The Wonder Years

When I was growing up, one of the greatest shows on television was The Wonder Years.  Anyone close to my age surely remebers this show and probably has some fond memories of a number of the episodes.  It told the story of Kevin Arnold as he grew up un the late 60’s, beginning in 1968, to the mid-70’s from the point of view of him as an adult.  It was done as a voice over, with his present day self recoutning the events of his childhood.  The show debuted on ABC in 1988, meaning that the adult Kevin Arnold was chronicling his life twenty years prior.  The other day, I found the entire collection of episodes was available on Netflix.  So, I started watching from the first episode.  I discovered that if my life today were the basis of The Wonder Years and I was the narrator, I would have to tell the story of my life 20 years ago.  When I discovered that the show had begun airing in 1988, I quickly did the math from my present day, 2011 to twenty years ago, 1991, and nearly fell off my chair.  How was this possible?  I remember 1991.  Nineteen ninety-one was not a long time ago.  My memories aren’t faded poloroid photos or grainy 8mm video footage.  Nineteen ninety-one was nothing like 1968.  Kevin Arnold wore bell bottoms and watched a man land on the moon.  In 1991 I was listening to Pearl Jam and playing PlayStation.  When I watched The Wonder Years, part of the appeal was listening to my mother laugh at the silly fashion trends that I had no way of possibly understanding.  The Wonder Years took place in a time that did not exist to me, in a world far different than todays.  I look at that show now and think about my life today and wonder how could my life 20 years ago be so very distant from today?  While I am certain I could tell wonderful stories of my life in 1991, I can’t imagine that someone today would sit in front of the television and think, “Wow, what a crazy time that was!”

When people speak in terms of 20 years, I think of that as a long time, but when I think of my childhood, I can’t seem to comprehend the true length of those same 20 years.  On one hand, so much has really changed, for me and for the world, but on the other hand, I feel no different.  Sure, I am not the ten year old I was in 1991, and certainly I have matured and seen the world around me change considerably, but my past isn’t faded and strange to the current collection of ten year olds, is it?  I suppose it must be.  I suppose they see a world that did not function with cell phones and think we were primitive.  They probably don’t even know what the term “dial-up” means.  There were no iPhones, iPods, iPads, and the first and only thing “i” in my future was an iMac, that today has come and gone.  Despite my constant complaining, I don’t actually feel old.  Kevin Arnold (the voice over) would have been somewhere between 33 and 40 for the duration of the show.  (As it was fictional, I don’t know how much time actually passed from when  he began telling his tales to when the show ended, although the show lasted 6 seasons.)  When the show ended, he was married, he had at least one kid, and somehow in my mind he struck me as a “grown-up.”  I am 30 years old and don’t see myself as a ‘grown-up” just yet.  I mean, to be a grown-up, you need a wife and a kid and probably a house.  I have a little car and an apartment.  I can’t narrate the Wonder Years of my life if I’m not even married yet.

So what does this mean for me?  I’m not sure.  I guess I better find a wife and start having babies.  Ok, I am saying that sarcastically, but in truth, it does frighten me just a little to think I have reached a point in my life where I have lived long enough to go back and tell stories about it and there are those alive today who will listen like I am spinning a folk tale.  I won’t lie, I wouldn’t mind finding someone to “settle down with,” although I don’t know how much more settled I can be.  There’s no denying it anymore.  I’m not too young to get married.  In fact, if I wait much longer, I run the risk of becoming too old.  I see how other things have gone in my life and I think I better get a move on if I don’t want to be left behind, but I certainly don’t want to jump at the first opportunity to come along.  So where do I go from here?  Honestly, I have no idea, but I better get to work before I discover some other show that sets me back 40 or 50 years.

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~ by James on October 17, 2011.

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