Homing in on the range

As Rosanne Rosannadanna says, it’s always something.

(Disclaimer: If you aren’t old enough to remember Rosanne Rosannadanna, the next sentences will make no sense.) When people of my generation were kids, that “something” was the threat of a nuclear attack from Russia. We were told we were in the impact zone because Wright Patterson Air Force Base is so close. Everyone just knew Wright Patt had a big ol’ check mark by it on some priority list in some Moscow briefing room. We had nuclear attack drills. I am not making this up. The drill consisted of cowering under your wooden school desk and covering your head with your arms. Wooden desks and skinny 6-year-old arms are noted defenses against the hydrogen bomb. And does it work? This is the same type of thinking parachutists use…what do you do if both the main and reserve chutes fail? While you’re in free fall, you gather the shrouds and the uselessly flapping parachutes in your arms and fling them back into your slipstream. And does THIS work? No, but it gives you something to do with the last seven seconds of your life.

In high school, when we weren’t fretting about the latest visit from Aunt Acne, the “something” among the less evolved among us was concern about being one of the cool kids. Being a cool kid at my school was desperately important. I got the last laugh however because all the cool kids are now old enough to be grandparents. (Please do not harsh my buzz by stating the obvious.) Today I can’t remember why it was so vital to be cool. The kids who were considered cool didn’t turn out any better than the rest of us. In some cases, being cool as a teenager translated directly into being a, pardon my technical language here, whack-a-doodle adult.

High school was also filled with the usual angst about getting into the college of your dreams, having a date to the prom, and procuring the very best fake ID possible. These three concerns are not necessarily in the order of importance.

College had its own trials, most notably finding a roommate compatible enough to live with. I went through three roommates in two weeks and ended up with a former cloistered nun who could not have cared less if she was a cool kid. She was smart, funny, and had the inside track on praying to pass pop physiology quizzes.

The real world intruded about five minutes after graduation. The real world held real problems: deciding on a career, deciding whether to get married, deciding whether to have children, deciding that the real world wasn’t, as Dorothy Parker mused, the endless circle of song it was cracked up to be. But we thought we had it made. We worked, we retired, we discovered pickleball and tax-free municipal bonds. Except for choosing a denture adhesive and an adult undergarment, all the knuckle-biting was supposed to be behind us.

But wait! There’s more! We have a brand-new “something” to test our ulcer medicine. I have it on good authority this really is a thing and the thing is … range anxiety which has nothing to do with picking out a different stove. No, this malady affects people driving electric cars who are entirely focused on where the next charging station is. A friend of mine was selling his early-production electric car. It had a range of eighty miles. He could not figure out how to get it to the purchaser (part of the deal) in southeast Ohio. In what he describes as “the worst day” of his life, the journey entailed many stops, much swearing, and ultimately, a tow truck. It seemed to me that was a pretty low threshold for “worst day” honors to a guy who has been divorced three times but I was smart enough not to mention it.

What I wasn’t smart enough to do was keep Ronald Reagan’s “evil empire” in mind when I bought a house. I’ve moved even closer to Wright Patt and Russia’s missile-launch button is in the hands of one of those whack-a-doodle adults we referred to. Luckily, I brought a wooden desk with me.

Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for Miami Valley Today