016: Ode To Your Childhood

Love poems to items from the past

You may know that AARP is an organization that advocates on behalf of people 50 and over. Their mission is “to empower people to choose how they live as they age.”

But their Instagram channel actually targets a slightly younger audience: Generation X. It features profiles of Gen Xers today, and nostalgic content about life in the 70s, 80s, and 90s.

I’ve written some humorous nostalgic poems for AARP’s Instagram channel. I took things from your childhood that are unlikely to have been taken seriously enough for poems to be written about them before (like, say, library book pocket cards) and finally given them the poetic love poems they deserve, with tongue planted a bit in cheek.

To add a bit of gravitas, each poem is read by Josh Davis, known for portraying Javert in the North American touring production of Les Miserables.

We made a fun video for each one. I wish I could embed video in a newsletter, but I can’t. So I’ll ask that for the full effect you click through each one to watch them in all their moving glory. (And if you’re a Gen Xer, subscribe to the channel while you’re there!)

Ode to Floppy Disks

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You carried my school papers and my favorite PC games.

You stored them all as files with inscrutable names.

A megabyte and a half was all each disk could hold,

So when I got a CD-ROM drive I left you out in the cold.

But the humble floppy disk will live on for a while

As an icon that unbelievably still means “Save File”

Ode to Mixtapes

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My boombox had two tape decks back in the day.

One for RECORD and the other for PLAY.

I put a blank tape in the one on the right

And I gathered my favorite tracks with delight.

I had the perfect lineup for Side A of the cassette:

Duran Duran, Madonna, Prince, and Joan Jett.

Then Pet Shop Boys, Eurythmics, Wang Chung, Shelia E.,

With Springsteen and The Cars saved for Side B.

On the cardboard insert I listed each song

Ending the mix with “Don’t Get Me Wrong.”

Then suddenly, while playing “Living on a Prayer,”

The tape ribbon broke and got stuck in the player.

Ode to Rubik’s Cube

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Oh, how you confounded me with all your colored squares.

I twisted you in every way with frustrations and despairs.

Finally, I got you solved. I learned your patterns all by heart.

Okay, I lied. The truth is that I took you all apart.

Ode to 80s Candy

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I rode my bike to the store with two bucks in my wallet

To buy some Pop Rocks and a Whatchamacallit.

But then I saw Bottle Caps, Fun Dip, Lemonheads,

Pixy Stix, Gobstoppers, Now and Laters, and Pez.

With so many choices, how could I commit?

Maybe Candy Cigarettes? No, I was trying to quit.

I finally decided. I bought Mike & Ike.

Then I tossed back some Nerds and got back on my bike.

Ode to Library Book Pocket Cards

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When I went to the library and checked out a book,

I'd open the cover and that's where I'd look

To see you there holding the card with the date

When the book was due back so it wouldn't be late.

But now libraries are digital and you're analog,

So you've gone the way of the card catalog.

Ode to 80s PSAs

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The crash test dummies on TV always made me chuckle

As they smashed their heads through windshields to remind me I should buckle.

Smokey Bear protected forests against fiery dangers.

McGruff the Crime Dog told me to never ride with strangers.

Friends don't let friends drive home after drinking.

“Give a hoot — don’t pollute” was Woodsy Owl's thinking.

And who could forget the one where the man

Compared your brain on drugs to an egg in a pan?

To all the PSAs that taught me what to do,

I just want to say thanks. I learned it by watching you.

Ode to VHS

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Long before Blu-Ray and DVD,

We used VHS tapes to watch films on TV.

I set the VCR output to channel 3 or 2,

And if everything worked then my screen would turn blue.

At the video store, despite my intent,

It took me forever to decide what to rent.

Should I get Caddyshack, Tootsie, Platoon, Uncle Buck,

Goodfellas, Splash, Top Gun, or Moonstruck?

The movie I chose was due back in the morning,

So I fast-forwarded past the FBI warning.

The next day, to make sure I didn’t get fined,

I always made sure to be kind and rewind.

I bought my favorite films. My collection was complete.

Until a new format came that made VHS obsolete.

With better picture and sound, I took a big risk

And I bought them all again on Laserdisc.

A New Poem Tomorrow

Another one of my poems is posting on their Instagram channel tomorrow. This one isn’t in the Odes series, but is a tribute to classic holiday movies of the 80s. I call it Movie Night Before Christmas. Watch for it.

Happy Holidays

I’ll be taking a break this week so no newsletter next week. Have a good Christmas if that’s what you celebrate, and I’ll see you in two weeks!


P.S. I should probably mention here that this is in no way an official communication from AARP, and nothing I said here should be considered as coming from them.