Last weekend Gill and I ditched our kid and went out on the town for the evening. We went to the movies to see Clash of the Titans and ate dinner at our most favorite restaurant, The Melting Pot.
As I savored every last bite of the scrumptious meal and gushed to my husband about how much I liked the movie, I had an epiphany. I ordinarily have most of my epiphanies in the shower, so this was unusual. Yet, an epiphany it was, and it was this: Some things are always just as good and some things are not. The genius lies in the simplicity, folks.
Since having a child, I’ve begun to reflect more on my own life, especially my childhood. There are people, places and things from my past that I will never forget, some because they’re still the same and some because they’ll never be the same again. I’m sure you have these, too. But I don’t know what yours are, so I made a list of mine. ‘Kay?
KATIE’S LIST OF THINGS SHE LOVES TO CURMUDGEON ABOUT
1. Pizza Hut and McDonald’s: When I was a kid, entering the doors of a Pizza Hut and/or McDonald’s was akin to a Jew entering the Holy Land, i.e. sacred, humbling. Each time I sank my teeth into a mouthwatering piece of Personal Pan Pizza or slurped from my ginormous cup of fountain Pepsi with the perfect syrup to fizzy water ratio, my little heart rejoiced. Each time I dipped my crispy McNugget into honey or crammed my cheeks full of fresh, hot, salty fries, I was born again. Yes, in those days I worshipped at the Golden Arches and collected all the Care Bears glasses from Pizza Hut.
The last time I ate lunch at McDonald’s, it sat like a ball of greasy, grisly clay at the pit of my stomach for the rest of the afternoon. And I don’t know whether you’ve noticed, but the reason Pizza Hut’s cheese doesn’t stretch for miles anymore is because it’s been frozen. It’s not the same.
2. Running around outside in the summertime. Some of my best memories from childhood are of running around outside in the summertime. Summer days, to a kid, are full of wine and roses. And dirt and sweat and bug bites. After being cooped up all winter inside our houses and classroom prisons, we burst forth from front doors and back porches like a bunch of little Tim Robbinses to three months of barefooted freedom. We rode our bikes and climbed trees and rolled around in the green grass and fragrant mud. We went places our parents forbade us to go, like the woods and through Ms. Poplin’s backyard. We yelled and screamed and laughed and had fights and made up and played Thundercats on top of the woodpile. Then we were called inside, cleaned up, fed dinner and, joy of joys, allowed to go back outside and do it all over again…with fireflies. When it finally got dark, we were called inside for the night where we guzzled some Kool-Aid, had a bath and tumbled, exhausted, into bed, covered in pink dots of Calamine lotion and lulled to sleep by the Braves’ announcers. Ahhh, summer. Heaven.
Nowadays, summer is hot. And sticky. And then hot again. And there are mosquitoes and humidity. And it’s hot. And you can’t run around barefoot all day because 1) you have to go to work 2) people don’t clean up after their dogs. It’s not the same.
3. Swimming in a public pool. Every now and then, my sister and I will hear a song on the radio and proclaim in unison, “Concord Swim Club!” Our family had a membership at Concord Swim Club, the local pool, the entire time we were growing up. It opened the Saturday after Memorial Day and closed usually around the time school started again. In between were days filled with Marco Polo, the high dive and the mingled smells of chlorine, hot asphalt and hamburgers on the grill. I can see myself now, sitting by the side of pool during adult swim, wrapped in a damp Jem and the Holograms towel, eating a Push-Up and listening to Whitney Houston and Men at Work blaring from the loudspeakers.
I really kind of dislike getting in public pools now. Little ones (and some adults) pee in the pool and very little ones have been known to have “diaper incidents”. So because of the pee-pee and diaper incidents, pool owners put loads of chemicals in the water, which are sort of very, very brutal to my hair and skin. And did you know that snakes like to hide in the drains of pools? It’s not the same.
KATIE’S LIST OF THINGS THAT WILL FOREVER STAND FAST, MIGHTY AND SURE AGAINST THE SWIRLING, RAVAGING, VICIOUS WINDS OF CHANGE…AND STUFF
1. Ice cream. Ice cream is still cool, creamy and sweet. Whether you have double chocolate with brownies and chocolate syrup or just simple, unassuming vanilla, ice cream always comforts, always delights. The other night I told Evie her daddy was going to take us all out for ice cream. She promptly lost her mind, running around the kitchen with one shoe on and one shoe off, yelling, “Aye keem! Aye keem!” Ice cream is definitely still the same.
2. Strawberries and watermelon. I’m not talking about the oversized, dry, flavorless strawberries and watermelon you get at the Teeter. (Although, true to the spirit of this list, those have always sucked.) I’m talking about Farmer’s Market fruit, picked at its seasonal height and brought to you in baskets loaded on the back of dirty pickup trucks by old men with only three teeth. I’m talking about strawberries that burst in your mouth and taste like the very season in which they grow and watermelon so red and juicy you have to eat it over the sink. Strawberries and watermelon are proof that God still loves us.
3. Clash of the Titans. I have seen this movie approximately 2,325 times since I was 6 years old. I know every line by heart. I still harbor a crush on Harry Hamlin, even after he married that hideous creature with the bad hair and slimy lips. Nothing, not Siskel nor Ebert nor my husband, can convince me that this movie is not a national treasure. I mean, seriously, you have Oliviet, completely let loose to chew on all the scenery he wants, a stop motion flying horse and massive sea creature, and Burgess Meredith, pre-Rocky, randomly spouting exposition and running around in a robe like Greece’s answer to a crazy ol’ homeless man. What more could you ask for? Nothing. It is a perfect, perfect thing.
Lists like these prove that I’m getting older. But, then again, I know what I like. I know what’s good. I rarely eat at McDonald’s, I don’t buy supermarket strawberries, and one day I’ll get my husband to dress up as Zeus and feed me ice cream while we lounge by our own private pool. In the summertime.