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Death of the Playground 

 Kids of the 70’s would wreak ass-kickery over these weepy whiners we have as kids today. Not all mind you, but the vast majorities are in serious need of a backbone.  The kids I grew up with knew pain, stitches, and scabs—Hell, we invented vert (called a ramp back then), and survivor began as another of our brainstorms, “The Backyard Campout”.

These were the tools used during the summer that kept us in shape all year round.

 

In the 60’s and 70’s if you couldn’t ride it (without helmets and pads), climb it, tackle it, swim in it, build it, shoot it—It plain wasn’t worth doing. 

Today’s kids are more upset because they’re not accepted in the newest, coolest online Goth chat.  Kid’s in that era did without and survived a decade where gas was rationed, no vacations, a lot of Salisbury steak, meatloaf, gravy, bread, and we were never fat…ever. If you were fat then, you got made fun of. Today there’s just too many to do that. 

In the 70’s we played outside all day—not a few hours—I’m talking all day long and had to be threatened by parents to finally get back in the house—sometime well after dark and had to be examined for ticks before bath and bed.  

Today, kids leave the house to get a burger, then leave again to hit the mall. 

In the 70’s we made our own weapons and built forts. Today they open chat rooms and hate everything. Whatever happened to part time jobs?  Back then you knew times were hard, so you didn’t ask for extra’s and learned to get by without complaining about it.  We never avoided rain; we played in it, and snow days were made for fun, not to be locked away inside. Summer vacations were three months of every day adventures, chores, chiggers and ticks.

Our generation went astray when the playgrounds eroded into a yuppie wasteland of saw dust filled fairy tales. Playgrounds were a rite of passage then, a survival of the fittest for future generations. Not today and here’s where the crevice lies—they’re all gone.

 

What happened to our alpha-male making playgrounds?

 

Teeter-Totter 

We had a device known as the Teeter-Totter, which saw daily drop and launch episodes resulting in plaster of Paris covered limbs. This came from a time when kids were revered by how many scrawled names they could acquire on their cast. Often referred to as the fat-kid’s revenge—Husky to our politically correct readers—and I have seen it many times used as a means to launch the class midget into space.  

Monkey Bars  

So what if cracked heads and a few thousand stitches resulted from this gem, was that any reason to banish this classic piece? Monkey bars were the learning curve of the urban playground scene. You learned crying made you a sissy, scabs made you tough, and gravity’s a bitch if you were to fat to hang on.

Slides   

Slides today don’t measure up like they used to. Slides must be a minimum height of twenty feet, solid metal with steps respective to the overall elevation of the model, and then sunk 3-feet into a bubbling, gum and cigarette butt stained asphalt surface. Ladies will remember this mid-July, shimmering hot, short pants horror of summertime melted skin. The sound of screeching flesh still haunts my ears, and you best hit the ground running with both feet once the 90-degree angle spat you out. Asphalt is the most unforgiving flesh disfigurer invented by man. 

Lawn Darts  

How about this classic piece? Take sharpened dart, attach aero-dynamic wings, walk backwards 20-feet, and then toss in the direction of your asshole cousin Billy’s feet. I think there were a few other parts—something about a plastic set of rings—anyway it ended up in an asswhipping and another scar. Not to mention a whole assortment of punishments handed down by Nazi parents to include yard work, splitting wood, cleaning garages, taking out garbage, etc.

Bikes, Ramps,
and Skateboards 

Bikes, ramps, skateboards, even stunts deemed to dangerous. We did that shit barefooted with no shin guards, elbow pads, knee pads, or helmet. We did our stunts flat out and stayed scabby for it throughout the summer months. The first week of the new school year was a rehash of scars, broken bones, and feats of physical dexterity unmatched in today’s times.

 

Umbrellas and Rooftops  

I don’t think at this point we need to investigate this wonderful deployment of sheer genius. I do recall a gangly kid who once attempted this pre-youtube feat of idiocy. He ended up with one leg and foot normal size, while the other looked something compared to a baby’s pudgy arm with tiny midget-like toes sticking out. He finally had to buy a “special” shoe with a mounted contraption resembling a Goodyear tire glued to the bottom of the midget-leg side. He still managed to run a 4.4 second 40-yard dash, and all state halfback his sophomore year.

