Surviving ‘Old Skool’ recess

By Sean Pearson

If you are reading this while awake, upright and semi-conscious, congratulations! You’ve survived your first day of school.
I realize this is — technically — the second day of school. But, I understand how some of you may need a little extra recovery time — especially with all that back-packing, lunch-making, clothes-arguing, hair-disaster-fixing, ribbon-straightening and shoe-tying going on. Besides, I’ve heard from a number of reliable sources around town that there is a secret, underground network of Homer moms who meet surreptitiously for champagne after dropping their kids off on the first day of school.
That’s just wrong, ladies. (But only because I didn’t think of it first.)
As an interesting aside, I’m moving away from changing my name to Rock, and have started leaning toward something I think is a little more responsible and much more mature. And, since it’s obviously way too difficult to re-teach my goldfish how to say a new first name, I’ve decided to opt for a middle-name change:
That’s right. Sean ‘Danger’ Pearson. I think it has a nice ring to it and just screams subtlety. (Maybe I’ll add the little single quotes around it as my trademark. Then people might think I’m making some kind of double entendre — if I knew what that actually meant.)
And yes, I know what you’re thinking. But don’t worry. My goldfish hardly ever uses my middle name.
Speaking of brain damage, I’m reminded of the “Old Skool” outdoor torture devices at school that they used to refer to as “playground equipment.”
(There’s definitely a brain damage connection there if you consider the number of times I fell head-first off various colorful death traps disguised as playground equipment.) Playing was tough back then … no, really.
Case in point: Wide steel-covered slides.
Maybe this was no big deal for those of you who grew up in chillier climates and didn’t experience what shiny steel, scorching sun, 104-degree temperatures and shorts can do to the back of your legs. And you would think I would be smart enough to figure it out eventually. Even Pavlov’s dogs could do conditioned reflex. Geez.
Next case: Old Skool recess consisted of steel jungle gym bars that were often 15-30 feet above ground level. That was just enough elevation to allow for a half-second free-fall, before having the wind knocked out of you when you landed flat on your back. It was almost as much fun as seeing who could hold their breath long enough to pass out first. (Teachers LOVE that one.)
And then there was the spinning carousel of death. We kinda looked at that one as a type of population-control apparatus. This was the one you had to hang onto and run alongside to get going. Little kids always got on first and just hung on. Older kids would get it spinning faster and faster, and then jump on.
I’ve seen kids vaporize on one of those things — if you get it going fast enough. I knew a kid in third grade who disappeared on one for three whole days. Perhaps it was all just part of that whole time/space continuum thing that I don’t really understand, but he came back with a full beard, an eye patch and a slight limp.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Kids today are just too soft.
When I was a kid, we didn’t have fancy slides and rocket-ship-shaped jungle gyms. We played with rocks and dirt, and we were happy to have ‘em.
Red Rover was a staple. We played it every day. Sure, it got a little bloody that time Billy Collins opened up a compound fracture of the humerus while trying to bust his way through the Hannigan twins. (We all told him not to try it.)
That pretty much ruined Red Rover for all of us for the rest of our schooling years. For some odd reason, teachers called it “dangerous” and said we couldn’t play anymore.
But there was always kickball.
And while it’s certainly not politically correct any more to “choose teams,” back then, it was perfectly acceptable to ostracize and demean other kids, simply by refusing to pick them for games until the very last.
Then again, there were always ways around that too. I remember making some pretty sweet deals in the back of the cafeteria on kickball day. You could get a heckuva kicker with a Thermos of Chef Boyardee Raviolios and a Hostess cupcake.
Still, compound fractures are much more exciting.
I’m just sayin’ …

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Posted by on Aug 25th, 2010 and filed under Spiew. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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