I have no grandchildren, a condition I blame on my own children, which I also do not have.
But if I were the patriarch of a clan, I can imagine all the interesting questions the little toddlers would ask me, like the one posed in the title of this essay.
Of course their question would raise some of my own:
“Do you mean what ‘were’ blinkers?”
“Are you talking about automobiles, people, or horses (in which case I believe you mean ‘blinders’)?
“How do I respond to the question you just texted me?”
In the amount of time (3 seconds) required for me to return to reality, my little darlings would have moved on to faceblocking their unfriends, or looking up the answer through Google.
And since I had recently trotted out the expression “hoed out the guest room,” and received startled looks as a reply, prompting me to look up “hoed out” – meaning to remove crap with an ancient and honorable garden implement consisting of a long handle and a piece of iron set at right angles to the handle – only to discover a startling NEW and certainly colorful meaning to the expression (see for yourself: Urban Dictionary), I thought I should check my work in advance and look up “blinkers.”
Imagine my surprise when I learned that “blinkers” IS an acceptable alternative for “blinders” on the bridle of a harness, causing me to wonder: “How did my nonexistent grandkids learn so much about horse racing?”
Assuming, arguendo (simply for the ability to demonstrate my shady past working for attorneys), that my precious sprouts persisted in knowing the answer to their question, as well as further assuming, squabblendo, that I have not figured out how to access recorded episodes of “Matlock” or “Perry Mason,” I regale the infants with lore of yesteryear.
For, hard as it may be to believe, when I was young – and so still cared about things – drivers of automobiles would depress or raise a lever located on the steering column for the sole and express purpose of indicating, or “signaling,” other drivers in what direction we intended to hurl the 2-plus tons of metal and vinyl we piloted.
Skipping over the insatiable curiosity of youth, peppering me with follow ups like:
“What’s an automobile?”
“What’s a column?” and
“What’s a vinyl?”
I educate the tykes by miming the action I have described, complete with sound effects for the “blinker”: “Tink DINK; Tink DINK; Tink DINK,” establishing with authority that I do not understand how mime works.
Interpreting the glazing over of their eyes as an opportunity for a “teachable moment,” I lead them out to my car, and after pressing all the buttons on the key fob, realize I am attempting to unlock the vehicle with one of the seven remotes required to enjoy those detective programs I listed earlier (and you thought I wasn’t paying attention!).
Correcting such an error is child’s play, of course, which is why I let the kids retrieve the proper electronic device. Then I gained access to the transportation appliance, started the engine, and clicked the directional signal into place. My hearing not being what it once was, I couldn’t be certain if it was making anything resembling the noise I had previously mimed aloud, so took my precious angels to the front and back of the car to witness the working of the blinkers.
Having never seen these in use before, their inquisitiveness increased, and they asked, “How can you turn on blinkers while you’re texting?”
But of course by this time, I am fast asleep.