Merry Go-Rounds  

The greatest gravity death disc known to earth, and for the children reading this, we learned about science and the effects of centrifugal force the old fashioned way. Place the smaller bullied children in the center, and then spin the “Satan Sphere” until said kids fly off into the air’s gaping jaws of gravity.

Wham-O  

Wham-O toys and other skull busting spawn of debauchery. “Wham-O” was the end result of trying out these handy backyard gimp-gadgets (along with six stitches and missing teeth). Everyone knew at least one kid with a chipped-in-half front tooth from a Wham-O Frisbee toss.  

 

Sleds 

The wonderful joys of winter time and being in a full body cast during Christmas because you uttered the final words, “You think that’s something, well, watch this shit!”

Thus, with those words out, the end result was pain, followed by the astonished gasps, “Someone help me up, find my leg, and PLEASE don’t tell Mom!”

 

Every Ski Resort across this vast land of ours was first utilized by the sled runs we carved.

 

How the hell do you think the Olympics came up with Bobsledding? How do you think the Winter X-Games came to be? Just remember the next time you watch “Jackass” on MTV, we did it first. We had no video cameras then—but rest assured—Johnny Knoxville wasn’t the first kid riding down a hill in a run away grocery cart.

 

To the kid’s of that generation, anything with “queer” in it meant you didn’t have enough people for a football game, so you played “smear the queer”.  Today it means letting four guys punk me on television for free furniture and colorful clothes.

Thanks but I’m going to pass, I may walk a little slower but I still get there—eventually.

   

Uncle Buck

 

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Prostate Exams 

There’s nothing like a yearly prostrate exam to get the anxiety levels peaked. It’s reassuring to my wife knowing the doctor found no evidence my head remains lodged there. I have come to understand how a Muppet feels and cannot fathom how the doctor can talk through this procedure. Somehow, I have the feeling in Uganda it would qualify as a legal marriage by going where no man has boldly gone before. This yearly evil is like choosing between a root canal, or diving into a tank filled with Jellyfish—it’s a tough call.

 

Once in the position with nothing left but imagination, you have to wonder what the Doctor is thinking, then again, maybe not. I think it’s perfectly acceptable to dread these semi-compassionate examinations with humility, or lack thereof (depending on the giving end, or receiving end).

 

Who set the standard by which all doctors whose fingers hold the circumference of Pluto enter the Proctologists course?

 

Finishing this examination removes all doubt where lawyers originate, and it leaves you feeling dirty while not wanting conversation with the person who performed this action.

 

I have heard this before, though it slips me now just where.

 

Consider this article as advice for the younger men yet to face the angst of a knee-bend, tuck and spread’um situation. Think of the experience like a parking meter with fiber control—while notable effort goes in, nothing comes out. And don’t think of looking cool when Chewbacca squirts a dollop of Crisco on his latex covered digits—it ain’t happening.

 

 Conversation should contain the subject of sports only, not that you care; batting averages don’t matter at this point

 

 Never use the word Mmm while Dr. Feelgood is searching for the man-gland—Ouch is acceptable.

 

 If you’re lucky enough to receive a two finger probe-a-thon, consider it a second opinion that won’t cost a penny extra. When paper with the texture of a pine cone is thrust into your clenched and deformed hand, you’ll know the end is near.  Once you start exiting the office do not stop to talk, or make eye contact with anyone until you reach your vehicle.

 

In all seriousness, prostate cancer is the second leading killer among men. A simple check-up could save your life, or the life of a loved one. Adding a little humor may make it easier to face, and caught early, the treatment is widely successful. Talk with your doctor about prostate screening and a PSA blood test. A little reading and research could go a long way.

 

When it’s all said and done, take it like a man.

  

Uncle Buck

Dr. Phil or Fabio 

  What is the fascination with Dr. Phil these days (essentially the educated version of Jerry Springer)? Why are we so mesmerized with this guy, and do you buy into it?  

  If I want advice on relationships and how to talk or act around those of the opposite sex—I’ll shop around for someone of experience. I know this may upset men, and a few women, but these are the facts as I see them. 

  Fabio is in that still youthful without surgery group, and he maintains a low profile. When was the last time you heard Fabio getting into someone’s business, or hogging the gossip headlines about whom he is dating? It doesn’t happen and he is consistently one of, if not, the sexiest men alive. He loves big dogs and riding dirt bikes in his free time, and I’m sorry, but that’s not all bad in my book. 

