falcons fan, and I also recall another Biblical notation that is on my refrigerator door: "With God, all things are possible." Well God, I’m still waiting.
Dwain Walden is editor/publisher of The Moultrie Observer.