- The County Fair. This used to be something big. Like, the highlight of our summer. There were elephant ears and foot long corn dogs and the Tilt-a-Whirl and the chance to win a goldfish in a little plastic bag. Oh my was it wonderful. And way over on the other side of the fairgrounds there was music, music that we'd never heard before wafting in from the main stage. And there were even animals that you could pet in the agricultural barns. How cool was that? But not it doesn't seem to amaze us anymore. I mean, don't get me wrong, it's not like I am dissing the county fair. It is still a pleasant diversion from the routine of daily life, but it doesn't have the wonder. I mean, we know all about it, and most of us have seen bigger and better. So it's nice but it's not AMAZING and that sort of makes me sad.
- Fireworks. Fireworks have always been awesome. And they are still pretty freaking awesome. But honestly, I think that they have lost some of their awesomeness from when I was a kid. Oh man, back in the day the colors and the lights and the booming and the explosions were so full of wonder and amazement and greatness for me my parents probably always had to bring a change of underpants for me. Lying on a blanket at the Expo Center watching colors explode from the sky was perfect. But now I fear that I look at fireworks differently. I look to see where they are setting them off to see what kind of setup they have. I see the white and know that it is magnesium burning, see the green and think copper. Which is okay I suppose. But I look at the fireworks going off in the sky or under the ore dock and don't just think that it's amazing and fantastic that there are explosions in the sky but I critique the artistry and production values of it. How awful is that? I can never just be happy with the fact that people have figured out how to blow up the sky. I have to have it be aesthetically pleasing. I should be beaten with a stick.
- Supermarkets. When I was a kid the supermarket was ridiculous. First of all, it was huge. I mean absolutely gigantic. And everything in it was cool. Because first of all there was more candy than any one child could fathom. Everything from Jelly Bellies to chocolate to circus peanuts. There were hot dogs and macaroni and cheese and cereal of every kind. There were items that I knew nothing about except that they were delicious because they were in brightly colored boxes. Hello!? Even the fruits and vegetable section was a wonderland because a.) the food wasn't in a package and you could touch it b.) you could also throw it and make grown ups do hilarious things and c.) there were little automatic nozzles that rained water down every so often. How great is that? And I think that the best part of the supermarket was that I could have all of it and more. Whatever I wanted. Because my mom had the checkbook. Who are we kidding? I was seven, I didn't have to pay for shit. But now, I can read, and I am poor. So I have to compare and buy off brands and clip coupons and budget and count calories and you know what? The supermarket is not so great anymore. While a trip to EconoFoods (Fresh savings now!) can still be fun it no longer holds the magic that a trip to Senty did when I was a child. So you'd think that I would be getting skinnier. But no.
- The Basement. A lot of people are scared of basements. I am not. And I think that that comes from the fact that my parents had a furnished basement rec room in the house I grew up in. Oh and is it great. It is straight out of the early 80's, with lots of that faux wood panelling that is thinner and more brittle than even waferboard could ever be. And thin brown carpet laid right over the cement floor. There is also a bar down there with stools and carpet where the elbow pad should be. There is even a refrigerator that used to be a giant kegerator but now has been converted back to being just a plain old fridge. It even had the tapper on it and a little tray with a grate for overflow. How great is that? And there was a pool table and all sorts of old furniture. It was sweet. I used to drive Matchbox cars on the floor and the bar and get my fishing lures stuck in the carpeted part of the bar. But it was great. I used to play down there all the time and watch Ducktales on the gigantic old Curtis Mathis TV set with the old school cable box. It was good times. But as I grew up and the pool table grew broken and the furniture seemed more and more tacky well, it just wasn't as wonderful. And now it is filled with junk and the magic is lost forever. And there is one less place to try and recapture that wonder.
That's just a random sampling of the things that aren't that have just lost their shine. I am sure you can think of more if you try. And so could I. There are still times when that sense of childish wonder and playfulness and amazement can be recaptured. Maybe it's seeing a muskrat swimming through the clearest spring water ever high up in the Idaho Rockies. Maybe it's playing with sparklers on a very early spring night with Sister and Sweaty Betty. Maybe it's staring down at the earth passing below at dusk from the window seat of a 737 and watching as town after town and farm after farm turned on their lights. So it's there. It's deeply embedded in out psyche and our genes. So it's on us to uncover it every once in a while. Try next time the fireworks are going off. Just live in the moment and enjoy the bang.