I Grew Up Why?
Some things are better left as dear childhood memories.
Here are items that were cherished but I ruined them. Shoulda left them alone...
Now & Later candy
I loved Now and Laters.
On the many trips to 7 11, my buddies would always get a Slurpee or a handful of Bazooka gum (maybe a Slim Jim or two if someone had a little extra cash). I would use the whole 35 cents in my pocket to buy seven Now and Laters.
I could not wait to carefully tear off the wax paper wrapping to get to it. Ok, it took two or three minutes - the wrapping was not the reason to buy the candy. It would always tear and stick to the candy and more often than not, I wound up eating a little piece of the paper because it simply would not let go.
It took another minute or two to soften up but then my fun began. I'd stomp and squish the square o' sugar between my back molars and then try to pry my jaw apart. I loved the pop in my head of the candy finally giving up and my top and bottom rows of teeth separating. Then I'd do it again and again and again until it was time to unwrap, peel and start all over again.
Recently I was in the dollar store (doing some clothes shopping) and sitting on a bottom dusty shelf in the candy aisle were packs upon packs of Now and Laters.
I swear I heard angels sing.
I quickly made my purchase, rushed to the car, and threw myself into the vehicle. Ripped open the package. Unwrapped the first square. Gleefully savored the same cheap wax paper and giggled as I peeled as many little strips as I could.
"The hell with it," I threw it in my salivating mouth and clamped down.
Hard. Tasteless. Like gnawing on a moist rock.
I spat it out, threw it in the nearest garbage can along with the rest of them and wept for a shattered memory.
And for the loss of the dollar I just spent on it. Plus tax.
Spiderman does indeed do whatever a spider can.
I ran home from the bus stop to catch this cartoon. Other kids would play soccer or go to the creek (actually the crick) or ride bikes after school. All that can wait. I had to get home.
Spiderman was waiting for me.
The door flies open. Backpack thrown on the foyer floor. Slide to the front of the console television (remember those?), turn the silver ON knob, crank the volume. Let the magic begin.
Those four smash opening notes (Baa, Baa, Baa, BAAAA) not only told me that Spidey was about to begin but that it was IN COLOR. In 1967, IN COLOR was a big deal.
I loved the color. Loved the music. Loved Peter Parker's voice that changed when he changed into Spidey. The "Pewwww" sound effect of the his web. The villians: Electro, Rhino, the Lizard, the Green Goblin. The opening credits. The end credits. Even the commercials in between.
I was no longer a skinny seven year old. I was Peter Parker. I was Spiderman.
Then, many years later, something strange happened. Someone invented YouTube. Someone else put on these classic episodes.
And another someone, on a whim, searched for them. And found them. And eagerly watched them, hoping to feel that same rush, if only for a moment.
That last someone was me.
I stared at my state-of-the-art monitor in disbelief. How could this be?
The animation is lousy. The voices and dialogue are silly. Ok the music is somewhat nostalgic and perhaps magical, but still...
Nothing was right.
I "X"ed out of it. I sat with my mouth hanging open like a garage door someone forgot to shut.
And a little part of me died. I felt it. Poor Spiderman. Poor Peter Parker. Poor me.
PS - For the record, these were re-runs when I was a kid. I'm old but I ain't that old.
This may not all be Kmart's fault. Times do change.
Back in the 80s, the Kmart near me had an arcade. I walked there with a couple of friends and spent hour after hour and quarter after quarter playing games. Dig Dug. Xevious. Zaxxon. Tempest. And so on.
But Kmart also had everything. And it was busy. To a young suburban boy, as sad as it may seem now, it was the place to waste an after-school afternoon or a Saturday morning. If we got bored with the arcade, we'd go to the sports stuff. All the fishing poles you could imagine. Pellet guns. Wrist slingshots. If we got bored with that, let's go look at the bikes. Bored with that? Ok let's go here. Or there. Or back to the arcade. Then up to the cafe for an Icee and a soft pretzel.
But on a recent trip home, I stopped in just to stop in.
The arcade was long gone. Walled up and gone. The placed appeared smaller. Shelves were either empty or disorganized. Carts were bunched up front in a sloppy cluster.
And it was quiet. Empty. Kind of sad. When there are more employees in the store than there are customers, that should tell you something's wrong.
It should have stayed a memory.
Wow was this hub depressing. Am I whining? Maybe. The point is maybe some things are better left alone. I'd like to remember the arcade fun at Kmart, the exciting action of Spidey, and the gooey goodness of a Now and Later.
But none of this compares to looking at my hair in the high school yearbook. Now that's depressing.