I started thinking the other day about how it had been a long time since I’d balanced my checkbook, and that I’d better get on that ASAP. But then I had a revelation that hit me hard, and I thought, why should I bother? You know how many checks I write each month? One. And even that bugs me – I like to pay my bills online, and my homeowner’s association bill can only be mailed in. (The mere fact that I even have a monthly HOA bill irritates me. HOAs are great…in the same way that Communism and Justin Bieber are terrific. But I digress). What is the point of balancing a checkbook if you don’t write checks? All the information is available through online banking, and it’s pretty much up-to-the-minute. Besides, it’s depressing when you’re jobless and counting your balance in pennies rather than dollars.
So, forget it. I’m no longer bothering with balancing the checkbook. The practice feels about as antiquated to me as using a typewriter or a rotary telephone. This made me think about other once-common practices – and things – that are no longer relevant in today’s society. Stuff like…
- Cursive writing. Other than signing your name on a check (which I’ve just explained I no longer do), is there any use for writing in cursive nowadays? On the rare occasion that I write anything by hand (birthday cards come to mind, and…well, that’s it), I use print. My handwriting already sucks. Add in cursive, and it’s worse. I agree that it looks more elegant, if done legibly – I can’t imagine the Declaration of Independence written in block lettering – but it’s sort of a lost art form. Not to mention pointless.
- Cameras with film. It’s hard to believe that once upon a time, when we took pictures not only were we unable to see the image immediately, but we had to send in the film for processing and developing, and pay for it! There was no such thing as instantly deleting a blurry photo on your camera, and you were limited to 24 (or 36, if you splurged) shots per roll of film. Depending on how often you used your camera, you might wait months between the time you snapped a pic and actually got to see it. Remember how revolutionary one-hour photo developing was? And how expensive?
- Video stores. Remember the ritual of heading to the video store on a Friday evening to pick out a movie or two on VHS? You had to get there early if you wanted a shot at the newest releases, which were always in frustratingly short supply. Otherwise, you’d be relegated to the older sections, and stuck with schlock like Police Academy 32. It’s hard to believe that such things as late fees existed, and “be kind, rewind” was a slogan we all knew and appreciated. How irritating was it to slip a tape into the VCR and find yourself midway through the latest Danny DeVito flick?
- Porn magazines. Thumbing through a well-worn copy of Playboy in order to catch a glimpse of boobies was a rite of passage for many a young male. Sadly, you had to either be a certain age to buy them, or know where your dad hid his secret stash. If you really wanted to get your jollies, you’d seek out Penthouse, which was considerably dirtier (and contained the awesome Forum section). (I mean, or so I’ve heard; oh, and hi, mom and dad!). The mere act of paying to see naked people who just stare back at you on a page and don’t, umm, do anything else harkens back to a more innocent era.
- Not knowing what everybody else was doing every second of the day. How strange it was to have no idea what your friends were doing at any given moment! How did we survive without knowing that Adam was enjoying his morning coffee, or Denise was watching So You Think You Can Dance (with 5,648 others), or Tom was Frosty, baby! at Wendy’s – with Matt and Laura? How many funny cat videos did we miss because we didn’t have a handy link to them? We were certainly living in the dark ages back then!
There are a million more. Manual car windows, stamps, watches, answering machines, boom boxes, encyclopedias…the list is endless. And that’s not counting things our parents or grandparents knew, like milkmen and girdles and slide projectors. On the one hand, it makes me sad that so many of these things are obsolete. Take, for instance, the once-ubiquitous phone booth. They were not only handy if you needed to make a call, but served other essential functions, as well. Lex Luthor would have taken over Metropolis long ago if Clark Kent hadn’t been able to duck into a phone booth and change into his Superman costume. And Bill and Ted? Not only would they have not had an Excellent Adventure, but they also would have flunked their history exam, as well. I miss phone booths!
On the other hand, viva technology! Progress is a good thing…right? (Except when it comes to books. Now that I’m publishing one, they’d better never go away. E-readers are fine and dandy, but nothing can replace the look and feel and smell of a real book).
What are some of the things you miss most from the “good ol’ days”?