Flashback~Forget About it-Friday

The school year is coming to an end and I must confess to being relieved that my kids no longer share their classroom with a pet. This is the time of year that the teachers begin cornering parents about taking home Fluffy, the Dwarf rabbit, or Slimy, the Anaconda. It’s been exactly two years since I was last asked to play surrogate mom for the summer. Prior to that, I had emphatically said no when the request was made. But, two years ago, in a moment of weakness, after the full-court press from both my son and his teacher, I gave in–despite having great reservations. Yes, we took Faith, the hamster, into our home even though I was certain she’d die while in our care.

I have to Flashback to explain why I was sure Faith, would not see the inside of the science classroom again.

When I was in grade school I was just like my kids–desperate to bring the classroom pet(s) home over summer, or winter vacation. It didn’t really matter which break it was, I wanted that pet…in my house…under my care. I was around eight years old when I finally got my chance. The classroom pet? A pair of bearded dragons. Yay for me! Two pets! I was to take care of them over the winter break. All I had to do was feed them mealworms and keep their habitat clean. Easy-peasy, right? Yeah, easy-peasy. I didn’t enjoy the whole mealworm thing, but once I realized that holding my breath made contact with them easier, (makes every unpleasant task easier, right?), I nailed that part of the job. I did not miss one day of feeding the bearded dragons. Not one day. And I kept the cage clean. And the fresh water flowing. I did everything I was told to do. And yet, one morning, about a week into our vacation, one of the dragons stopped breathing! Think it was kind of shriveled too, but I won’t go into that–too painful. I also won’t describe how awful it felt to return to school with only one bearded dragon. I was a pet killer!! I clearly could not be trusted. I never volunteered to pet sit again. Not at school and not for friends. Lesson learned. Or so I thought.

Flash forward to 2008. I have agreed to bring the hamster home for the summer but not without asking the science teacher, Faith’s primary caretaker, some questions first. I started off slowly by inquiring about the little rodent’s overall health. Any genetic mutations I should be aware of? No, I was told. Any contact with ill guinea pigs in the past three weeks? Nope, not near any other animals. Mange? No, mange free. Final question, how old is Faith? The teacher, who was now sweating a bit from my interrogation, couldn’t really answer that question. You see, Faith was given to her by the family of one of her students. Her best guess, Faith was between two and three. Satisfied, but still not convinced, we brought Faith home.

Faith was gone three weeks later. Little jerk barely made it to July!! My son did everything correctly too. He fed her, cleaned her poop-filled habitrail (with his breath held of course) and played with her! He lovingly played with her every single day. Didn’t matter. One afternoon my husband (thank goodness it was my husband and not my son) was putting something in my son’s room when he noticed Faith was not moving… DEAD. And stiff as a board too! Was a really nice experience having to tell my son. I blamed it on the rat’s hamster’s age. Told him she must have been closer to three and was nearing the end of her long, happy life when we agreed to host her for the summer.

Moral of this story: don’t bring home the damn classroom pets!! They don’t like life outside of the school! They will die in your care! You and your kids will be devastated! Got it?

So, how many class pets have you killed?


Flashback~Forget About it-Friday

A while back I wrote this post about the first cars I owned. Thankfully, a Ford Pinto was not on the list. Not sure what got me thinking about the Pinto (my mind is a dangerous place) but think about it I did, and I quickly came to the conclusion that the Pinto would make a perfect Forget About it. The detail that stands out in my mind is that Pintos exploded when hit from behind and that Ford apparently thought that was okay (see quote below). And now, forty years after the first Pinto was driven off a new car lot there is another reason to associate it with doom and gloom. Check out the exact date Pintos originally went on sale in U.S…

Am I the only one who wanted to scream at the pony to stay away from the back of the car? Run, little Pinto pony, run as fast as you can–your name is about to be smeared for perpetuity.

Here’s how Time.com describes the 1971 Ford Pinto:

“They shoot horses, don’t they? Well, this is fish in a barrel. Of course the Pinto goes on the Worst list, but not because it was a particularly bad car — not particularly — but because it had a rather volatile nature. The car tended to erupt in flame in rear-end collisions. The Pinto is at the end of one of autodom’s most notorious paper trails, the Ford Pinto memo, which ruthlessly calculates the cost of reinforcing the rear end ($121 million) versus the potential payout to victims ($50 million). Conclusion? Let ’em burn.”

Click here to read Forbes.com list of Worst Cars of All Time–yes, the Pinto is on it.

I wonder which cars will make the list going forward? Any ideas?

Flashback~Forget About it-Friday

I recently read this article about Formspring.me, a website teens are using to grill each other anonymously. I was immediately reminded of Slam Books, a similar, but less tech savvy, mode of torture that my friends and I employed in the late 1970s.

