There just seemed to be something missing from life lately, like some enclosed feeling that I was having and I was just feeling like everything is like, too on top of me, too many people and flashing of advertisements everywhere and all the fakeness of doublespeak and passive aggressiveness and participation medals. Like I was getting crushed by the over commercialization of everything, and of the protective shield that society has placed over all of us to make sure that nobody is hurt or offended in any way.
It was much better in the 1970’s and 1980’s. We jumped our bikes over ramps(sometimes over a small fire) like Evel Knievel, and we all had pocket knives and our parents had no idea where any of us where. You learned on your own and solved problems on your own.
So I'm going along wondering just what life's all about and why things are the way that they are today, and I decided to take the family to a western theme park that I haven't been to in forever, since I was a little kid in the 1970’s, Frontier Town. It's right near Assateague Island in Maryland. I wasn't expecting much. You know, the memories of your youth get fuzzy sometimes and maybe it wasn't so great and maybe just going there is going to screw up the memories that you had of the place.
I was pleasantly surprised. Basically, this trip to Frontier town was a trip back in time. A trip back to a simpler time before the commercialization of all that is holy took over, First thing, they had a big old gunfight on main street right in front of us. And the guns were loud, The shotgun is a shotgun filled with blanks. And when it went off, people jumped out of their seats. But there wasn’t someone passing out ear protection, there wasn't anyone putting up ropes to keep you from walking into the fray. It was just OK, time for a gunfight. And the bad guys got shot dead, hell, even the good guy got shot dead. And then we went into a shop because, now, my kids had to have some guns, there were tons of cap pistols and knives and leather goods. And there was an older gentleman who worked there who went over all of the guns, which one is the loudest, and he was so pleasant and not rushed that you thought the time machine must have got to him too, Back to a time when folks assumed ownership in the place that they worked and weren’t in such a damn hurry to get nowhere or to look at their phone,. And then there was a train ride with a hold up by some outlaws and there was a bank holdup with more shooting and then there was a trial where they actually sentenced one of the outlaws to get three dunks in a pond. And so we all walked over to this oxbow of some creek or river, covered with algae. And they put the outlaw on the end of a long log/seesaw and dunked him over and over again into the real water. I mean, it was just some tepid pond water and the seesaw that the guy was at the end of was actually being controlled by real people pushing on the log,and dunking him and bringing him up and dunking him and repeating.
And then we went to the “Indian Village” where there were Native American folks who actually taught you how to shoot a real re curve bow and arrow and actually taught you how to throw a real tomahawk also. Real, like severely wound you real. And there wasn't any signs to do any of this at your own risk, it was just a given that the teachers knew how to teach the skill and they trusted you and it was real. I keep thinking about the realness of the whole thing, and maybe there is a better word for it, but everywhere you go today, everything is just watered down and sanitized and oh , you must be careful of this and watch your step here, and by agreeing to do this, you are absolving us of blame. It all contributes to this “be careful” mentality that contributes to our kids being so tentative about everything. It's a hot stove, don't touch it. Oh, you touched it? And you got burned? I told you not to touch the stove. And the gun and knife thing, My 7 year old wanted to buy a tiny plastic grenade and put it on his backpack for school. I told him that no way would school let him wear it. Nobody would mistake it for anything real, but I knew that they would shut the school down and my son would be disciplined if he wore it.
When I was in school, everyone would have been like, oh cool, a grenade! I mean, my one son drew a knife in first grade and the teachers freaked out. They approached me in the hallway and were like, Mr. Steel may we have a word? We just wanted to tell you that your son DREW A KNIFE ON A PIECE OF PAPER TODAY! I looked at them and told them that I would take care of it, and I did, I told my son that there was nothing wrong with drawing a freaking picture of a knife, but that the world that you live in is a soft ass place where the soft people make the rules and they feel threatened by everything because they are so far removed from real life, so sanitized and paranoid and they have lost touch with nature because they have never killed their food before and they think that the beef that they eat comes from a grocery store, not from a real animal that had to be slaughtered so that they can have their Fourth of July barbecue. In other words my son, there wasn’t anything wrong with what you did, but don't draw any knives in school, because people don't get it. The next day, the teachers asked my son, what did your dad do to you for drawing the knife? And he said that I had done nothing about it. They were incredulous. And they are out of touch with reality.
So my kids and a bunch of kids shot arrows and loud cap guns and threw tomahawks and watched gunfights and there wasn’t one “enter at your own risk” sign and there wasn't any Nike on Under Armour sponsorship signs anywhere. That was great. We are inundated with this corporate bullshit. And I write this while I’m wearing a Yeti shirt and Huk Fishing Gear shorts. I'm guilty also, wearing advertisements for the big corporations. Inundated.
We finished with some Native American dancing and in the one dance, the male simulated stalking and killing an animal, and miraculously, nobody in the audience was triggered or had to leave for counseling.
I needed that trip to Frontier town. I was questioning a bunch of stuff before I went there. It transported me back to a time when you could speak more freely (You can't say that!) and there wasn't a harness or a leash on kids and guns were something that you learned about as a little boy and you learned to respect them, not freak out about them.