Lately I’ve been thinking about the fact that memory can be unreliable. I’ve been thinking about how hard it is to get a sense of recent history.
Where we live gets closer to Calgary every day. When we drive to the city and go to Country Hills Boulevard we shake our heads, knowing we’ve been married longer than those stores have existed. Whole communities, hundreds and hundreds of homes, have sprouted up over time, and still the building continues, creeping north. They’re working on a big mall now, apparently one that will outdo West Edmonton Mall. It’s outside the city boundaries, but it just may mean that in the next few years, we can reach a chain bookstore in 20 minutes.
Am I the only person who finds it hard, geographically, when dealing with recent history in writing? Something I’ve been working on has had me scratching my head, wondering, “When did that theatre shut down?” and “What was the name of that restaurant before the new owners bought it?”
In the midst of pondering all of this a friend sent the following. Personally speaking, there are a few that really ring true, so I thought I’d share. I actually remember kids getting the strap at school… Wonder what year that was banned?
SCHOOL 1977 vs 2007
Scenario 1: Jack goes quail hunting before school, pulls into school parking lot with shotgun in gun rack.
1977 - Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack's shotgun, goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack.
2007 - School goes into lock down, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.
Scenario 2: Johnny and Mark get into a fistfight after school.
1977 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.
2007 - Police called, SWAT team arrives, arrests Johnny and Mark. Charge them with assault, both expelled even though Johnny started it.
Scenario 3: Jeffrey won't be still in class, disrupts other students.
1977 - Jeffrey sent to office and given a good paddling by the Principal. Returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.
2007 - Jeffrey given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie. Tested for ADD. School gets extra money from state because Jeffrey has a disability.
Scenario 4: Billy breaks a window in his neighbor's car and his Dad gives him a spanking.
1977 - Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.
2007 - Billy's Dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy removed to foster care and joins a gang. State psychologist tells Billy's sister that she remembers being abused herself and their Dad goes to prison. Billy's mom has affair with psychologist.
Scenario 5: Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.
1977 - Mark shares aspirin with Principal out on the smoking dock.
2007 - Police called, Mark expelled from school for drug violations. Car searched for drugs and weapons.
Scenario 6: Pedro fails high school English.
1977 - Pedro goes to summer school, passes English, goes to college.
2007 - Pedro's cause is taken up by state. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against state school system and Pedro's English teacher. English banned from core curriculum. Pedro given diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.
Scenario 7: Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from 4th of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle, blows up a red ant bed.
1977 - Ants die.
2007 - BATF, Homeland Security, FBI called. Johnny charged with domestic terrorism, FBI investigates parents, siblings removed from home, computers confiscated, Johnny's Dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.
Scenario 8: Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Mary. Mary hugs him to comfort him.
1977 - In a short time, Johnny feels better and goes on playing.
2007 - Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in State Prison. Johnny undergoes 5 years of therapy.