The Good Old Days — Not

Don’t get me wrong, nostalgia has a big place in my life. I love elements of the past, including Victorian novels, big band music from the 1920s, and full-skirted cocktail dresses from the 1950s. But I wouldn’t want to live in any of those eras, largely for practical considerations. I was one of those annoying kids who couldn’t read The Little House books without wondering how and where they went to the bathroom, and much as I love Jane Austen-esque romance, I wouldn’t really want to live without antibiotics, electricity, or the ability of women to own and inherit property, which of course was the issue driving most of the romance anyhow.

A lot of things have improved over the years, and one advantage of getting older is that we get to see change for the better. I gaped at my mother’s stories of her college sorority (which had “girdle checks” every morning) kicking her out for dating my father (who wasn’t in an approved fraternity, on top of being Jewish), and my kids are horrified when I tell them about learning to type on a manual typewriter, or that until I was in 8th grade, girls weren’t allowed to wear pants to school.

Now, my boys can look forward to telling their kids about when gay marriage wasn’t a universal right. They were born in the mid-’90s, so they’ve seen the whole progression of the issue. In fact, the first wedding my older son attended was that of my college best friend and his partner, who had a commitment ceremony when my son was 3, and I served as the “best man.” For a few years after that, David was puzzled when he saw an opposite-sex couple get married.

Since my kids are 17 and 20, I hope I have to wait a while for grandchildren (although I do expect them eventually, boys, in case you’re reading this). So in the meantime, I will rejoice as each state adopts marriage equality and come up with an appropriate song — here’s my tribute to Hawaii.


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