Flashback~Forget About it- Slumber Party Activities.

Slam Book (photo source)

The Slam book was usually created at a weekend slumber party, but was circulated during school hours. A question would be posted at the top of the page of a spiral notebook–something like: What’s Your Favorite Food? And then people would write their answers anonymously (though not really, because handwriting at this age was easy to recognize) below. Now, if the question was particularly harsh–Do you think Jennifer is ugly? The people who wanted to answer: “Yes, she’s a hag” would try to disguise their handwriting by writing with their wrong hand. Needless to say, the Slam Book led to fights. Lots of them. And they were usually ugly and almost always involved girls.

Ouija Board

I have to be honest, the Ouija Board freaked me out. I can’t recall if that’s because one was featured in a movie I saw, or in a book I read, but something that I was exposed to at a young age convinced me that messing with the Ouija Board equalled instant death. I was sure that a message of doom and gloom would be spelled out by the spirits (this is what the board was used for, communicating with spirits) and that I would be the one to expire on the spot. So, at slumber parties where the Ouija Board was used, I stayed in the background. Or I feigned sleep.

Rotary Phone

Please tell me you remember the rotary phone? This little number was a must-have item at all of the sleepovers I attended. Back then, everyone had one. A phone was a necessity, because my friends and I loved to make prank and/or annoying calls. Usually to boys we had crushes on. We’d call the boy pretending we weren’t in a large group of girls (they always knew the truth because the slumber party would have been discussed ad nauseum at school) and ask them who they liked. Or we’d call them, disguise our voices and say ridiculous things. Other times, we would dial random numbers and say really stupid stuff–not quite as bad as, “Is your refridgerator running”–but close. The majority of the time, however, we’d crack ourselves up by coming up with outrageous things to say–and then never make the call.

Cinnamon Buns–yum. (photo source)

Food was always a big part of the slumber party allure. At least it was for me. I remember once, when I was a sleepover novice, wanting to go home because I was missing my parents. The hostess didn’t want me to leave and was trying everything to get me to stay. Nothing she did worked (and I even remember being on the phone with my mom asking her to come get me) until my host brought out a tube of Pillsbury Cinnamon Buns. We were going to have those for breakfast. On second thought, I guess I can stay…

What do your remember most about the sleepovers you attended as a child?

Flashback~Forget About it-Friday

It is rare that I am able to both Flashback and Forget About it on the same topic. Even rarer that said topic would involve a slightly edited version of a cartoon. The fact that I made reference to Jeffrey Dahmer in my post on Tuesday, probably played no role in my choosing this…

Flashback~Forget About itMy favorite episode of Ren & Stimpy–the condensed version.

I didn’t love every episode of Ren & Stimpy. Not even close. But the Rubber Nipple Salesmen had me both rolling on the floor with laughter–and cringing. Since the cartoon took me to both ends of the spectrum, I am going to deem it worthy of both remembering and forgetting. This episode originally aired in 1992. All these years later, my husband and I still find opportunity to utter, “Call the police.” That’s staying power.

Can you think of a movie, TV series, cartoon, etc., that made you laugh but also made you feel slightly (or very) uncomfortable? Pulp Fiction, for example, had me both laughing hysterically and covering my eyes in horror.

Flashback~Forget About it-Friday

I love to read. Unfortunately, because my time is limited, I now consider reading a luxury. When I was a child it was a favorite pastime. Yes, I ate poorly and watched a lot of TV, but I read quite a bit too. Today, I thought I’d share some of the books I loved.

Flashback-Favorite books from childhood.

One Fish, Two Fish by Dr. Seuss

This was the first book I read aloud. I don’t remember a lot from the age of five, but I do have a clear vision of myself sitting on the floor reading the words, “This one has a little star…” Pretty sure I purchased this book for my daughter when she was still in utero.

Are you there God, it’s me Margaret? by Judy Blume

I read all the Judy Blume books when I was a pre-teen–devoured them really. I even read Forever when I wasn’t supposed to. Shhh…don’t tell. Much to my disappointment, my daughter had absolutely no interest in reading any of the classic Judy Blume books. I am still bummed about that. Note to all of you who have young kids, don’t let them know how much you enjoyed something as a child, that’s the kiss of death. Unless, it involves junk food, they’re all about sharing that experience.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Pretty sure this was the first book I could not put down. Something about the story of a girl growing up in a Brooklyn tenement in the 1920’s resonated with me. I related to Francie though our experiences could not have been more different. I guess that’s the sign of a good novel. I was so moved by A Tree Grows in Brooklyn that I bought it again as an adult, I wanted to re-read it. I also bought it so my daughter could read it–can you guess how that turned out?

