Stuff I’m Cheering For …

For the last ten years or so, I’ve been surrendering slowly.  Like a dwarf peeing on a forest fire, I’ve been raging against the forces of evil who want to turn everybody on this planet into a grim-faced, Politically Correct automaton — just as miserable as they are.  These are the folks who destroyed satire, abolished irony, replaced love with the “relationship” and sucked the fun out of every holiday from Valentine’s Day to Christmas.  And I’m not even going to go into what they did to sex and junk food!  Anyway, with Covid-19 and American politics fueling the fire, for a while there, I thought all was lost.  Man, do I need to replace my rose-coloured glasses!  There are tons of cool things happening all over the world, and every one of them is a bucket of hope to pour on the flames.  So here are just a few things I’m cheering for these days. 

Hallowe’en parents – It’s a tough year to have little trick-or-treaters, so I’m cheering for anybody who’s trying to keep the holiday alive – especially the one who aren’t boycotting Mulan.

Women who wear skinny jeans – I have no idea how they get into them, and I’m sure they can’t be comfortable, but anybody who strikes a blow against yoga pants gets a cheer from me.

Movie makers – Actually, I’m giving 3 cheers to the people who’ve decided only villains wear those hideous Man Buns.  Good going, folks!

My niece and her husband – They’ve been together forever and have never once mentioned the word “relationship.”  (I think they’re in love.)  And now they’re having a baby.  The audacity of optimism!  Total congrats!

Je suis Samuel It goes without saying that I’m cheering for anybody who stands up to those idiot terrorist bastards

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern – Since she was elected leader in a very weak minority government, she’s handled a terrorist attack, a couple of natural disasters and kicked the crap out of Covid-19 – and, oh yeah — in her spare time, she had a baby.  Living proof that not all politicians are dolts.  BTW, last week, she was re-elected with the largest majority in 50 years!

That Guy in Canada – A Canadian onion seller tried to put an advertisement on Facebook, but it was rejected because it was “overtly sexual.”  (The ad was just a picture of onions.)  Laughing all the way to the bank, Jackson McLean posted the same picture and Facebook’s rejection on his own website.  The onions sold out in 3 days!  Take that, you mindless techno-tyrant!

And finally:

The Danes – Every one of them.  The Danes have a word, samfundssind that basically means “community spirit,” but it’s more about people taking responsibility for the community — kinda like “Hey, we’re all in this together, so don’t be a dick!”  This flies in the face of the WHAT-ABOUT-ME culture most of the rest of us have.  But it also means Denmark is a cool place to live.  People there are nice to each other; they wait their turn; they don’t throw trash in the streets; they say please and thank you and clean up after their dogs.  But mostly, they trust each other to be just as reasonable.  FYI, Danish parents routinely leave their baby buggies on the sidewalk when the go into shops and cafes.  That’s some serious trust!  We should all take a page out of that book.

Signposts Of Life

The “Life is a journey” cliché has been done to death — but it’s there and I’m lazy, so what the hell!  People say life is a journey, and it is — but it’s not a straight-and-narrow, or a super highway or even a twisty backroad to heaven.  It’s a wilderness, and we poor mortals are forced to navigate it the best way we know how.  That’s why our more than benevolent society gives us signposts.  These are big, simple, well-lit markers that we can clearly see as we’re speeding along at 200 KPH, going – uh – wherever it is we’re all going.

When we’re babies, the first signpost we get is “NO!”  This keeps us away from dangerous stuff, disgusting stuff and stuff we really shouldn’t put in our mouth.  Easy!  But it doesn’t take us long to discover that some “no’s” are more important than others.  For example, when we ignore, “No, don’t pull kitty’s tail!” we end up with lacerations. However, “No, don’t throw your food on the floor.” Is nothing serious.  (After all, cleanup is not our problem.)

From there, the signposts get a little trickier.  Sure “Play nice!” is relatively easy, but “Share!” comes with a double-edged sword.  There isn’t a person on this planet who hasn’t run into the “share” conundrum.  Meanwhile, this is when we realize that — even though the world is full of signposts — some people don’t feel any obligation to observe them.  It’s a hard lesson when we’ve “shared” our cupcake with Sally, but Sally has decided to keep her cookies to herself.

