If I say "still then," will that make us all feel better about ourselves?
And also summer vacations, which were both encapsulated by and created by National Lampoon's Vacation -- one of only three funny National Lampoon movies, ever, and one that forever changed the way we look at family vacations.
I suppose family vacations existed before Vacation came out; they had to have something to base the movie on, didn't they? But ever since the movie came out, I'm betting vacations have conformed themselves to the movie, rather than the other way around.
Vacation changed family vacations the way Jaws changed beaches and sitcoms changed dads into bumblers and silly people; in the 1950s, dads were not goofy. They were ultra-competent guys in suits who had the answers to all the questions, and that continued well into the 1980s, with Bill Cosby representing the peak of Dad-dom. Since then, though, dads have been on a long, slow slide into oblivion -- at the same time as beaches have become silent death traps, and vacations have become (at least in people's minds) weeklong odysseys of mistakes, peril, and boredom.
And Vacation may have helped the change in fictional Dad-dom, too, now that I think about it. If they'd had a shark in that movie, it'd be the equivalent of Star Wars or Jennifer Aniston's hair.
I bet almost every single person around my age has, at one point or another, taken a vacation, and at one point or another, has on that vacation uttered the words Family Truckster, or mentally mimicked Clark's rant, or referred to a destination as the Second Largest Ball Of Twine On The Face Of The Earth...
... or is that just me?
And, of course, every single man on a family vacation since the movie came out has at one point or another remembered certain parts:
1. Weekend At Bernie's. (P.S. To Rogue Mutt: When you say that the sequel was unnecessary, does that imply that the first one was necessary?)
2. One Crazy Summer.