A Sentimental Observation: The Simple Things

I’m not sure who “they” are, but “they” sure do speak about the virtues of the simple pleasures in life.

Oh, how right “they” are!

Remember when you were a kid and the most wonderful part about helping Mom in the kitchen was getting to lick the spoon? The batter from a chocolate cake was so sweet and rich. Heaven on silverware.

Or how about getting to drink from the garden hose in the backyard on a hot summer day? I can still feel the wet grass stuck between my toes as the fountain of refreshingly cold water dripped down my chin, puddling at my feet…with more water going back into the ground (and up my nose) than in my mouth.

At school, the best day EVER was filmstrip day.

Yes, filmstrips.

I do understand that this may be a foreign concept to many of my readers, so allow me a moment to explain.

You see, my school was still making prolific use out of mimeograph machines when first I began wandering its hallowed halls, and our report cards were handwritten in ink, so the filmstrip was nothing short of the apex of technology.

To best describe it in a fancy, overly-wordy verbose kind of way, a filmstrip was a technological supplement that helped reinforce the learning experience through the use of narration and a series of still-frame pictures. (One small step above the “Fourth Cousin’s Vacation Slides That No One Wants To Watch,” but one giant leap for “Moving Picture-Kind.”) The narration told the projector operator exactly when to advance to each slide, usually with a “BEEP.” The projector operator then had to turn a knob on the side of the machine to advance the slide.

So…why was filmstrip day so monumental?

The teacher always picked someone to be the projector operator for the class. If you were good, you just might have a shot at assuming the all-powerful position of being in charge of the projector.

I had the chance to do it a few times. We had one machine with a rather tight knob, though, and the little grooves on the side wore a rather nice blister on my index finger once. Still, there was no greater thrill in elementary school than being the “chosen one” for the day…even if the filmstrip was only five minutes long.

It…was…POWER.

For a few years, anyway. Technology began to make some major progress as I grew up–not quite at the speed-of-light pace that it does now–but times began to change, and the power of being the “filmstrip-knob-turner-person” would soon fade into the sunset.

When some of the filmstrip projectors that advanced each frame on their own found more airtime in our classes, we knew our “power” days were numbered. When they got really, REALLY fancy and rolled out the VCR, well, the filmstrip found its demise…and one of the simple pleasures was lost.

And with this, filmstrips lost the war.
Once this guy came along, filmstrips lost the war.

What were you going to do with a VCR that really, truly kept you involved in the process of showing a movie? Rewind the tape? Pause it when someone made a funny face?

I have to wonder what the simple pleasures are among today’s very young kids. I’m just not sure that getting to press the “play” button on a YouTube video will hold quite the same level of nostalgia for someone twenty years from now as putting your face in the bottom of a bowl of brownie batter (which, by the way, I’ve heard you’re not supposed to do these days if the batter is made with raw eggs for fear of food-borne illnesses.) Getting picked to plug in the HDMI cable can’t be as exciting as drinking water from a garden hose (well, something that’s probably frowned upon as well these days, seeing as how there’s no telling what kind of contaminants could be lurking in fifty feet of tubing which has stood stagnant for a week while baking in the July sun).

However cynical I may be, I’m sure they’ll have something…some little piece of future sentimentality that they can describe lovingly to the next generation who just won’t “get it,” can’t understand it, and never will.

The simple pleasures–the tiny pieces we all carry–always find a way.