Monday, July 6, 2009

Hey! I'm on MSNBC!

Some weeks back, I got word that a reporter was looking for input from people who grew up in the 40s and 50s and lived to tell about it. You know, back in those BAD old days, before any of us knew the dangers of suntans, red meat, bicycles, cigarettes, hairspray, hard candy, and such. By all rights, we Boomers should be dead, according to today's health and safety standards. But I feel pretty good myself; how about you? I frankly think my childhood was a lot more fun than what kids today experience, so I wrote the reporter and shared some of my thoughts on that. Lo and behold, he used my comments! Who'da thought it? As it turns out, he didn't do much reporting (doesn't even use a byline; what writer lets that opportunity fall by the wayside?!); he just printed some of the responses he got. But, hey, I'll take my fifteen seconds of fame from whencever they come.

Mostly, I thought it would be fun to use this as a prompt for YOUR memories of "dangerous" living during your childhood days. I've heard my big sister talk about foot x-rays (that was before my time) and I loved my mother's tales of driving the family car to school when she was nine. (Nine?!) One of my own favorite activities--which is totally banned these days--was walking barefoot around town in the summer; it felt sooooo good to go from that hot sidewalk on Main Street onto the cool linoleum of Ben Franklin's Five and Dime or the smooth hardwood floors of my Daddy's Western Auto.

I'm as cautious as the next person, but I think sometimes we get carried away with all these rules and regulations, and I have to say, I think the motivation for all the hoopla is more often about profit than public safety. Several years back I read Myrna Blyth's fascinating book, Spin Sisters, which shares in great detail how the media--women's magazines, in particular--thrive on alarmist stories targeted at "power moms"--those of us who are 25-54 with at least one child at home. Blyth should know; she was editor of Ladies' Home Journal for years, and helped give birth to one of my favorite magazines, More. She readily confesses that she was as guilty as the rest in making us moms second guess our belief that our homes and families are safe. Blyth's need to come clean (or, perhaps, just her need to sell a book, but that's okay) resulted in a mesmerizing examination of how media preys on our insecurities and need for approval. If you haven't read Spin Sisters, go find a copy. It's well worth buying, and certainly deserving of a trip to the library.

In the meantime, I invite you to confess all the horrors your mother may have unwittingly exposed you to in your youth, and the appalling risks you may have taken. Roller skating with no kneepads? For shame! B-B guns? The very idea! Truly, it's a wonder any of us survived to have children of our own.

Here's the MSNBC article. Hope it brings back some happy memories; scroll down seven paragraphs and one ad: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31670024/from/ET/ .