  This gent grants hours of his free time for charitable causes without charging a penny, and never dominates the news headlines. The guy has great taste in clothes, and I do not have to go into great detail with the women, about his body. Here is a gentleman who’s aged to perfection and still remains dedicated to a rigorous physical routine. It’s not to impress the opposite sex, it’s something he’s devoted to and he sticks with it. Now take a good look at Dr. Phil’s shape (another point for Fabio). The bottom line; if you’re going to offer advice on diet and exercise by writing a book—try to look the role. 

  If Dr. Phil offered you advice on sex, could you hold a straight face? If you had to think about this for a second, you and I both know you wouldn’t. 

  I ask the ladies to reach deep down into your soul and answer this question with complete honesty. Would you rather have Dr. Phil or Fabio give your husband, love of your life, advice on bedroom fun? 

  If you remove these few phrases from Dr. Phil’s show, you’re left with nothing. 

  • Avoiding reality.
  • Logical thing to do.
  • What’s the problem?
  • Get over it!
  • Are you nuts?
  • A whole new you.

 Once completed, you have a reality and there’s no avoiding it. When they’re stripped down you’re left with one in boxers wearing black socks, and the other in a loincloth, chiseled, bronze, and sweaty. It forces the mind to create a fresh angle on the ‘whole new you’ outlook, and it leaves you with the perfect choice.  I think we need a Fabio show. 

Uncle Buck

The Switch Dance   

  On my last trip to that human hell hole [Wal-Mart], and after having had the pleasure of hearing—“You’re going to time out when we get home mister” or “I’m going to count to three…one…two…” I startled the wife by wondering aloud.   

  Whatever happened to switches?   

   I recall a time when these handy backyard disciplinarians froze young folks in their tracks. The mere mention of this word turned demons into angels without threats, Ritalin, or losing X-box privileges.   

  A switch to parents not only symbolized the crowning moment in ass-kickery, it came fully programmed to seek and swat bare legs. This twig of destruction remains the ultimate skin conditioner for ghastly manners, forgotten chores, or sneaking a sip of your Dad’s beverage.  I firmly believe I kept in great shape during the summer months by one simple exercise—the switch dance.   

  For the other crowd having a hard time following, try this in your next aerobics class. Have someone hold one arm at a right angle, roughly 45-degrees, and place your free hand behind your backside (ensure complete coverage of your fanny). Now run in circles high stepping until you collapse to the ground. Remain in fetal position for 30-seconds to gather thoughts while gurgling for air, and then make an obscene gesture, or mutter my all-time favorite…    

   That didn‘t hurt!”   

  The sheer idiocy of this statement—knowing full well the outcome—mystifies me, and we all tried it at least once.    

  Next, spring to your feet repeating the previous act until one person smacks the ground toes up, eyes rolled back in the head, and blowing snot-bubbles. The only sound ranked close on the petrified-scale of a switch cutting the air. The sonic crack of my father’s belt slicing the sound barrier as it passed each belt loop. The entire movement completed in the blink of an eye and left Dad poised in a fencer’s on-guard position. Dropping down in a Kung-Fu stance, he could whip the belt with a snap and magically turn it into a doubled-over attitude adjuster (Bruce Lee didn’t have crap on Dad’s back then).   

  I see so many low hanging branches in yards these days, but then again, I guess the branches seemed a little higher to a kid. They don’t scare me anymore, and I have come to enjoy the music they provide as the shade creeps along their lengths. It’s not often I cut a switch for personal use, and on those rare occasions, I draw great pleasure from their company—I whittle. As the shavings litter the ground at my feet, their memories loose slightly that rough edge of yesteryear and leave the purest of times…sadly gone forever.   

   I tried to pull my belt off with the same flair and grace as my Father, and I guess some manly characteristics are handed down, some are not. There’s no snap or showmanship for me, and not an ounce of flair, grace, or coordination resembling that of a true Master. My technique leaves a distorted impression of Otis from Mayberry trying to break-dance. I don’t remember Dad’s belt being this long doubled-over, so I guess waistlines are subject to the passing of time, as are memories.

  

Uncle Buck

 

 

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