G.I. Joe Made Me Afraid of Refrigerators

Growing up in the eighties, we had access to some of the best cartoons ever. G.I. Joe, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Thundercats, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and so on. On most of the programs I watched, there was a public service announcement (or PSA) at the end of every episode. These usually involved things like, “Stealing is wrong,” “Don’t do drugs,” or “Playing with matches is dangerous.” To me, most of these seemed quite obvious, but there was one that made me terrified of refrigerators for years. Basically, a group of kids were trying to find their friend, John. A G.I. Joe named Recondo just happens to be walking through and asks what’s going on. The children explain the situation and Recondo looks over to see an old refrigerator, and immediately assumes he’s in there (and he was right). Opening the door, Recondo finds John suffocating. The PSA never explains why John was in the fridge; we’re simply left to make our own assumptions about what led to this event.

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What the hell was he even doing in there? The world will never know.

You see, growing up when I did, I had no concept of a latching refrigerator. Every refrigerator I had ever seen and used worked the same way we do today. Open the door, get what you need, and when you close it the suction keeps it closed. Simple as that. I had no knowledge that a few decades prior, refrigerators were held closed by a latch that was released when you pulled the handle. When the door was closed, the latch simply fell back into place. And the time when I was growing up was when it more and more common for these refrigerators to be discarded.

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Beware! It’s lust for blood holds no boundries.

Once I saw that PSA, I knew that every time I went for food, I was playing a dangerous game, risking my life for a glass of milk or a delicious strawberry. I would swing the door open as wide as I could, grab what I needed, and leap out of the way before it would close. It wasn’t until sometime later that I decided to get over my fears once and for all. One day when my friend Rob was over and my mother hadn’t done the grocery shopping yet, I decided to take out the shelves and get in the fridge. I told him if I started banging on the door to open it up. So I got and he closed the door. Once sealed inside, I pushed the door back open with ease. I was elated. Refrigerators weren’t dangerous at all. Those guys on G.I. Joe were so stupid. What else were they wrong about? Downed power cables? Swimming in lightning storms? Surely if they had the refrigerator thing wrong, they must be wrong about other things too. Or maybe, they had teamed up with parents for some scare tactics. Contacting childrens cartoons to make kids obey sounds just like the sort of thing parents would do.

It was a few years later when I actually learned about latching refrigerators. Suddenly the PSA made a lot more sense to me. Thankfully, I never did get injured pushing againts the warnings of other PSAs, though I think I did go swimming in a lightning storm. That is until I saw a tree nearby. As we all know, lightnight loves trees and trees love water.

 

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Look at it there, waiting to kill.

I Fancied a Barbie Once

I had a Barbie doll once. I’d actually asked my mother for one. I wasn’t queer or effeminate or anything. The other side just had something that I didn’t and I wanted to know what the deal was. All the girls had them and seemed to love them, so clearly there was something cool about them and I was determined to find out what it was.

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It’s gotta be the shopping for accessories. Look at those pants!

So when I got one, I took it with me totally unashamed. In a time when being either a nerd or having a Barbie doll would get your ass kicked, I incredibly made it through unscathed as I was both was a nerd and carried a Barbie. Perhaps it was my gaze that kept people from taunting and dolling out endless wedgies. As I combed her hair and changed her outfits, my look was not one of joy and amusement but one of science and determination.

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FOR SCIENCE!

Alas, through all my study, I never discovered the joy that could be had in Barbies or dolls in general. Disinterested and unamused, the doll went to the wayside. I honestly don’t recall doing anything else with it, though I feel as though I would’ve had much more joy with it had I decapitated the damn thing. In fact, I hope I did, though I cannot say for certain whether I did or not.

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And totally would’ve been at the hands of Storm Shadow.

With a second child on the way, if it turns out to be a boy whom I shall teach manly things, I worry about the time when he too yearns to decapitate Barbie dolls. For my daughter loves dolls and even has a Barbie. How shall I react when the time comes to wrestle with my desire to defend my daughter from terror and horror and my delight in destruction of all things not manly. Oh, the struggles we must face as parents.

