This past weekend, I watched parts of a Jurassic Park Marathon. To be honest, I’m not sure any sane human being could sit through all four movies in a row. The cinematic spectacles, involved thousands of animatronic, and computer-generated dinosaurs, hot and humid tropical islands, tons of dinosaur poop, and dozens of clueless and intellectually challenged people whose sole purpose was to provide entertainment, and a readily available food source for ravenous, prehistoric predators.
Actually, most of the movie plots were very similar. It’s a surprisingly simple formula by film studios to achieve a steady flow of loyal customers, and enormous box office receipts. All four movies revolve around people, either running and screaming, or screaming and running from extremely hungry dinosaurs in various shapes and sizes. Sometimes, to make it interesting, the people would run, scream, and then get eaten. I even saw a few peoples who didn’t run, but they did get the screaming while being eaten part down perfect.
Didn’t Dr. Grant, the world famous paleontologist in the first movie, tell everyone that T-Rex hunted by movement, and not to move a muscle? How long did that last? Do you remember, in the first Jurassic Park movie when the T-Rex was attacking the touring vehicle, and the young girl kept screaming, moving around, and shining a flashlight into the eyes of a flesh-eating lizard that was forty-feet-long, and weighed over fourteen tons? Did any of you yell at the screen, and tell her to turn off the darn flashlight? By some miracle, she didn’t run and get eaten, but some poor lawyer sitting on a toilet did. The sad thing is, I don’t think he was finished.
After watching those Jurassic Park movies, I decided not to write about all the running, screaming, and getting eaten by dinosaurs. I hope you don’t mind, but I think I’ll write a gentler perspective of what it was like, living eons ago, in the time of the dinosaurs. I’m also going to throw in a little about getting older, and add a dash of childhood innocence for good measure. I’m sorry, but I get enough incredible fear, constant conflict, hysterical screaming, and the ingestion of enormous quantities of meat, when my in-laws invite us over for family picnics.
How many of you parents out there, have had your wide-eyed and innocent young children ask you what it was like to live during the time of the dinosaurs? Makes you feel a little old, doesn’t it? I remember when my youngest son was about three years old, very precocious, just learning about life, totally fixated on dinosaurs, and having no concept of time or age. To his young and impressionable mind, I was incredibly old, had acquired the wisdom of the ages, had answers for everything, and was as ancient as the pyramids of Egypt, or in this case; so old, I still remember what it was like to run from dinosaurs.
I remember one particular night, when I was tucking him into bed. He had spent what seemed like endless hours reading books about dinosaurs so huge their footsteps shook the earth, playing with a plastic model of a toothy Tyrannosaurus Rex, and watching reruns of the Flintstones. As I gently kissed him on the forehead, turned off his Scooby-Doo night-light, and pulled the covers up to his neck, he looked up at me with eager, loving and trusting eyes and said, “Daddy; what was it like to live in caves, wear animal skins, drag mommy around by her hair, carry huge clubs, and run from big, hungry dinosaurs?” I smiled, tousled his hair, thought for a moment, and said…….
I have to admit, I often got caught up in the moment and exaggerated a little. Well, maybe more than a little, but that’s what dads do. I spun some outrageous stories that would captivate my son, and fill him with awe and wonder. Some of the things I told him seem a little silly, now that I think about them. I think I can be forgiven for a few tall-tales told to a small boy who thought I could walk on water. At the time, I was his favorite man in the whole world, a super hero with amazing powers, and obviously, the oldest human being who ever lived.
My wife wasn’t safe from our son’s inquisitive mind, and his sometimes, difficult questions. It had to be hard for my wife, when her youngest child thought she was so old, her days were once spent making primitive clothing, starting fires with rocks, washing animal-skin clothing on boulders, and constantly scanning the sky with a wary eye for swooping, predatory pterodactyls, with thirty-foot wing-spans. After some of my son’s innocent inquires, I would often tease my wife. I once said, “Honey, if you’re going out for food today, be sure to use the club.”
She looked at me with slight confusion, and said, “Of course, I’m going to use my Sam’s Club membership.” I replied, “No, I mean the big wooden club you keep in the closet, and sometimes use to bring home dinner.” Just to let you know – that didn’t go over very well.
Do you know something? I really don’t feel so old. I have to admit that I’m not as young as I once was, I’m finding a few gray hairs here and there, and I’ve been waking up in the morning with some age-related aches and pains. I will say this though. I’m certainly not so old, I witnessed Moses part the red sea, helped a Neanderthal named Nog invent the wheel, or stood at a cave entrance and watched massive, towering Brontosaurus grazing peacefully on the lush, primeval forests below.
My son is now a wonderful, though often cynical and stubborn young adult. He no longer believes his father once ran barefoot among towering trees and massive ferns, as he fled from swift and brutal raptors, hunting in deadly and ravenous packs. He thinks that’s crazy. He also doesn’t believe my wife and I dressed up in zebra costumes to sneak onto Noah’s Ark, or that we survived the Dark Ages of Medieval Europe by stocking up on flashlights and batteries. It’s sad to say though; he does think we’re both unbelievably old, technologically inept, have one foot in the grave, are out of touch with today’s music and culture, don’t understand the pressures of today’s youth, and have no concept of what it means to be young.
He may have a point; but it wasn’t too long ago, I myself, was worrying about that huge pimple on the middle of my forehead, believed that I knew everything, and was just learning girls were not only wonderful, but extremely terrifying. I may be finding more and more candles on my birthday cakes, but I’m also not so old, I don’t remember what it felt like to be a small child and looking up at my dad standing next to me. He was like a giant towering over me, as I felt the comfort of his big hand resting on my shoulder. I instinctively knew he would always be there to protect me from anything; even dinosaurs. If I ever felt the ground tremble from enormous footsteps, I could pull on his sleeve, look up into his eyes and say, “Daddy, could I ride up on your shoulders? If a dinosaur shows up, I think it will be safer way up there. Besides, I know how fast you can run. He’ll never catch us.”
Before I go, I should let you know that my first grandchild just turned six months old. It won’t be long before she’s walking, then talking, and soon after that, she may learn about dinosaurs. I guess, I’ll have to see if I remember some of the old stories I told my son. Of course, they’ll be no running, screaming or getting eaten. We’ll leave that for the movies.