When I was a kid, things were simpler. A lot simpler.
You need sneakers? We’ve got some nice Keds for you. One style, in white. And maybe, if we’re feeling really adventurous, we might get in some blue or red ones, just for fun.
Telephones? There’s the solid black dial up, very reliable. Plug it in and you’re good to go. AT&T will provide the service, one size fits all.
Expecting a phone call, a really important one? Stay put, then. Because otherwise the phone will just ring and ring, you won’t be there, and the caller might give up forever, and you’ll never even know he called.
TV? Do you want the tiny screen or the small screen? It’s black and white. And then a few years later you get the excitement of color. The signal just comes, for free. No choices there, except the channels: NBC, CBS, ABC, and then a few local stations (9 and 11 and 13 in New York City).
Want to watch a TV show? Well, you better be home, or at the house of a friend with a TV, cause if not you’re out of luck. And if you miss the moment you’ll miss it forever; reruns and You Tube weren’t even a gleam in somebody’s eye.
Want to take a trip? Get on the highway, which might have only two lanes. Interstates are few and far between. But gas costs 25 cents a gallon, and cheaper in New Jersey.
Or call a travel agent and they’ll book you a flight. The fare to fly to a particular city on a certain airline won’t vary much no matter what day you want to go. You’ll get a ticket you can hold in your hand. And you should probably get dressed up a bit, because it’s extra special.
Want to rent a car when you arrive? There’s Hertz and Avis. For that matter—want to buy a car? There’s Chrysler, Ford, and GM, the big cars and the bigger cars. My father would call the dealer every two years and order a new Chrysler sight unseen. The only real question was what color. In my father’s case it was always dark; in my mother’s, light (a Plymouth, blue or white).
Fast forward to today (and it did go awfully fast, didn’t it?). So many choices, so little time! Or maybe there’s so little time because there are so many choices.