The other day I watched that old Streisand/Redford movie and remembered seeing it when it first came out. So I went tripping down Memory Lane, which is one of my favorite haunts. Back when I still thought Barbra was everything (and maybe I still do somewhere deep down), she asked if it was all so simple then. Well, Babs, it may have been.
Take grocery stores, for example. The most complicated thing about going was bringing back your empties. (Coke bottles, for the young.) You didn’t have to get a receipt, you simply told the cashier how many when you checked out. She (and they were almost all women) would deduct the appropriate amount from your bill, which you paid for with a counter check (blank checks, not specific to your account). There was no identity theft, so no one had to show a driver’s license. This was particularly convenient if you sent your 12 year old child into the store to cash a check and buy cigarettes.
If you went to a restaurant, you either got a salad, or you didn’t. (Unless you were at Luby’s for Sunday lunch.) No need to choose. If Daddy were alive today, he’d think a chopped salad was something the lawn mower chewed up. The only difference was whether the tomato (plain tomato—no Roma, hot house, or any of that business) was sliced or quartered. Cherry (not grape) tomatoes were very exotic.
And church. People either went to a big church or a small church. But a big church just meant there were a lot of people who attended services there. They did not look like Six Flags over Jesus. (I stole that one, but I’ll return it to the owner when I see her on Saturday.)
People actually talked to each other on the phone, partly because you had to answer it. No screening, no answering machines. The phone would ring (literally, none of this pick your ringtone nonsense), and you would answer it hoping it was that cute guy who said he would call. It wouldn’t be, so you’d spend the next hour talking to your Aunt Helen about her phlebitis.
If you wanted to watch something on television, you had to park in front of the set when it came on. And pray that it came on after supper (the evening meal, before it became dinner). And if anyone talked over the punchline of a joke, well, too bad. No backing it up. Lost forever.
So maybe it was more simple. But, I wouldn’t give up my DVR or Netflix. I don’t want to read TV Guide in advance so I can plan to be home when “Imitation of Life” comes on. I wouldn’t give up caller ID and have to talk to people I’m trying to avoid. And I certainly wouldn’t give up the internet where I buy things for less after I’ve checked them out at an actual store.
Most importantly, I wouldn’t give up marriage equality in exchange for the joys of forbidden gay sex…even though doing it with someone who honestly believes that he’s going to hell for doing it is pretty delicious. As I dimly remember.
The way we were…good. The way we are…better. Way better.