“Damn!” I exclaimed out of the blue as my son and I returned home from his practice.
“What?” he asked.
“We took care of that early so we wouldn’t forget and I just remembered,” I began. Understandably, he looked confused. “First theng, when we get home, you need to address that envelope so I can mail it tomorrow morning.” He nodded, and I felt better for having remembered.
As evenings go for most people, one of the most necessary events is getting dinner ready. We arrived home and no sooner do we hit the door (which enters directly into the kitchen) then I begin thinking about what to make for dinner. We both greeted the dog because she’s always there waiting for us to give her a treat or something. He went and got cleaned up while I began making dinner. We got to talking about this and that, then ate dinner, and afterward I helped him with an English paper.
Next morning I’m up and eating a bowl of cereal when simply staring at the counter and its wide, empty space, reminds me that we forgot—again—to take care of the envelope. He came out and started making his breakfast and I pounced on the poor kid. “You need to address that envelope before you leave this morning.”
And this, dear readers, is what made my brain feel like it skipped a cog; he says “I don’t remember how to address it.”
I stared at him, frozen in place. I couldn’t grasp the concept. “I have the address” I say.
“No, I mean I don’t remember how to do it.”
“What? You don’t remember how to address an —”
That’s what I said” he smarts back. It’s early, he hasn’t eaten breakfast, and he’s a teenager. I cut him some slack, but I still feel mortally dumbfounded. It isn’t until I began to mentally massage the numbness from my brain that I even considered why he wouldn’t remember.
I don’t recall addressing lots of envelopes growing up, but I know for certain I did enough to remember the format. Didn’t hurt that both my parents worked for the post office, either. It is, without argument, an almost mindless task, something we do without much thought, a sort of correspondence auto-pilot, if you will. But you don’t need to stretch your mind too far to see the writing on the virtual wall: the advent of, and ease of access to, electronic means of communication has radically changed the way which we communicate. Many of us reading this post, I’d bet, have a degree of affinity for the ‘old way’ of doing things. Getting an actual handwritten letter is rare anymore. I’m as guilty as anyone. I type so much faster than I can write, and my penmanship stinks on ice. But I remember the distinction between ‘printing’ your name and ‘writing’ your name in cursive. Yay for me, huh?
So I grabbed the address and walked him through it again. I’m sure it won’t be the last time. But this wee episode made me wonder — what else might we consign to oblivion?
How about personal phone calls? Seems the growing (and disturbing) trend is toward texting on the very phones we could use to call the other person on.
Knowing how to wrap a gift? Seems an idiotic notion, doesn’t it? Next time you’re in almost any store look at all the gift cards available. I’m not ready to believe that wrapping presents is going the way of the dodo, but do your kids know how to wrap them? My son used to know, but I’m not sure if he remembers. I ask him and he says (predictably) “Nope.”
Are these earmarked for extinction too?:
• Changing the tire on a bicycle?
• Making a “mix tape” . . . remember those?
• Playing board or card games? Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land, Monopoly, Concentration, Checkers, Chess. Most of these can now be found electronically, for your phone, iPad, or PC.
• God forbid we should ever forget how to read an actual book!
Well, he got it addressed properly—but I put the stamp on. I’m not sure if he has any idea what a stamp is, but I’m sure his smartphone could tell him.