As Time Goes By by
(303 Stories)

Loading Share Buttons...

/ Stories

Obviously this isn’t me, I never would have thought of taking a picture when I was ironing my hair

Then: Kneeling down in front of the ironing board to iron my hair, so that it will be pin straight, as the fashion dictates. Sometimes burning my left hand (which is holding the hairbrush) with the tip of the iron in my right hand, because I can’t see what I’m doing.

Now: What’s an ironing board? Electric flatirons make straightening hair much easier. Better yet, it’s okay to surrender to my natural curl, so I just wash my hair and let it dry!


Then: Getting up to change the channel on the TV, or adjust the volume on the TV or stereo. Moving the rabbit-ears antenna around to improve the reception.

Now: Everything has a remote control. I don’t even think there are any controls for the channels or the volume on my wall-mounted flatscreen TV. Probably no control of any kind to improve reception either, but nobody watches network TV any more anyway.


Then: Arriving at the airport 15 minutes before a flight and making it onto the plane with no problem. Parking at the curb when picking people up, and going inside to meet them. When changing planes, having friends who live in the hub city meet you at the gate for a visit.

Now: Allowing an hour or more to go through airport security. No parking anywhere near the terminal, and even waiting in the car outside the terminal is not allowed for more than a minute or two. Nobody can go to the gate if they don’t have a ticket to fly somewhere.


Then: The Kinks sang “Lola,” which had the lyrics “Girls will be boys and boys will be girls, it’s a mixed-up, muddled-up, shook-up world” — and we took that as a metaphor.

Now: Transgender, nonbinary, and using the pronoun “they” for one person.




  • * * *
Profile photo of Suzy Suzy

Characterizations: been there


  1. John Zussman says:

    Great examples of how we’ve simplified and complicated the world at the same time.

  2. John Shutkin says:

    Besides your usual perfect ear (or is it eye?) for using song titles for your story titles, the then/now format perfectly encapsulates this week’s theme. Plus, it is particularly well suited for the “time sensitive” writing requirement. It nicely and succinctly puts it all out there for comparison.

    I especially liked the totally unexpected last reference to “Lola,” since I think we are all so attuned to the technology and logistics changes from “then” until “now'” — and I assumed that would be the sole focus of our stories here — and then you threw out an example that dealt with a fundamental cultural/sociological/behavioral (whatever) change we have all lived through. Terrific!

  3. Good ‘that was then’ update, Suzy. It made me kinda wistful, longing for those days when I knelt at the ironing board. Sometimes my mom would help me but not usually. It’s striking how many gender-specific tortures the 1950s and ’60s invented for women and girls while sparing men and boys. Your airport comparison inspired me to recall that people dressed up to fly. And then, your across-the-spectrum flight from As Time Goes By to Lola.

    • Suzy says:

      Too funny to think of you kneeling at the ironing board! I can easily believe your hair was long enough back then, it’s something only a girl would subject herself to, as you say. I don’t remember dressing up to fly, although I’ve seen it in books and movies. And of course now many people don’t even bother to dress up to go to the Symphony or Opera.

  4. Betsy Pfau says:

    LOVE this! I never ironed my hair, but girls in my home-ec class did (much to the teacher’s chagrin). I was amazed watching them. I remember when we got our first Betamax (we were “early adopters”). It had a long cord on the remote control, but we still had to sit relatively close to the TV to work it!

    And your last one…well, with a trans daughter, whose partner is a “they”…I am so THERE!

Leave a Reply