Thanks to the ceaseless efforts of diligent safety advocates, the day-to-day threat of getting squished has gone steadily down my entire life.
I mean, there was something character-building about getting one of your fingers mashed in a car’s power window, wasn’t there? Now, most of the windows just meekly retreat if they meet the slightest resistance. And there was magic in slamming your fingers in the car door. I suppose that’s still possible, but it’s not like it used to be. My dad was restoring a ’67 Cadillac convertible one summer when I was about nine. I was out “helping” him, and managed to close the passenger door with my left hand whilst holding the side of the windshield frame with my right hand.
That was a special moment, looking up at my fingers being mashed between the windshield and that 300-lb. door and feeling that exquisite agony. It’s what I think of whenever I consider relativity. My fingers were probably in there a grand total of one second, but in my memory I looked at them for at least ten.
Cars are just as heavy as they ever were—even more so—but car doors don’t needlessly weigh several hundred pounds anymore.
My favorite was the garage door. I used to love hitting the button from the back of the garage and then seeing how closely I could cut it getting out. Sometimes I wouldn’t be in the mood and would begin walking briskly as soon as the descent began…but other times it was on, baby. I’d let it get a third down, then halfway down, then usually a little past before taking off and rolling under it, imagining that I was just narrowly escaping the certain death of the multi-ton door crushing me between itself and the concrete like a rotten peach.
Now, you cross that little laser beam, and the door just goes back up.
I suppose there is still some game in trying to get out between the closing door and the beam, but with the threat of bodily injury so remote, the experience just doesn’t have that spark anymore.