Fast Forward  

Posted by Alex Pendragon

I've been contemplating lately on whether, given the choice, I would trade my age and wisdom, such that it is, for the chance to be young again, with it's attendant ignorance and lessons needed to be learned.

I don't think so.

You see, it's amazing some of the intangible benefits derived from hanging around for awhile and catching on to a few things. And most importantly I have discovered that there are a multitude of things that used to be important to me in my youth that now have been degraded to "what WAS I thinking" status.

Fast cars. Yea, if ever there was one thing I, like any hot-blooded fighter ace my age lusted after in our teen years, it was a muscle car. There were quite a few beauties to choose from, from the fast-just-sitting-there 1969 Mustang Mach I, to the in-your-face, muscular Dodge Challenger, and all flavors of gas-guzzling, Hurst-four-speed shifting, "Yea, it has a HEMI!" between. We all HAD to have something to burn rubber with in front of women in the hopes it would get one in the back seat.

Fast forward.

The closest I ever came to a fast car was a '67 Chevy Nova with a six banger and a raised rear end. It didn't go THAT fast but it sure looked like it could. Today, I watch these people driving monstrous Hummers and Expeditions, no cargo or passengers, never leaving the pavement, burning fossil fuels like there's no tomorrow and heating up the atmosphere for future generations to enjoy. I admire the retro-sleek Ford Mustangs with their 400 horse power V-eights and know I could never justify owning one, even though I could if I really wanted. Instead, I lust after a hybrid Prius or just about ANY car that hauls as much as possible for as FAR as possible on as LITTLE fuel as possible.

A three-bedroom ranch in the Beaver-Cleaver suburbs. A bright green, perfect lawn with perfectly trimmed hedges, rose bushes, a swing set in the expansive back yard, a dog, and two point three children. In the high-tech kitchen a perfectly quaffed wife would be preparing my thick porterhouse steaks dressed in her paper miniskirt, her Doris Day beehive, and eyelashes thick enough to down an F-15 with one bat of her eyes. Of course, that would be accompanied by a martini and the promise of incredible sex.

Fast forward.

An acre of sand, no lawn, no shrubs, no roses, and no, I personally did not spawn those two point three offspring. In retrospect I am proud to have spared two souls the future I would have been leaving them. The ranch is instead a "manufactured home" which probably has more square footage but is just a tad flimsier in construction. The kitchen is not much of an improvement over the kitchen of the fifties except perhaps for that wonderful invention that cooks most of our food now under three minutes. There's a dishwasher, also, which half the time requires you clean the dish again anyway, but helps. The counters still have to be scrubbed, the sink cleaned, the floor mopped, the coffee grounds emptied, etc, etc, etc. And I do most of the cooking, and I don't wear a paper mini-skirt. And the sex? Well.........

A high-powered job on Wall street, or in the Insurance industry, or as a Pharmaceutical sales Rep............or maybe a fighter pilot, or a marine biologist, or...........the possibilities were endless.

No they weren't.

Pretty much every off-the-wall occupation I found myself involved in had precious little to do with anything I had ever aspired to. The jobs I have held down throughout these many years have all been the products of time, location, location, location. Some of these jobs sucked and I am truly glad they didn't last that long. A few I would have loved to have retired from, gold watch and all. Some payed pretty damn good, considering. Others......well......President Lincoln tried, really he did.
Right now I perform a job that I have to convince myself is a necessary evil that really does have a positive impact on the lives of the people I perform it for. Perhaps a little more per hour would REALLY convince me of the value of my contribution. It is what it is and it could be worse.

So, is there ANYthing I miss from my misinformed youth that I have lost somewhere on my travels to THE Now? Yes, there are things I remember I do indeed dearly miss, like the heady, no alcohol necessary high a young man with a crush on a girl endures. I miss the mystery of love, not the well-rehersed, been-there-done-that mechanics I have now. I miss the amazement of looking down into crystal clear water at marine life that is in no danger of extinction thanks to my hunger. I miss the phosphorescent light show the plankton performed for me while my submarine transited the the straits at night somewhere in the Caribean. I missed those days alone in the woods discovering things totally on my own because there was nothing better to do for a whole summer. And I miss that little girl whose name I can't remember who played doctor with me (only I was the patient) behind the shed when she and her mother came to visit for half a day. I miss my newly discovered ability to spin a poem that could melt a maiden's heart, until she tired of it and giggled while sharing it with her girlfriends, to my great dismay. THESE things I miss.

The world I live in today is NOT the world I envisioned those thirty-odd years ago when the future looked bright and I knew I was going to have to find me a really cool pair of shades. Instead, it is anything BUT bright, but it is warmer, and scarier, and indeed the very "end times" the religious loonies are running around screaming about but for entirely different reasons. Jesus ISN'T pissed, he's NOT coming back, and he's dead. He's fucking DEAD, people! WE, the human race, are making the end of this world a self-fulfilling prophecy, due to our stupidity, our arrogance, our aggression, our greed, and our refusal to keep our own nest clean.

Would I trade what I know for my youthful ignorance?

No, not for one second. I'm looking MY executioner straight in his eyes. I'm looking at YOU, mankind.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at Tuesday, February 19, 2008 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

5 slick comments


I would love to go back and do it all again - with or without my current knowledge. I'd do my best to make all the same mistakes - except maybe my 2d wife. I think I would pass on that.

Cars - '68 Olds Tornado. Yes indeed.

February 19, 2008 at 11:15 PM

Parts of me would like to do it again -- assuming I could keep what I've learned and not make the same mistakes. Parts of me are glad it's over. Basically, I like being older.

February 20, 2008 at 10:25 AM

Perhaps it's a good thing we have no choice in the matter, huh?

February 20, 2008 at 10:38 AM

I would go back only if I could keep what I know now. Otherwise, what would be the point? But it doesn't truoble me that I don't have the life I imagined as a kid - those were kid dreams. I have a life that is far more interesting than I'd have imagined. But I'm still a little bummed about not getting the flying car.

February 21, 2008 at 8:58 AM

I have so much guilt that I would go back and do it all over in a heartbeat with my present repetoire of data...
or would I save it for a Faustian deal to live forever..Hmmm

Nope. I watched Highlander and I wouldn't want to be tortured by watching everyone that I loved grow old and die in my arms.

February 27, 2008 at 12:34 PM

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