That and that and that!

Going back isn’t an option. It took me years to stop worrying about what I didn’t accomplish. The worrying had turned to regret. I regretted not going down certain roads — turning right when maybe I should have turned left. I knew that I shouldn’t regret where I was. I was on this path because that is where my destiny took me. The regret may have caused anxiety of missed opportunities; the path dreamed of a better life.

Things may have not gone to plan but I’m still moving forward. I’ve learned so much. I’m stuck my foot in my mouth several times. There was a time where I would have told someone, I will always collect Star Wars toys. Well, I’ve not collected a Star Wars toy in a decade. (Golly! Has it been over ten years since the end of the Prequal Trilogy?) Then there was a time that I would have told someone, that I will forever keep my collectibles. I’ve sold most of them and I’m continuing you sell and purge the things I don’t need. (I’m really moving toward a life of simple and minimalism.)

As I child, I had a hand in so many geek things: playing D&D, collecting Star Wars and Star Trek, building plastic model kits of naval ships and World War II airplanes, and reading / hoarding comic books. Some of these hobbies have come and gone. As I head into the second half of my life, I’ve found that some of those hobbies have returned. At first, I criticized myself for not being more true to those past hobbies. Figuring that if I had been building model kits for the past 20 years, I’d be much better at it. Then, I realized that actually I have something I would have lost—the ability to enjoy the discovery. So, I’ve returned to building plastic model kits. Instead of stating, “I’ve built that and that and that. what’s left to do?” I can say, “I can’t wait to build that and that and that!”

Life takes us where we are meant to be. We don’t get a rewind button. Nor should we have one. Know that your core will always be true but the small details can and will change over time. Embrace it!

The President’s On…Oh no!

I’m old but not that …old. But I do remember a time when the President addressed the nation that your whole night of TV watching was ruined!

I don’t recall what kind of refrigerator or stove we had as I was growing up. But I do recall the television. I know that both the refrigerator and stove were vital for keeping me alive — with being key to food storage and preparation. That was kind of important. Yet, the television raised me. I’m surprised I didn’t call it Papa Television. It watched over me after school and on Saturdays. It was responsible for teaching me important life lessons — and informing me what cool new toys to want. Oh, and breakfast cereal. So, it was partly responsible for keeping me alive as how would I’ve known about Cookie Crisp and Honey Nut Bunch?

The television was a 1977 19 inch color Zenith with a dual dial. It wasn’t one of those TVs stuck into a furniture cabinet. We had a TV stand. Yet, like most TVs of the time, it was molded in a wood-grain plastic to appear more furniture like. It didn’t even have coaxial connectors. I remember we had to have UHF to VHF (transformer) adapter to use cable. The top dial had 13 VHF cable channels and the bottom dial had the 14 -83 UHF channels using it with an antenna. I find it odd that in the 70s and 80s TVs were referred to in advertisements as “color” (or “B&W”). This sounds absurd today because who’d want a 65 inch LED “Black and White” television? Yet back then, color in your TV was a premium and added a $100. I’m pretty sure my mother bought the TV from SEARS. Yet, I do remember we had the tuner replaced twice (yes kids, spinning the dial was indeed bad for the tuner). And I know we had a tube replaced too. It’s no lie. There were shops and people that actually repaired televisions. I think to fix a TV today is just buy a new one!

Papa Television was a key member of my family. He was responsible for entertaining me with Knight Rider, Dukes of Hazzard and Sunday Night Movies! These were all broadcast on the big THREE networks — ABC, CBS and NBC. Those were the only channels that aired new shows. We had a few other affiliates to enjoy but they only played old movies or reruns of I Love Lucy or F Troop. The worst thing that could happen to a kid — or me — was the night the President decided to address the nation.

Click. Click. Click. All the channels had the President! “Noooo! He’s on all channels!” For a kid, it just sucked. I remember sitting watching him, whispering, “hurry up.” Sitting there, I asked my mother, “is he done yet?” She was very patient and say “not yet.” Tapping fingers. Twitching feet. Hoping any second, he’d say, “Good night and God Bless America!” Wait! Did he just say it! He did. “God Bless America!” Now back to Six Million Dollar Man….

Dr. Pepper.

When I was 9 years old, I was very particular what I liked to eat and drink. One of those was Dr. Pepper. I’m not sure why. Perhaps I just loved its sweet flavor. I do know that I didn’t want to drink Pepsi as most everyone I knew was forced to drink it. So I picked something different.

[Backstory: Roswell was the site of a Pepsi Bottling Factory. Many of my friends had parents that in some way worked for the plant. Being employees of Pepsi, they were expected to drink Pepsi. And that trickled down to my friends. So, Pepsi was everywhere. The blue and red cans burned my retinas. My mother didn’t work for the bottling plant so I figured I could drink anything I wanted. So I drank Dr. Pepper. Funny thing, I found out many years later, once the plant closed and disappeared, the same Pepsi Bottling Plant was responsible for bottling Dr. Pepper in Southeast New Mexico.]

We lived in this apartment complex around that time. It was called Columbia Manor – like the name made it more luxurious than it really was. In the court yard, there were massive trees and lots of grass – lots of area to run and climb for a kid – and a swimming pool. Next to the pool was a small laundry room and right outside — a Dr. Pepper machine!

The machine was simple and smelling — dispensing Dr. Pepper in a can. It was those Dr. Pepper cans that I noticed they went from pull tabs to the tabs we see on cans today. Unfortunately, I was guilty of littering with those old pull tabs. I’m not proud but it was different times. And the price of a can of Dr. Pepper: only 25 cents! The next summer I remember it going up to 30 cents and I panicked that I would now need another nickel. Dr. Pepper may have been my very first addiction. I wanted it all the time. No, I needed it. I would drink it after school. Run to the machine on Saturday mornings in between Smurfs and Alvin and the Chipmunks. If I had no money, I would peddling my BMX bike in the parking lot of the Tastee Freeze and Long John Silvers hoping to find nickels and dimes.

At my mother’s work, there was another Dr. Pepper machine. Yet, this one was an old fashioned side-loader that dispensed Dr. Pepper in bottles. It was so fun using the bottle opener on the machine to pop the top off my Dr. Pepper. Nothing was better than ice cold Dr. Pepper in a bottle. I can remember the fizz tickling my nose. I nearly threw a tantrum when I learned they took the machine away. Rumor was that it was losing money and there was a ability to pull two bottles at one time confusing the machine and getting two drinks for one. (who would do that? It’s immoral and — okay it was me, okay! I really regret that.)

Today, after 30 years, I rarely drink Dr. Pepper. Not sure when and where I stopped drinking it. I know in Junior High, Cherry Coke hit the scene. It may have been then. I sometimes drink one, as I did this morning. My daughter loves it. She only drinks it and refuses to settle for any of its knock-offs like Mr. Pibb. And it’s due to her and her generosity to share a Dr. Pepper with me — triggering this flood of memories….