A number of years ago, a book came out called Everything in its Place, written by Marc Summers, a man who most people my age will remember as the host of the popular Nickelodeon game-show Double Dare. What a great show! Every day, I could see two teams compete in some of the messiest, most disgusting things imaginable. Sometimes they had to search through giant pancakes dripping with butter and syrup, or dive into a tank full of slime and swim across to the other side. And Summers, my hero, was never afraid to get right in there with them, diving into the slime right along side them or letting contestants throw eggs at him. I always said he was a 10-year-old trapped in a 30-year-old body, and I loved him for it.
In the early nineties, Summers confessed to being obsessive-compulsive, thus the title of his book. Turns out that as soon as the cameras stopped rolling, he'd peel off his clothes and jump right in the shower, trying desperately to get the filth off himself. His condition forced him to strive for excellence, but it also made every day on the set hell for him. He's not a 10-year-old trapped in a 30-year-old body after all. Watching him, though, was always great for me, and the truth is, I miss it.
I miss a lot of things about those days. Everything seemed simpler then. I got up every morning and drank a cup of hot chocolate before school while I sat in front of the heater vent. I walked to school in the crisp morning air and spent a day studying hard with a group of people who I was proud to call my friends. After school, I'd go hang out with one of them, and we'd whack a soccer ball around the backyard with sticks or play Metroid on my NES. We'd watch shows like Double Dare and marvel at this man, more than three times our age, who could connect so well with the younger generation, and we longed to be contestants on the show.
We talked about who we were going to dress up as for Halloween, and what we wanted for Christmas. When that season ended, we discussed what great plans we had for the summer, usually something involving water parks and staying up late watching TV while eating junk food. We devised methods of spending as little time as possible on homework while still getting it done, and ways to make our parents let us stay out for an extra hour.
Maybe it's just nostalgia talking, but things seemed simpler then. Better, too. No complications. I knew who my friends were, I knew what I'd be doing the next day, and I knew what I wanted the whole rest of my life to look like. Just like the title of Summers's book, everything was in its place.