Tuesday, May 18, 2010

As Time Goes By

After watching my home-from-college Theo spend yet another evening on his laptop, I felt constrained to ask, "You wanna play a game or something?"

"No, thanks," he said.

Really, I don't know why I asked. He's never been much of a games player. But, somehow, I couldn't let this one go. "So, uh, do you play card games at college?"

[Puzzled look from Theo]

"You know, cards - 52 of them, 4 suits, that sort of thing?"

"Oh! Oh, no, I guess not." He attempted to return to Facebook.

"Do the other kids play cards?" I persisted.

[Another puzzled look]

I warmed to my subject. "I remember playing Hearts and bridge at college; sometimes we'd get tired of cards and play some backgammon instead." Ooh, it was giving me the warm fuzzies, just thinking of it. "We drank orange soda and ate Doritos and stayed up all night playing those games. It was so much fun!"

[Silence. A polite silence, but silence nevertheless.]

"Didn't you and your friends ever do that?" I asked him.

"Oh, uh, I guess not. We just hang out."

"Online, or in person?"

"Oh, both, I guess."

Okay, I won't lie. I was getting a little perturbed at this point. Those all-night hands of hearts were just so seminal to my college experience. I couldn't believe that wasn't still happening, that all these memories of my youth were no more. I felt angry, bewildered, like a Rip Van Winkle waking up after 25 years. Where was my world?

I could have tried shocking Theo out of his 21st-century complacency. I could have said, "You know, when we wanted to talk to someone in our dorm back then, we had to go find them. And I had to wait a whole week for a phone to be installed in my dorm room freshman year. For privacy, I had to pull the phone out in the hall, with the cord under the door. The words came through that cord, see? We needed the cord. If I wanted to watch TV, I had to watch what everyone else was watching in the lounge. Which was, if memory serves me correctly, either General Hospital or M*A*S*H, because nothing much else was on..."

I know, it's not Theo's fault. It's a brave new world, and it doesn't belong to the likes of me. My memories won't be his memories; and soon no one but old people like myself will remember doing things like playing Hearts until the sun rose. Theo's generation will remember "chatting" until their fingers fall off, I guess; or maybe they'll remember an all-night texting session. But it's not the same. It can't be the same.

Oh, man, only the greatest movie ever made - you all can keep your stupid Avatar. My friends and I would wait for this to be shown at the campus movie theater each year (we couldn't just watch it on video, because we didn't have those) and we'd all walk together to go see it. It was a shared experience, if anyone even knows what that is anymore...

[Cards photo credit: magic tricks blog]

[Backgammon photo credit: onlinesportbookbetting.com]

[MASH photo credit: wikipedia]


  1. I was just thinking this the other day. I heard a kid say to my son, "I'd rather text her, I really don't like talking on the phone."

    It's like they're getting uncomfortable with human interaction.

    This concerns me, b/c what kind of parents will we have? Those that would rather tend to their own thing? Rather than a shared experience?

    Good post, thank you.

  2. There's a shared experience right here. Look! You have 222 followers. That's so cool. Like Room 222, which used to be on TV. I wonder if it's out on DVD yet . . .

  3. So . . . to answer my own foolish question: Yes. Room 222 is out on DVD. :-)

  4. (I just looked up Room 222 on Amazon, btw.)

    My work here is finished. I'll let myself out.

  5. While I tend to dislike texting, I hate face book, and I don't begrudge you your moment of nostalgia for your card playing college years well . . . you can't be too much older than me, and when I went to college, we stayed up all night too, but we weren't playing cards. Many nights, we couldn't have spelled cards. Maybe he was trying to save you your tender mommy perspective? Just sayin' . . .

  6. I pulled out a deck of cards the other day and told my son, "You're at least going to learn to play two versions of Solitaire before you leave this house."

    Gotta' have something to do on those dateless nights in the dorm.

  7. In college I stayed up all night playing Dungeons and Dragons. None of my friends drank- we couldn't afford it. Plus, you didn't want to play D&D while drunk, it was a good way to get your character eaten by an improbable imaginary monster.

  8. Texting has a place, though I use it very seldom, FB makes me smile just about daily, I am a very crummy tweeter/twitter/?, but, our kids are interacting the same way many of us do through blogs...it isn't bad per se, just different.

  9. We took walks to 7-11 for sodas that were probably gallon-sized. We discussed things ENDLESSLY. You just never have that time again.

  10. AnonymousMay 19, 2010

    We played fierce rounds of double and triple solitaire! Oh the fun we had!
    And we'd huddle around one gal's TV set and watch MTV's Headbanger's Ball. Good times. (wipes eye and sniffs)

  11. AnonymousMay 19, 2010

    the strangest thing? kids/college attendees text and instant message each other while in the same room or just next door! my flatmate did that and actually felt offended when i walked over to her room to answer her in person...

    people... ;-)

  12. My two (well one just graduated, so now one) college kids seem to do the same things I did, get together and drink, talk, go out to eat, talk, go out to dance or hear music, talk. It is all just more expensive now. The boy did a lot more of the video game stuff in the early years of school, now he is just as likely to go on night bike rides or have bonfires on the beach with friends.

  13. Pictionary was one of our games of choice and we'd have hours-long sessions that involved a lot of talking and laughing. Beer was involved too, which meant we'd inevitably reach a point in, say, Scattergories, in which someone was too far gone to play or would start making up new rules to the games.

    I started college in 1987 and I had a TYPEWRITER that year. Dang, that makes me feel old.

  14. yes our kids will never know what it is like without cell phones, when you actually had to go find a pay phone...now you can't find even a 1 pay phone! They are all gone!

    THey will never know what a tape cassette or an 8-track is...that is what I had as a kid...does this date me??? LOL

    anyways, technology is really changing and will continue to change...go with the flow is my motto!

  15. I'm 21, in college, and I do play card and board games with my friends all the time! It's like:
    What are we doing at the weekend/thursday night?
    Oh, how about a game night?!

    I guess we're just "different". Or is it because I study Social Works? ;-)

  16. I have 12 decks of cards in my classroom and that's what I let my kids do during advisory--I think it's a great way to socialize and it's a dying skill. Not on my watch!

  17. "Mom, you are just SO embarrassing!" (Theo)

    Hey, next time I have to tell everyone dinner is served, Im just going to Facebook it. I'm sure my gang will come running from their various PCs all over the house. Very, very sad isn't it?

  18. Oh Honk! What's the world coming too. You are absolutly right. My college roomies played Uno, Rage and on the occasional sunny day we played Volleyball outside. Now, when my kids hang out with friends all they play is video games like Halo. I'm wondering if a forced Pioneer week might help, but the threat of them all whineing is enough to humble the toughest mom. Stupid Technology!

  19. AnonymousMay 20, 2010

    Great post. I started feeling like that when my brother was in college.

    Yeah, TV in the dorm lounge - totally. And in my case, it wasn't cards. Just up all night talking, doing ANYTHING, but write that damn paper which was due the next morning.

  20. Yes, the TV in the lounge, the actual walking and knocking on someone's door to find a friend... but the only time we played cards, it was with decreasing amounts of clothing.

    I caught my son texting while brushing his teeth this morning.