The Art Of Misremembering

I hate clichés.

Granted, not as much as I hate war, racism or gun violence. Those tragic trinkets of humankind’s diary are far worse propositions than a betrayal of original thought ever could be. I could never hate clichés as much as I hate the undeserving slice of American niche that Applebee’s broadens its britches on. And the only reason I don’t hate the unimaginable popularity of Jim Belushi more is because that magical marquee of a last name keeps his vastly more talented older brother in the building.

Still, clichés crook my nook. They nada my colada. Clichés are the better ideas gone stillborn. And they are everywhere; from our favorite team’s aversion to success to some wealthy ass-hat’s predictable relationships to sayings that really should have been left unsaid.

Those were simpler times

You don’t hear this one a lot more today, you simply hear it as often as you probably heard it say, twenty years ago. Or forty, depending on your age. Your parents heard it a shit ton themselves. And believe it or not, your grandparents . . yeah, they heard it plenty.

I’m fairly certain I’ve uttered these words before and I’m even more certain that I hate myself for having done so. Because it’s candy coated pretense that’s being served up in artificially flavored past tense by someone yapping in the present tense and that is way too much tense for the empty calories it’s supplying. To put it nicely, whenever someone bemoans our present circumstances by waxing poetically about our past, they are being insincere. To put it less nicely, they’re lying their ass off. The only thing worse than the bemoaners are the piners. Because while the former group is merely being expressively unsophisticated, the piners are just being whiny. Or winey. And sometimes . . . both.

Listen, we sure as shit are up against it these days. Everything is way more expensive and way less dependable. Cities are under siege, most of our leaders have eloped with Becky Sharp and the Doomsday Clock now sits a scantily clad ninety-seconds away from Boom, sans the Shaka Laka.

The fine print on our day to day business ain’t beautiful, but that doesn’t mean the rearview was all sushi and Rembrandt. Take for instance, the middle ages where almost a quarter of the population was broke. Back then, most people celebrated their thirtieth birthday by being dead. In the 1800’s, people buried half their clan on cross-country road trips and it was considered a success! The early 20th century was a brave new world unless you were a toddler, since the child mortality rate sat at a robust thirty percent. If you were lucky enough to make it to your tenth birthday, you celebrated by going to work in a factory and if that didn’t kill you either, welp . . scoring a fake ID on your 14th birthday so’s you could join the Great War? Probably did. If you made it through that shit storm of an existence, you had the Great Depression to look forward to.

The point is, things were never simple. Hell, most of the peeps who write love letters to the past probably didn’t even live through it, and if they were alive, they’ve probably forgotten all the terrible shit they went through. And do you know why they forgot it? Because they were busy thinking about how much simpler the future was going to be. A little too ironic . . .

Don’t cha think?


26 thoughts on “The Art Of Misremembering

  1. Seems to me that cliches are a window into a reflective perspective of the past. And these days when everyone thinks the world actually cares about their opinion, to hear the comparisons to the ‘good ole days’ just seems exhausting and more than slightly annoying. Have we really devolved into repeating the past in deed as well as observing it? Are there no truly new observations or are we just a bunch of lazy twerps bent on simply ‘rebranding’ everything into something purported to be new when in fact it’s as old as dirt? Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I too have a problem with clichés. Don’t we have the brain power for anything new these days? And as for the past… Hindsight is 2020 and we wear rose-colored glasses. We don’t see the past as it was, we see it as we think it should have been. We should have learned our lessons then so we don’t make the same mistakes now.

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  3. B

    Brilliant prose as I’ve come to expect from you. Thought-provoking and downright on the button, I say. Some clichés have been used and abused for too long (this one, especially; and yes, I am guilty of having used it).

    You know Aristotle also said “kids these days are so rude”… We have this desire to believe that it was simpler then because it makes today all the more justifiable to whinge and complain. A load of bollocks, that is. Things seemed better to us because we look at them with our memories that have become blurry over time.

    The only thing simpler back then? (And you can go back as far as you like.) Nothing. Each generation has its own set of challenges and rules for dealing with things and cannot be compared.

    And your last paragraph is the perfect synopsis! Don’t we all work at trying to create a simpler future for ourselves and our kids?

    Wonderful song. I hadn’t heard that one.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Q

      Why thank you bebe.

      Yeah, I have used it, and them . . more than I really should have. It’s easy. Clichés are like the fast food of words.

      Aristotle said that? No wonder he was a man so ahead of his time! And yeah, those glasses deceive us and those memories aren’t to be trusted.

      Nothing. That’s exactly right, nothing is. Every era, every generation is unique.

      Right? That’s what we’re always doing, talking about the future and hoping it will be simpler than today.

      Yeah, for Andy Rourke.


      Liked by 1 person

  4. You’re right, there has always been plenty of trouble in this world, just different kinds and different times. It helps us to remember that when we feel that, once again, we’re on the verge of everything going to hell in a hand basket. If our ancestors could soldier on, so can we.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Interesting!
    I get it.

    Lately many I know have been “Simpler timing” it by saying how great post WWII was. They hail the joys of life in the 50’s & 60’s. How can they say that? Most weren’t born until the 60’s or 70’s.
    They point out all this good stuff of the simpler time: the music, the Movie Stars, the “Happy Days” life, everyone could buy a house, a car lasted until the kids grew up, the joys of life before computers, no political correctness,….. newspapers … Woodstock … only 3 tv stations

    Yes… it’s all very nice I say, but the black population in the USA did not get the absolute right to vote until 1965, women burned the bra in 1968 starting the second phase of the feminist movement, Vietnam did not end until 1975 and some of America’s children were slain by the military at Kent State in 1970.

    All I seem to get when I say that is – Hmmm…pf.


    Liked by 1 person

    • This is exactly right Resa. Those good old days weren’t always so great. So many people suffered because of their sex or the color of their skin or their ethnicity or their mental aptitude or . . . on and on it goes and yes, in the end, there were some very good things about the time, but there was plenty of darkness. I don’t know why people take it so personally when we point this out.


      Liked by 1 person

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