The Dark Eyed Queen by Lozania Prole

The Dark Eyed Queen was published in 1976, couldn’t find a photo of the book’s cover, so I had to go with a photo of the subject–Queen Anne Boleyn. I am not sure how old I was when I read it, but it affected me to the point that my minor in college was English history–as in the history of England. I loved learning about Anne Boleyn, she was you know–wooed and wayed and then betrayed. That’s good stuff when you are a kid.

I just finished The Help by Kathryn Stockett. If you are one of the three people left on the planet who has not read this unbelievably wonderful novel, I suggest you go get it now. Would probably make a great Mother’s Day gift–that, and time alone to read.

Do you remember which book was the first you read by yourself? Are there any books you absolutely loved when you were growing up? I am sure there were, you guys are readers, I can tell…

Forget About it returns next week.

Flashback~Forget About it-Friday

As noted in the post I wrote about MTV’s reality show, Jersey Shore, I watched a lot of TV growing up. In the future, I will definitely document some of my favorite shows in this space. But today, I thought I’d focus on the commercials.

Flashback-Commercials I loved.

Shake and Bake. You’d think that given the fact I grew up in the South, the accents in this commercial would barely register with me. Nope! My peers and I would repeat the phrase, “And we helped” (with exaggerated Southern accent) at the drop of the hat.

Dr. Pepper. I had a huge crush on David Naughton when I was younger. Remember his song Makin’ It? His role as David in An American Werewolf in London? I thought he was cute. And this is where it all started…

Hawaiin Punch. Violence on television! How did the censors ever let this pass? You have to admit this is so much better than the giant pitcher of Kool-Aid crashing through walls.

And now a few that fit into the Forget About it category.

Life Cereal. I am a younger sibling, so I feel a sense of solidarity here. What these two did to Mikey was not nice. Sure, make the little guy your food taster. Poison him, who cares, he hasn’t been a part of the family for that long, he won’t be missed. Bullies! Thankfully, Mikey got the last laugh. Fisher Price toy promo at the end is a nice touch–no?

Wendy’s. Okay, okay, I get it. A little old lady repeatedly shouting, “Where’s the Beef” is cutting edge advertising. I just didn’t find it funny. Memorable, yes. Annoying, definitely.

And finally, Winston Cigarettes. Full disclosure, I have no memory of this commercial. Just thought I’d post it because I found it appalling, though mildly amusing because of how appalling it is. Check out Fred and Barney’s sexist comment in the opening seconds. They really were cavemen!

Your turn. Which commercials from your youth have been permanently seared into your brain?

Flashback~*Forget About it-Friday

My son is obsessed with his Xbox 360. Obsessed. So far this obsession has not had a negative effect on his grades, the first sign of decline and the plug will be pulled. When I was a kid, Atari was king. My son doesn’t know what he missed.

Flashback-Favorite electronic games from childhood.

I have to start with Atari, though technically this was my older brother’s system. Pretty sure he only had one or two Atari games and that we only played one of them–Breakout–religiously.

Funny, I don’t remember Breakout being in color, that could be because we only owned black and white television sets at the time.

For those of you too young to remember, here’s a quick Breakout primer, courtesy of Wikipedia:

In the game, a layer of bricks lines the top third of the screen. A ball travels across the screen, bouncing off the top and side walls of the screen. When a brick is hit, the ball bounces away and the brick is destroyed. The player loses a turn when the ball touches the bottom of the screen. To prevent this from happening, the player has a movable paddle to bounce the ball upward, keeping it in play.

I also really enjoyed the handheld electronic game, Merlin. Merlin, which looked a lot like the first incarnation of the cell phone, consisted of six games. Everything from (my personal favorite) tic-tac-toe to blackjack. I vaguely remember an accident involving my Merlin that left it broken after only a month or two of use, but for a brief period, Merlin was my main man.

This commercial from 1978 will fill you in on Merlin’s amazing abilities.

My favorite of all the electronic games was Simon. To succeed at Simon all you had to do was prove that you could listen and remember stuff. Unfortunately for me, after the first round you had to it–quickly. Pretty sure I only beat the game once. No matter, I kept trying and I am sure my parents appreciated my perseverance. Nothing like the repeated sound of a bleating sheep to keep everyone in the house (or car) happy.

Did you have a favorite electronic toy growing up?

*Sorry no Forget About it this week. Today we only Flashback. Soon I will be heading out-of-town for spring break. More than likely posts from me will be sparse or non-existent until the week of 4/12. Cheerio! Ciao! Au revoir!

