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You’re so Camden…

Posted: August 8, 2014 12:54 p.m.
Updated: August 11, 2014 6:00 a.m.

The late, great Lewis Grizzard, my literary hero and a great American, once said that he disliked and distrusted all technology -- and by his definition, technology was anything he could not eat, drink or wear.

I don’t know if I’m that bad about it -- if for no other reason than in this business you just have to adapt no matter how idiotic the subject of or reason for adaptation -- but I’ve never sat down to learn any of this stuff “just because.”

So I hate admitting to things like having a presence on Facebook. The curmudgeon in me says it’s only for business -- to promote my books, my band, my freelancing activities. But the reality is that I’m just like everyone else there -- I find it nice to catch up with old friends, even if some of them are from distant points in the past. Some of it is pure voyeurism, some of it morbid curiosity, some of it guilty pleasure. In other words, there should not be a sentimental bone in my body, and yet…

While I really do hate all those invitations to play idiotic games, “Like” the social conscience talking point du jour, or pass on the same recycled internet conspiracy theories, hoaxes, and urban legends that make up most postings floating out there in the online affluent, something recently came up that was at first annoying, then addicting, then pretty cool.

As I grew up in Camden, many if not most of my Facebook friends are from here. Recently -- and I don’t know if this was something started by Facebook itself or just an idea from someone who happened to have way too much time on their hands that week -- I started seeing posts beginning with the phrase, “I’m so Camden that…” followed by some childhood memory.

Before you could say, “JT likes this,” there was a massive and happy traffic jam on Memory Lane.

It comes back to the old saw: you can take the boy out of Camden but you can’t take Camden out of the boy. Too much history. Too many memories. Thankfully, too much fun and lots of love. Good times get better; bad times more humorous.

All kinds of references popped up, from best burgers to good times at Lake Wateree to favorite teachers to significant early life events.

“I’m so Camden I remember being on the Mr. Knozit show for my birthday!”

Of course, there were references to nefarious activities.

“I’m so Camden I remember when our hangout was the sand lot next to the Dusty Bend carwash and we called it “The Beach!”

Of course, one of my favorites was a punch line to a post I made about an item I received in the mail -- kids, that’s snail mail placed in that tall object in front of the house by the driveway, an antique communication technology that is apparently falling by the wayside along with such items as television antennae and landline telephones.

“I’m so Camden, I remember when Jimmy Tatum was too young to be a member of AARP!”

All this brings me back to something of the original point I started with earlier. That is, as much as I dislike and distrust it, thanks to this instant gratification technology, we can connect with each other, from any point in life from anywhere on earth.

In a way, we’ve all become Billy Pilgrim, all of us unstuck in time.

A few years back, I laughed when my niece and nephew couldn’t figure out the rotary dial telephones in my mom’s house. Think Michael J. Fox trying to twist off the top of a Coke bottle in “Back to the Future.”

Yet now I can’t remember the last time I used, much less even saw, a land line phone, rotary or otherwise. I haven’t seen a pay phone booth in years. Because I’m inclined to weird thoughts, it occasionally makes me wonder where Superman would change out of his leisure suit and into his spandex today -- and if he would get arrested for being a flasher in the process.

I haven’t had a land line telephone in years, and technologically speaking, I really don’t need a computer anymore. Even though I need help from the nearest 4-year-old to figure out all the bells and whistles, my phone does it all. That’s exciting -- and just a little demoralizing.

But then I go back to that “I’m so Camden” thing, and great memories -- none of which require a cell phone -- come flooding back.

Back then, we had plenty to do without wasting time with video games. Our parents didn’t need GPS devices or play dates to know where we were and with whom; to find a group of neighborhood kids all anyone had to do was look for a pack of dogs and a lot of bicycles. We didn’t wear fancy shoes, crash helmets or sunscreen. We rode bikes double, played in creeks and mud puddles, engaged in pine cone fights and learned to cuss and spit playing in the woods day in and day out without the slightest fear of serial killers and zombie cannibals.

There was no such thing as a “helicopter parent,” only “those” people who spoiled their kids horribly.

Hmmm … I’m so Camden I remember when you actually had to do the work to get an “A,” or make the team, or get a trophy.

I’m so Camden, indeed.

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