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The End of the Innocence

Sandlot Several years ago the shoe company “Keds” had an advertising campaign that simply asked some questions. I don’t know why it has stuck with me all these years, but it was great marketing. Featured in the commercial was a small girl with her Keds on and the narrator simply said things like:

“What size Keds will you be wearing when you lose your first tooth?”

“What size Keds will you be wearing when you meet your first boyfriend?”

“What size Keds will you be wearing when the first of your friends gets married?”

What captured me in this 30 second spot is how we were presented with the reality that life happens. Time moves on and things and people change. I have always shared the journey in this blog and this post is the result of several days of reflecting on the loss of a childhood friend. Someone that was like a brother to me through my high school years.

I guess the past few days I have been wondering when we lost the innocence of our youth? What happened to the times when we ran with our “crew” and didn’t worry about the things we worry about now? When phone calls at 1am didn’t scare you that it might be bad news. When you didn’t fear doctors, dentists or the things that would cause you to need to see either one of them. We stayed out late, drove without seat belts, ate what we wanted and lived without the fear. Somewhere, somehow, some time ago, that changed and so did we.

We can’t live our life looking back, but it only takes a twist of fate to remember and reflect on the past. Tragedy should not be the thing that makes “the old gang” get together. What are the miles that separated the gang in the first place? I wonder if it can be found at the same place and time as the end of the innocence.

“Who knows how long this will last?

Now we’ve come so far so fast.

Somewhere back there in the dust

That same small town in each of us.” – Don Henley


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Comments · 3

  • Mary · December 5, 2007

    “I never look at it as the “end of innocence”. More like we are blinded by our innocence. ” Words spoken to me from a 16 year old girl whom I removed from her home.

    For the record I had one pair of Keds when I was a preteen. They split in the back and mother swore she would never buy another pair.

  • MichaelConners · December 5, 2007

    I’m only 47 but I think I understand what you’re saying, Aaron.

    I had a crew that I hung out with when I lived in Bexley on Cassady Avenue. Great group of kids, riding bikes, playing army, touch football in the mud.

    We went to different elementary schools, high schools, college. Grew apart.

    It’s a mix of people changing and events shaping our lives. People don’t always make wise decisions, get into trouble. Or they make good decisions and those take them away to someplace else, following their interest and talents.

    2008 will be my 30 year high school reunion so I’ll guess that I will ponder this more this year.

    I do believe over the years we, as humans, have the means to be in more control – seemingly – of our lives. We have lots of technology, gadgets, etc., but it doesn’t change the fact that we aren’t in control. Never were. Some things we can mitigate – with advance warnings for tornadoes as an example.

    Innocence is a fellow traveler of ignorance. It’s what you don’t know about. There’s isn’t a moral component to ignorance unless it’s willfully imposed. Then it’s foolishness. Proverbs talks a lot about the foolish.

    But society has changed over the years. It’s become more brutal, IMO. Serial murders, parents killing children, children killing parents, devaluation of human life.

    The Conners boys were always Converse wearers. Black. We got kinda flashy with the colored shoe laces. Green and gold.

    It wasn’t until high school that I wore ProKeds due to the basketball team getting them for uniforms. I didn’t make the team but I got the shoes.

  • Aaron · December 5, 2007

    Thanks Mike and Mary. I’m not even sure what I wrote makes sense. It was really a data dump from a weeks worth of processing. It didn’t help that it was 1:30am when I wrote it. Yet, I think it made sense in some way.

    Mary – that was a very powerful statement and one I will file away for later.

    Mike – I agree with the times changing which has taken the innocence from our children before they even could experience it.

    The closest I ever got to “Keds” were “Vans”. I the black and white slip ons made popular in the movie “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and the Red and White checkered lace ups. Still some of the most comfortable shoes ever.

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