Saturday, July 24, 2010

Zero Intolerance

This has been quite a couple of weeks. No excuse for not writing, but it’s the only one I have. My mother-in-law, the irredoubtable Rose Groman finally decided she’d given this life a pretty good spin, and headed back to see her husband and sisters, all of whom missed her, I’m sure. The sense of absence – of missing something no longer there, whether it be person or thing, is often hard to describe. Where there was once someone ( Rose) , doing something familiar (chatting, cooking veal chops, watching a game show) , but who is there no longer, is a tough reality to grab on to. So much of our lives are filled with the kind of repetitive moments, or at least the security of the familiar, that large gaps left by someone’s passing make difficult to grasp. You keep hearing the voice which you know won’t be spoken again. Out of the corner of your eye, little tricks are played on your mind, as you could swear you heard or saw something which could only have come from that person. Then you have one of those instant double-takes… Wait. Rose is gone. It couldn’t have been her.

We spend so much of our lives dwelling in the unproductive and uninteresting sides of things, the pursuits of material which ultimately seem so banal and uninviting when the real soul of life needs to be measured. The one thing I suppose I am sure of is that I’m not, inspite of my chronological qualifications, ready to assume a role as ‘adult.’ While not afflicted with severe Peter Pan syndrome, I nonetheless have preferred living my life as a naïf, someone who continually remains open to the possibility of positive change, with that flicker of child like belief that the ‘grown ups’ won’t really screw things up as badly as they seem to be. Well, yes, they do seem to be pretty on their way (or, since they are my age and younger) on OUR way to doing so. I’m continually reminded of how our generation, the baby boomers, have squandered the joys inherent in thought and common sense, and instead, in some kind of desire to avoid responsibility, just throw back all the basic questions of right and wrong. Yesterday, my brother in law Jeff, a mere 5 years younger than I, accompanied me to a ‘Food Emporium’ grocer to pick up two beers… not two six packs, but two beers (albeit the Fosters hand-grenade sized ones.) The young woman at the cashier asked to see I.D. Now, if you are alive, and breathe, and know how to punch a time clock (which I’m sure all the Food Emp. Employees do) you couldn’t possibly think Jeff or I were under the age of 21. It’s simply not humanly possible. But to do so would require the tiniest bit of that combination of intellect and giving a damn, along with an infinitesimal power of observation. I understand if Jordan were to order a drink in a café or buy a beer in a store, how she could, indeed should be ‘carded.’ But to have completely abrogated the concept of “common sense” which is now so uncommon, is to show to that same younger generation that adults are thoughtless idiots, incapable of even making the most elemental, simple, and basic decision. We see it in our lives everyday. “Zero Tolerance” ought to just be called “No More Common Sense, Please” as all it does is create more idiotic rules and interpretations of how to live a life.

For years I thought the coolest gift you could give a 13 year old boy at his Bar Mitzvah was a Swiss Army knife. A blade to cut a tree branch when camping, the can opener and bottle opener so you could eat, a small saw for securing your hammock, and a screw driver when the electrical box needed fixing. The corkscrew, for later years use, was kind of self explanatory. But now, if you were to even think of giving a kid a Swiss Army Knife, one of the dozens of newly formed anti terrorist squads, dressed to the nines in their recently purchased millions of dollars worth of Kevlar black uniform and SWAT teamwear would descend upon the poor kid before he could trim the string on his box kite. Once again, the things we knew and cherished and appreciated are now just blocked off from everyday life by some new rule. I’m ready to apologize to the kids’ generation at this point. Rose, and her compatriots, got us through the end of the depression, WW2, and the Cold War. What have we done? Well, very little, I’m afraid to say, and most of that not so good. Yes, we have cell phones, email, and instant messaging. It all has its place and can be incredibly useful, although I fear that having given everyone the chance to stare at their cellphone as they walk down the sidewalk or enter an elevator, we have lost many further chances to just interact with each other “in person.” As someone who starts conversations in elevators with strangers, I fear the ‘stare at your cell phone” syndrome will make such chit chat even more difficult as we move forward. (You call this Forward?) So, I’m sorry our generation didn’t just decide to KNOW the simple difference between what is right, and what isn’t. In the end, it’s usually not that hard. As Rose would have said, “Smart, smart, stupid.” Yes, at some point, the self-appointed geniuses just crap out, and their inherent self-important views of the world dissolve into a bit of nothing. My belt is fitting a little loose this morning, and I’d like to fix it. Where do you think that Swiss Army Knife leather punch is, anyway? We’re just sayin’… David

1 comment:

John said...

THAT'S a leather punch? All these years and I had no idea what the hell it was.

You getting carded is classic. Like a scene out of a Wes Anderson film or something.

Hope you're doing well...