Throughout the year, my wife Ann pretty well keeps up with the celebrations of the moment, and there are a bunch of them. To that end, a few days ago when I rolled into our driveway. a St. Patrick’s Day flag was flying.
Not being Irish, my connection to that annual observation isn’t strong. I’m not a fan of beer — green or otherwise — and didn’t inherit my mother’s affinity for four-leaf clovers.
But I do have especially fond memories of St. Paddy from old school days. Back in the day, if you didn’t wear something green to school, you got pinched.
I was a good target because I’m colorblind, at least to the extent of being able to differentiate between greens, grays and browns. Not much has changed.
Paddy’s day was spent switching back and forth between being "pincher" and "pinch-ee." By current standards it was serial assault and batteries, regardless of how much fun folks were having.
Which brings me to the one other holiday during which we committed felonies as viewed through today’s prism of political correctness. "Flag Day" isn’t celebrated as it once was.
Way back in that day I’m always talking about, Flag Day was for searching out girls with whom to "celebrate." The ritual was to run up to one, fling up her dress and shout "Flag day!"
Back then, it was giggles — today sexual harassment. Oh, how things have changed.
I know stuff like this sounds ridiculously juvenile, but kids from my era were babes in the woods, light-years from modern kids. You can add silly and ignorant to the pile, but it was those very traits that allowed us to enjoy day-to-day life so much.
I’m smiling as I type. I rant about how wonderful it was to grow up when and how I did. But I’ve pondered about why those days were so special?
I surely wasn’t special by any measure. With no money and certainly no drugs, exactly why did we have so much fun? The key was ignorance in a "Paradise Lost" sort of way.
That this country bumpkin knew almost nothing about life allowed me to discover its sweet mysteries one at a time over many years. My "worldliness" developed very slowly. I got a lot of enjoyment out of each bite of life and am still chewing.
Today, kids gorge on the ways of the world through unrestricted Internet time and school bus rides. That’s sadly the way things are. I’m so lucky to have come up slow and dumb. Life is an absolute blast if you sip and savor.
So today how we celebrated a couple of holidays would’ve risen to the level of sexual harassments plus a multitude of assault and batteries. I can visualize my high school annual with our pictures having serial numbers at the bottoms along with arrest dates.
It gives me pause that games we played innocently then are now so poisonous. The country has changed. Danger, Will Robinson!
Otis Gardner’s column appears here weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.