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Like “Should I put that money towards my child’s education or build that life size replica of Abe Lincoln out of ravioli.” What would make Jesus more proud? Does he even like ravioli or does he prefer tuna?

Duck & Cover

Most young adults today are much to young to remember to the Cold War, yet since they are perhaps the most vocal crowd in media, it’d be easy to for them forget that it wasn’t that long ago the Cold War came to an end. Less than twenty-five years ago, actually. The Cold War was a magical time of spies, espionage, no actual war, and constant threat of nuclear annihilation.

As a child growing up in the eighties, the Soviets were always our biggest fear. The world maps in our classrooms didn’t help matters any. Every country was color coded so that you could distinctly discern borders. Looking at a map you would see lots of small colors and then there would be this giant red mass labeled U.S.S.R. That thing was terrifying and the only thing keeping us safe from the Ruskies was ocean. And then we learned about the Bering Strait and realized that they could attack us from Canada if they so desired.

terror map

This is what a map made entirely out of terror looks like.

The movie Red Dawn didn’t help things any either. I hadn’t even seen the movie at that point and yet there were many times I worried that I’d look out the window and see Russian paratroopers falling out of the sky. Remember, this was a plausible scenario back then. We already knew that there were Commie spies among us; we just didn’t know when they’d strike. Thankfully, we could take solace knowing that Patrick Swayze and Sylvester Stallone would be there to save us should things ever go down. That is if they didn’t drop the bomb on us first.

This being the Cold War, the possibility of nuclear winter was always a reality. The federal government made sure we were all prepared in case such an event happened. As elementary school students, we learned the importance of Duck and Cover. What’s that, you may ask. Duck and Cover is what you were to do in case of a nuclear attack. While you may all be familiar with fire drills, we had nuclear bomb drills. There was even an alarm for it. When the alarm would go off, we would stop what we were doing and hide underneath our desks. The drills were common enough that I can remember looking nervously out the window of my classroom at the water tower and expecting to see a mushroom cloud in the distance. The real terror came if we had a fire drill and had to run outside to a designated area in an orderly fashion. What if the Ruskies had decided to drop a bomb then? There were no desks to protect us. Why the school never had like five giant sized desks outside I’ll never know. Underfunding I suppose.

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No joke, this would save your life from a nuclear explosion. Don’t you dare question it!

Speaking of underfunding, I never realized just how underfunded the school system was until the Cold War ended. At the beginning of every school year up until freshman year of high school I think it was, out teachers would point to the big red spot on the map and say “By the way, that doesn’t exist anymore.” For the record, I started high school in 1996. 1996 and we still had maps that depicted the Soviet Union. When they were finally replaced, it seemed so surreal. No longer was there a big red menace casting it’s shadow on the world. Instead, there was just Russia and the world suddenly seemed a bit more open.

I’ve heard stories that Vladimir Putin is trying to bring the former Soviet countries back into Russia’s fold. Perhaps they have a lot of old maps that they still haven’t replaced yet. If this happens, I hope they at least have the good sense to call it the Soviet Reunion. I’d hate to see them blow an opportunity like that.

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“Hey, let’s get the gang back together and start Cold War 2: Cold Harder.”

My First Beer and then Some

I had my first beer around the age of two or three years old. I believe it was Budweiser and my dad had set his down and I asked if I could have a sip. Knowing full well that I wouldn’t like it, my dad said yes and as he correctly predicted, it was the nastiest thing I’d ever tasted in my life.

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Not what I’d call a quality beer.

I didn’t try beer again until sometime when I was a teenager. My friend Andrew’s family lived in an old house that previous tenants had passed away in. In the barn, we found all sorts of cool stuff. One of those cool things we found was a can of beer that was dated somewhere between the 1930s and 1940s. Wow, what a cool gem this was. It was still perfectly sealed and everything. Had we been smart and not stupid teenagers, we would’ve tried to see it for a pretty penny. Instead, being stupid teenagers, we had other ideas.

