Coffee Break: Those were the days

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on August 5, 2019 - August 11, 2019.
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Did you read about the lady who was killed by her metal straw? It went right through her eye when she fell on the eco-friendly suction device.

And now, there are calls to ban metal straws. Did I hear someone say, “Cars kill too, do we stop driving?” (The same goes for planes, mobile phones, chainsaws, knives and just about anything, really.)

A rejoinder to that could be, “So, we kill people but save turtles?”

Actually, I have a nagging suspicion that all the plastics saved from banning straws are being diverted to food delivery packaging materials.

This is where an emoji with a quizzical look would be inserted if this were Twitter or some other social media platforms.

Since it’s not, this piece has to find its way to continue and fill up the page with text.

Yes, dear reader, I’m afraid this could be just like an episode of Seinfeld, which many Gen Xers would remember, is supposedly a show about nothing in particular.

But of course, it isn’t a show about nothing, just as this isn’t a piece devoid of purpose. Seinfeld is a show about dysfunctional friendships and bizarre but often funny everyday things that happen in life. It is the pre-cursor of Friends, and comparisons between the two continue until today.

The show was set in a time when life was simpler, when there were predominantly only two genders, among other things, and there was no social media to complicate the issues — it was a time when the word “viral” was used in the context of diseases and viruses.

What did we do before the internet and smartphones?

Before Google, how did we manage to solve random brainteasers that pop up during dinner conversations, such as, “What is the name of the actor who played so and so in this and that”, “Which country won the World Cup in 1974?” or “Which is the tallest building in the world?”

Do you remember a time before Google when there was Yahoo and Ask Jeeves? Even these seem like ages ago. But in case you’re curious, the Yahoo search engine still exists and Ask Jeeves is now Ask.

Oh, and we read books and newspapers. You know, the non-tablet things filled with words and pictures on pages that you can flip and fold? I wonder if anyone still dabs her fingers on her tongue to flip newspapers?

And back in those days, you actually paid back your student loans — no ifs or buts.

Having said that, some days feel like 1998.

Well, the ringgit is still in the dog house, the stock market is not getting much love, what a politician did behind closed doors is still making headlines and factions of the ruling government — a few of them the same characters under different banners — are at each other’s throats.

One of the things noticeably missing is the haze, although that could change, depending on how the wind blows.

I hope that we are not caught in an endless time loop like in Groundhog Day. You know, the movie where the protagonist — who happens to be a weatherman — repeats and relives the same day over and over again until … well, go watch the movie.

Over the weekend, I saw my little nephew amuse himself by clambering onto a stool and shouting “oooohhhhhh” and “aaaaahhhh” into the blades of a running stand fan. He seemed both fascinated and tickled by how his voice got distorted by the fan.

I looked at my cousin and we both smiled. Yes, we used to do that as kids before the arrival of Game Boys, Atari,  iPads and such, when some creativity was required as we whiled the hours away until TV transmission started at 5pm.

Certain things haven’t changed but dear God, let’s hope the current breed of people in power wise up.