Fred Flinstone Is Dead

A Lesson in Checking Your Nostalgia

Yes, it’s official. Freddy’s dead. That’s what I said. This is the story of how I was painfully notified.

I was planning to call my cousin Jim to wish him Happy Birthday. Rather than do something traditional, like yawn through the garden-variety version of “Happy Birthday,” I thought it would be better to sing it like Fred Flinstone’s Water Buffalo lodge buddies sang “Happy Anniversary” to him and Wilma. Surely you recall that episode? It went a little something like this:

“Happy anni-versa-ry.
Happy anni-versa-ry.
Happy anni-versa-ry. Ha-ppy anniversary.
Happy happy happy happy happy anniversary.
Happy happy happy happy happy anniversary.
Happy anni-versa-ry. Happy anni-versa-ry. Happy anni-versa-ry.
Ha-ppy anniversary.”

Simple, right? But when I had the brilliant idea to get my two kids and their three friends to join me in song, it was the beginning of my world turning to rubble. When I asked, “Have you kids ever seen The Flintstones?” all I got in response were blank stares, blinking eyes, and chirping crickets. I couldn’t believe it. We’re talking The Flintstones here, man, the “modern stone-age fam-uh-lee.”

Outraged, I went directly to
Webrock: The Unoffical Flintstones and Hanna-Barbera Homepage, to give these kids an education in classic cartoons. My outrage slowly turned to horror as I read some of the Flintstones episode titles and descriptions:

The Buffalo Convention – Every member of the Water Buffalo Lodge suddenly comes down with “dipsy-doodle-itis,” which can only be cured by three days away from their wives at Frantic City–but Wilma’s Doozey dodo bird knows the truth and could spoil everything.

Feudin’ and Fussin’ – Fred insults Barney and then refuses to apologize.

The Flintstone Flyer – Barney builds “The Barney Copter,” which Fred renames “The Flintstone Flyer,” and which the boys use to go bowling instead of to the opera with their wives.

Uh (pause), yeah. Talk about a reality check. That’s the day Fred died, and the day I became a man. I couldn’t understand why the show didn’t quite resemble animated Shakespeare like it did in my memory.

I’m not sure exactly how our mind works, how our memories are created, or why we respond and cling to certain people, places, smells, and other things; but, boy, do we love carrying them across oceans of time into our adulthood. I do know our Creator allows us to take some level of comfort in events and images from the past, and we don’t like them disturbed.

Eventually–after I got over my psychic trauma–it occurred to me how important it is to check my nostalgia from time to time, to more accurately assess what it is I savor in my memory. Is there anything else living back there that I am perceiving a poor reflection as in a mirror? Are there relationships that might not have existed as I thought they did? Do I need to let them go also? Can I use my years of acquired wisdom to reframe those people, re-view my actions, release my regrets? My memories can hold a sacred space in my mind; they don’t have to become extinct. The important thing is to keep them in perspective and know when to let them go.

When I was a child, I watched cartoons like a child, I “yabba dabba doo-ed” like a child. Now that I am a man, I have put away childish things (at least I try to keep them in perspective).

Rest in peace, Fred.