“Hey,” said Andrew. “I heard beer gets better with age.”

Well, that was all the motivation I needed. We popped that can open and each took some big swigs of that over half a century old beer.

Beer does not get better with age. That’s wine. Beer, in fact, gets worse with age.

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There’s a reason all beers now have an “enjoy by” date on them.

Disappointed with our find, I didn’t drink beer for quite some time again after that deeming beer to just flat out be nasty.

When I was fifteen, my family was entertaining for some guests. There were mixed drinks to be had and I saw that my family was using rum. I casually asked my second father (my first one passed away) if I could have a shot. Though I don’t think he ever met my birth father, he apparently had the same thinking. Knowing full will that I would not like this unmixed, he gave me a shot with no mix or chaser. Well, that shot of rum burned going down and I ran to the bathroom for water to get the nasty taste out of my mouth. It wasn’t until sometime later that rum could be a tolerable experience with some Coca-Cola. Live and learn as they say.

When I got my first apartment, the previous tenants had left a Budweiser in the fridge. Yep, still nasty as I had remembered. For a while after that I simply stuck to rum and wine coolers. You know the stuff, Smirnoff Ice and Bacardi Silver. Yes, there is much shame admitting that. Then, after I had turned twenty-one, my uncle offered me a Sam Adams Light. I was impressed. It didn’t taste like crap. In fact, it tasted good. Shortly after that I tried a Boston Lager and fell in love. I learned that beer didn’t have to be nasty or an acquired taste. It could in fact be quite delicious.

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Turns out Samuel Adams always really is a good decision.

From that single Sam Adams, my pallet expanded immensely. I learned there was a whole world of amazing flavors out there. A local pub served a solid black stout every winter called the Viking Plunder that was 11.5% alcohol. It was amazing. Sadly, the brewery that made it no longer exists.

Some years after drinking beer exclusively, my friend and I saw some Smirnoff Ice in the store and we decided to grab some for old times. Oh it was so damn sweet. How did we ever drink that to begin with?

My pallet has refined itself quite a lot over the years. I consider myself an IPA man, the more hops, the better. And I love a whiskey on the rocks. Whenever I’m in a new town, I always try to sample the local flavor, but if I can’t find something new or just need something classic, I always go back to that Samuel Adams Boston Lager. When it comes to beer, that was my first love. I love my IPAs (especially from Stone), but a Boston Lager is the perfect any beer. Always perfect for whatever the occasion. Cheers.

I’m Drinkin’ Beer

My little brother was only a few months old, so that means I was eight and in the second grade. Mary, my babysitter and best friend’s mom had a film crew over that day to film a commercial for her daycare. They were recording us throughout the day to get good shots for the commercial. Mary had the incredible task of caring for a large group of children while carrying my little brother around and filming a commercial all at the same time. I got special mention in the commercial as I was the first kid she took care of which started the whole daycare thing. If you think I didn’t use that special mention to my fullest potential, then you’ve got another thing coming.

Mary had a small bar in the kitchen surrounded by stools. It was snack time and kids were running round with their sugar biscuits having the fun that only small children can have with a sugar biscuit. Me, I was just calmly sitting at the bar drinking my cup of apple juice and minding my own business. This being a fairly quiet part of the room, Mary had brought the camera crew over do some talking about the daycare. She was holding my little brother and said something to the effect of, “This is Brad’s little brother. Now Brad was the first child I took care of.” Those weren’t the exact words, but that was the basic gist of it.

Anyhow, as the camera panned down to me, I turned and looked right into the camera. With a big confident smile, I raised my clear plastic cup full of a golden-yellow apple juice high above my head and proudly proclaimed, “I’m drinkin’ Beer!”

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Beer, apparently.

I believe Mary choked on the air. Incredibly, she did not drop my little brother.

Anyhow, the rest of the commercial was filmed throughout the day and I believe they wisely kept me away from the camera if I recall correctly. My grand scene did not make the final cut that aired on TV, but I do believe that Mary does have an unedited copy of it somewhere. I should see if I can get a hold of that.