Janet Sheridan: Things I miss
I watched in dismay as a fellow garage sale devotee purchased an item I spotted too late: a set of shiny aluminum tumblers like those that added cheer to my childhood. When filled with cold beverages, the tumblers frosted over like windshields on a sub-zero morning and made everything, even water, seem extra tasty. They were unbreakable; and, if my siblings and I forgot our manners and hurled them at one another, they bounced off without inflicting real damage. Best of all, the bright red, blue, green, and gold shine of the tumblers made me feel I was holding a bit of Christmas in my hand every day.
I miss hearing my brother Bob laugh as he watched the cartoons shown before the featured films in the 50s and 60s. He laughed riotously at the antics of Elmer Fudd, The Road Runner, and Wile E. Coyote; but when the cartoon starred the bumbling adventures of the shortsighted Mister Magoo, he couldn’t contain himself. He’d cackle, gasp, roll about, and elbow unlucky strangers seated next to him. At age 18.
I’m saddened that Joel and I no longer have grandbabies. With their jobs, sports, friends, and social activities, our grandchildren no longer qualify for the term. Being greeted with “Hi, did you have a good trip? Hey, Mom, can I go shopping with Heather now? OK, glad you’re here, Grandpa and Janet, bye,” doesn’t compare to the shrieks of joy that used to greet us as young bodies hurtled into our arms and argued over who could sit by us at dinner.
I wish I could visit my own grandparents, aunts, and uncles again: People who knew me as well as my family did, but treated me as though I were special. Their nickname for me was Janny, much nicer that those my siblings gave me: Big Stupid, Spoiled Smarty Pants, Scrag Hair, and, Lawrence’s favorite after he studied literature in high school, Miss Ne’er-Do-Well.
Grandma offered me chewy, homemade cookies and ice cream; Grandpa played tricks and gave me nickels. My aunts conversed with me as though I mattered; and my uncles made me laugh. My siblings, on the other hand, were bell-crawling slugs.
I miss my fingernails. Oh, I still have all ten, but they lack the splendor of their prime: strong, long, and capable of scratching, scraping, and digging without breaking. I woke up one day in my 60s to nails I didn’t recognize. Overnight they’d developed vertical ridges that split and splintered on a schedule of their own devising. My once attractive, useful nails resembled frayed corduroy. How elegant.
I wish today’s mainstream cars didn’t all look the same. In my 20s, I could distinguish a Chevy Camaro from a Ford Mustang from a Volkswagen Beetle from a Studebaker Lark from a Cadillac Coupe de Ville, and all models in between, with a quick glance. Maybe it’s my failing eyesight, but such easy discrimination seems impossible now. Modern cars have lost their unique personalities and increased the boredom of road trips.
I miss watching Elvis Presley perform on television when rock and roll was new, and parents didn’t approve. As my girlfriends and I watched Elvis perform on the Ed Sullivan show, we shrieked with excitement and felt cool — way cooler than we were in a small town where the exciting annual event was a Deer Hunters’ Ball.
However, when I think about things I miss, I realize I’ve lived a life filled with small pleasures. Perhaps that’s the coolest thing of all.
Sheridan’s book, “A Seasoned Life Lived in Small Towns,” is available in Craig at Downtown Books and Steamboat Springs at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore. She also blogs at http://www.auntbeulah.com on Tuesdays.
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