Flashback~Forget About it-Friday

Spring break is a week away. My kids are hanging on by a thread. Both of them have said they feel burned out. They are ready to get out of town. Not going to say where we are going because I may post while away and I like the element of surprise.

When I was a kid we rarely traveled. You’d think given that fact I’d remember all of the vacations we did take. You’d be wrong, I remember only a few. One trip, however, was so special it warranted both the Flashback and Forget About it designation.

Flashback because there is no way I can Forget About it-Most memorable childhood vacation.

Storybook Forest at Idlewild Park, Ligonier, Pennsylvania.
Ahh..I still vividly recall many parts of this trip. That is saying a lot because I can barely remember last week. The fact that I remember details of a vacation that took place over 35 years ago, must mean it was pretty good. Or it means I saw things that no one in their right mind could ever forget. You be the judge.

No really, this place was fun!

Here are some of the highlights:

The Characters:
The little old lady who lived in the shoe. She was nice…I think. Her kids didn’t look very happy though.

Just your average single mom doing all she can to raise her kids. Why is one of them on the roof? And what are those two doing behind the shoe?

The Crooked Man’s house. Never actually saw him, just evidence of him–everywhere. Now that I think about it, a Crooked Man is kind of wrong.

Crooked Man’s house. He would be a registered offender now, right?

Jack and Jill. Yep, those two. Unfortunately, we found the remains of them, you know at the bottom of the hill.

Jack and Jill, I think I might have heard one of them whisper, “Call DFACS please…”

The Activities:

A giant slide! We went down a giant slide! We sat on old gunny sacks to get down that slide. Unfortunately, my dad broke his pinky on the slide. He thought my sack was going out of control so he reached out to slow me down and *snap* broken pinky. Pretty sure that didn’t ruin the trip or the experience though.

There was also a house of mirrors. The kind of mirrors that when you stand in front of them they distort your size and shape. When you are young, that kind of thing is great. Unless of course you are afraid that the Crooked Man might appear at any moment behind you…

Writer’s embellishment: not sure where this is. I needed a picture though.

And the last stop, a perfectly innocent petting zoo where I squeezed the hell out of a baby goat and was spat on by a llama.

What was the most memorable family vacation you took as a child? Were did you go? What made it great memorable?

Flashback~Forget About it-Friday

Do you remember the new wave group the Romantics? You know the one that sang the songs “What I Like About You” and “Talking in Your Sleep”? I saw them in concert when I was in high school. Not only did I see them in concert, but my friend Susan and I had personalized tee shirts made up with “The Romantics” written on the front and our names on the back. I bring the Romantics’ concert up because the fact that I actually saw them almost made me reconsider whether or not I would make this category a Forget About it instead of a Flashback. Thankfully, they weren’t my first concert, so here we go:

Flashback-First concert.

To be literal, the very first concert I attended was Santana some time in the early 1970’s, but I have absolutely no memory of that (I think my parents didn’t want to pay for a babysitter) so I can’t really count it.

The first concert I remember and will proudly claim as my first was Rick James at Kings Dominion Park. This was 1981 or 1982. To this day, I cannot believe my mom allowed me to go to this show. This was back when Rick James was still Rick James. He was nasty before Prince knew what nasty was. I was 14. Too young for nasty. I remember he had the Mary Jane Girls opening for him. My friend (once again Susan) and I had no idea what Mary Jane stood for. I think we might have been the only people there who didn’t. I still remember how much fun it was singing along to all of his songs–even if I had no clue (which I didn’t) what they were about. Street Songs had just been released and “Super Freak” was a big hit. Good times!

Check out Rick’s over-the-knee boots! Such a trendsetter! RIP.

My brother and I were latchkey kids. This meant we often would fend for ourselves when it came to after school snacks and dinner.

Forget About it-Foods I ate.

My top three:

Steak umms. This photo is of the 2010 version. So glad they are still available. Hate to think that the next generation would miss out on eating cardboard that is thinly disguised as meat. Worked for me at the time though! A little oil, a pan and voilà– dinner!

Thankfully the Slim Jim is also still available. Hard to find something as satisfying as dehydrated meat in stick form. And they packed a whopping 9 grams of protein per stick! Now that I think of it, Slim Jim may have been the prototype for today’s very popular protein bars.

And finally, every diet has to have a staple. Something that is good to eat day or night; frozen or at room temperature. For me that was the Hostess Suzy Q. Here’s how the Hostess website describes the Suzy Q.:
“For more than 40 years, sophisticated snack cake connoisseurs have been licking their fingers while mouths full of crème filled Suzy Qs delight their taste buds.”
Oh yeah they do!

Okay your turn. What was the first concert you attended? How about foods you regularly ate as a child?