Then the signposts start coming faster, and they’re a lot more complicated.  We learn there are certain words that are off limits, even though they’re surprisingly fun to say and actually quite common during times of parental stress.  We also learn “Don’t lie!”  This is a biggie.  However, it comes with a number of caveats that aren’t always obvious to the untrained eye.  For example, Uncle Jake’s Special Spaghetti Sauce might honestly taste like dirt, but if you say so there will be consequences.  Here’s where we find out that even though the path is always clearly marked, on occasion, life is a lot easier if we simply look the other way.

Teenage years are full of signposts that are basically contradictory.  “You’re young: have fun!” is diametrically opposed to “You need to study, or you’ll end up a crack whore like your cousin Jerry.”  Plus, we’re starting to get the feeling that some signposts are deliberately misleading.  Some, like “Algebra is important!” are there to keep us on the path whether we like it or not, and others, like “YOLO,” are trying to lure you into the weeds.  Then there’s the uber dangerous “Ahh, come on!  It’ll be fun!” which can go either way.  Follow this one too far and you could end up either hosting multi-level marketing seminars in your living room or sittin’ in an alley somewhere, smokin’ crack with your cousin Jerry.  It can happen!  Luckily, most of us manage to get through the 12-to-20 labyrinth and come out the other side as Adults.  And here’s where things settle down a bit.

As adults, we all see life’s signposts, and we all kinda know which direction we’re going.  Plus, even though we sometimes don’t admit it, we all know where the edge of the path is.  Mainly because, at some point in our lives, we’ve screwed up and found ourselves stumbling around in the weeds.  It’s not very pleasant.  That’s why, even though “Love thy neighbour” doesn’t apply to Fang, the 24/7 Death Metal music freak down the street, we don’t go down there and beat him over the head with his sub-woofer.  That’s off the path, over the hill and down the other side.  And we know if we go out there, there’s always a chance we won’t find our way back.  So, from time to time, we might covet our neighbour’s wife and her ass, and maybe even her riding lawnmower but we don’t do anything about it.  We just glance up at the signpost, look at the snarl of brambles and thorns and weeds beyond it, and roll over and go back to sleep. 

Summer 2020

I may have mentioned in these pages that I’m not very fond of summer.  As my least favourite season, I’ve even been known to complain about it.  Plus, every year around Labour Day, I jump the gun and start singing the praises of autumn.  And – well – this year isn’t going to be any different, except … I have a confession to make.  The summer of 2020 hasn’t been all that bad.  That’s right, the worst summer this planet has seen since Marvin the Mongolian brought his pet rats to Genoa in 1347, was actually not as godawful as originally advertised.  Hold it!  Before you start gathering the torches and pitchforks, hear me out!  Here are a few reasons why, even though the Summer 2020 isn’t anything I ever want to do again, it was certainly better than expected.

We’re learning social distancing

1 – People kept their clothes on.  Normally, summers are awash with untethered flesh, wiggling and jiggling and … “Oh, God! My Eyes!”  I don’t know what happened, but somehow a lot of us started channeling our inner dignity.   

2 – We discovered what the word “brave” really means, and it’s got nothing to do with some celebrity playing victim on Twitter for twenty minutes.

3 – And speaking of celebrities, wasn’t it cool when they all shut up and went home?

4 – There were more regular people on the streets — walking, running, riding their bikes — and even though they kept their distance, they were friendly.  Neighbours waved to each other, asked how things were going and called each other by their first names.  (I didn’t even know the guy down the street had a name.)

5 – There was, on occasion, quiet.  The parks and beaches and backyards weren’t constantly haunch to paunch with obnoxious crowds of loudmouths, cremating their meat to the 4,000 decimal beat of a heart/lung machine that somebody once mistakenly called “music.”

6 – It didn’t feel quite so hot without those penis envy motorcycles roaring through the afternoon like recently castrated lions.

7 – Zoom

8 – Professional sports didn’t show up until later, so we didn’t have to endure an endless, meaningless, boring parade of nobody-cares-who-wins baseball games.

9 – We all began finding out how much junk we’ve accumulated over the years, and not just useless household junk — emotional junk, lifestyle junk, ideas junk, even people junk.  Last spring our world got ambushed and a bunch of stuff changed, so most of us have spent the summer — consciously or unconsciously — reassessing what’s important in our lives and what’s just junk.

And because of that:

10 – Even though it might not feel good right now, the best thing to happen this summer is a lot of people started thinking about, talking about and trying to do something about things that actually matter.