"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

Then and now

By on May 25, 2020 in Columnist with 0 Comments

By Jim Brigleb

I get a kick out of Dan McConnell’s cartoon “Then and Now.” 

Like other readers, I’m led to reflect on how times have changed. And boy have they.

Take television for example. Are you old enough to remember Leave It to Beaver, Father Knows Best, or The Ozzie and Harriet Show

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) kept a tight rein on decency standards. In the 1950s, married couples had separate beds. 

And from there, we graduated to the requirement that if ever the married couple was on one bed, or even a sofa, there had to be one foot touching the ground. 

Because everybody knows that as long as you have a foot anchored on terra firma, nothing naughty can happen. 

Further, both people were fully clothed, the husband in his suit and tie, and the wife in a modest, below-the-knee dress; shoes, of course, still intact on both people.

Fast forward 45 years. Occasionally, through no fault of my own, I will be viewing a show where a couple ends up on a bed. 

Perhaps one or both actors will have a foot on the floor. However, the leg (and all other parts) are stark naked. And the leg placement has nothing to do with decency — it is more of an artistic consideration. 

Married? Are you kidding? That would be dull; these people, whatever their gender, just met a few minutes ago. 

And the aforementioned show titles, like Leave It to Beaver and Father Knows Best, would carry different connotations altogether. 

Then there’s the language. 

Remember what the Beav used to say when he’d get really riled up at his brother Wally? Crikey. That’s right, Crikey. 

I don’t think it was until the 1960s that anybody uttered H-E-double toothpicks. And if that cropped up in the entertainment, my dad would march over and turn off the offending appliance and mutter, “That’s enough of that trash.” 

Today, I think it must be an FCC requirement to include profanity, and particularly the F-bomb. In fact, if it’s a genre I enjoy, such as foreign espionage, then I’m pretty sure it has to be used in every second or third sentence. 

Honestly, I’ve never watched a really good spy show where the protagonist gets angry due to the conflict established in the plot and says, “What the crikey!?!” And that’s a shame. 

Anyway, the impact of constant profanity on television and in the movies has had a wonderful effect on people in their 20s and 30s. 

At the gym the other day, I had the privilege of listening to the conversation of a couple of young men who were very creative with the English grammar. The slang word, which once referred to intercourse, was used as an interjection, noun, adjective, verb, adverb, participle, and preposition. 

It just made one wonder why we bother having so many other words. I mean, dictionaries are filled with so much waste.

Speaking of the gym, this is where I really don’t get the Then and Now conundrum. 

Based on the above, one would think guys in their 20s and 30s would be totally unabashed about nakedness in the men’s locker room. 

No, it’s us old guys who grew up in high school gym classes, forced to take showers — without clothes on! You had freshman in with sophomores, juniors and seniors. Peach fuzz and beards. 

The freshman ran the gauntlet of being towel snapped. Today, that would be bullying and a hate crime; then it was sort of a rite of passage. 

But back to the gym, the old guys still take showers while the younger guys look at us like we’re some kind of perverted exhibitionist. Meanwhile, if a shower is required, the youngers sneak into a stall wearing a bathrobe. How does this add up?

Sometimes, I wonder where things will go in the next 45 years. What will shock my kids and grandkids? 

I can just imagine my grandson lecturing his children and grandchildren: “In my day, people had the decency to use the F-Bomb, and sex on television didn’t include animals. We NEVER showed an actual bowel movement, and cannibalism was considered a heinous crime!”

 “What? I said ‘heinous’… go look it up. 

“What do you mean there are no dictionaries? Crikey!”

Jim Brigleb is a retired teacher living in Wenatchee who loves writing as an outlet. His books can be found on Amazon by using the search term “Brigleb.”

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