As I drove my youngest to work Saturday morning, we played a round of our favourite family game. It's called "When I Was A Girl."
When I say "our very favourite family game" I really mean "one of my very favourite games." The girls call it, in rapid texts to each other, "OMG! How old is she?" or "She says milk was 25 cent a quart LOL! What's a quart? What's a cent? #woah!"
I was explaining how, in the olden days, families only had one phone and it was usually attached to the kitchen wall, allowing everyone in the family to listen to your conversation and your father to demand you hang up when he thought you were done. She barely looked up from her iPhone. I am clearly senile, her expression read, and I will soon claim children once rode bicycles to their part-time jobs.
My reason for this round of the game, other than she was trapped inside a moving car and couldn't escape my reminiscing, was a recent Free Press article about the Winnipeg woman who was once a Bay elevator operator. I remember elevator operators, I told my captive child.
And department store floorwalkers. And hat departments. And candy counters in downtown stores, especially the one at the Bay, where I'd stop on my way home from university to get 50 cents worth of fresh licorice allsorts and the woman behind the counter was nice about it.
Her eyes glazed but her fingers didn't slow. "OMG! I have to get a bike! She'll be talking about walking uphill in both directions soon!!! #woah!"
My husband, who is even older than I, keeps a running list of the vanished. "Slide rules," he'll say. "When was the last time you saw a slide rule?," he'll muse. Never, I'll think. I was an English major. OMG!
I will concede analog clocks and watches have essentially vanished while I wasn't paying attention. My grandchildren will not sit in front of clocks made out of paper, the hands slowly moved by an increasingly desperate parent. "And what time is it when the BIG hand is on 6 and the LITTLE hand is on 10?" My grandkids won't wear watches. Their parents don't now.
I don't even want to think about my daughters being deprived of the joy of teaching a toddler the mad intricacies of shoelace tying. "You take the bunny ear in your left hand ... no, your other left hand, honey."
Shoes with laces. Cassette tapes. VCRs. Face-to-face conversation with friends. Cokes in glass bottles bought for a dime from a giant machine at the corner store. Candy cigarettes. Pay phones. Milk bottles. Metal ice cube trays. Coffee pots that you set on the stove to boil.
Melmac. Napkin rings. Writing thank-you notes. An ordinary cup of coffee instead of a coffee menu. Michael Jackson's original face. Lindsey Lohan as a freckle-faced teenager. The Flying Nun. People getting dressed up to fly. Being allowed to keep your shoes on during security and not having a stranger run her hand around the waistband of your pants before you're cleared to fly.
People standing up for the elderly on a bus. Holding doors open for the person behind you. Thanking someone who does. Going out for dinner on a special occasion and not just because you're too lazy to cook. TV trays. The Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday nights. My childhood, complete with the eternal sunshine, smells of bread baking and frolicking unicorns I'm sure I remember.
Why, when I was a girl ....
I tell my youngest that her kids will think it was hilarious she had to keep her palm-sized phone in her purse, that she actually went to classes in a real university building and that one day, mark my words, she'll explain that Grandma used to cook dinner from scratch.
"OMG," reads the thought balloon over her head," "Is there #noescape?"