Short Fiction: The Good Old Days

    There was a time, not so long ago, when men were men. There was a time when the elderly were respected, when milkmen were appreciated, and when children could ride their bikes down at the quarry on a Sunday afternoon without fear of perverts or peanut butter sandwiches. Those were the days.

    My word, if my grandfather were alive to see the state of things today, he would immediately go back to being dead just so he could roll over in his grave. Coconut body scrub? What in God’s green earth is that? Give me a plain, sturdy bar of soap any day. One with straight edges and a good pungency right out of the paper. Children cry at the slightest inconvenience these days. They’re so attached to televisions and mobile phones and video game devices that most of them have never felt the grass beneath their bare feet as they race with the cool afternoon wind in their face and snarling Doberman at their back. If God had not wanted us to ever have a tooth knocked out, then why did he give us so many?

    I learned to drive in a nineteen-year-old Holden with bald tyres and rust hole beneath the brake pedal big enough to drop a tennis ball through. Never had a car accident in my life. Bip-bip, bip-bip! That’s what cars sound like today. It’s an embarrassment. In my day, car horns were like thunder. An unexpected blast would cause the buttocks to clench in fear of the final judgment. Made a man grateful. And don’t get me started on these namby-pamby, new-fangled electric cars. My doctor said it is best if I don’t think about them.

    Imagine my shock and disgust recently upon receiving an invitation to my niece’s lesbian wedding. They have a thing now called a “registry”. The couple tells you what gifts to buy. I can tell you right now, they’ll be getting no two-hundred-dollar sheet set or Italian espresso machine from me. (Espresso is a type of coffee you drink in little cups.) I’ll give them what I give every newlywed couple: a nice card, twenty-five dollars cash, and the advice my aunty gave me on my wedding day. She said, “When you argue, stick to the issue. Don’t go picking on each other and bringing up old grievances.” It has worked for me and my wife.

    But times change. Young people have to find their own way in the world. And it is an amazing world. I just don’t recognise much of it anymore.


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