I Miss Ordinary

I love the 21st century.  I love it that I can talk to people all over the world.  I love that my Japanese car was built in France — from Polish parts.  I love Google and Wikipedia.  I love the one-click universe.  I love it that, when I order a pizza, it gets to my house faster than the cops can.  Well, maybe not that so much … but … I do think it’s cool that the person at the other end of the telephone is thousands of kilometres away, but she instantly knows my name and remembers I want extra garlic.  The point is I love all the bells and whistles this century has to offer … but … there is one serious drawback.  You can’t get regular stuff anymore.  Ordinary is just not available.  Here are a few examples:

Telephones — I have no idea what half the stuff on my telephone does.  I touch the wrong icon, and suddenly I’ve got a live-stream street scene from a village in Bhutan.  If they made an ordinary telephone that just made telephone calls, every old person on this planet would buy one.

Water — Last time I checked, there were at least a dozen different brands of water for sale.  People!  It’s water!  The only choice you’re actually making is the shape of the plastic bottle.

Ice Cream — What ever happened to Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry?  Do we really need Mungo Jerry Berry?  Wasabi?  Bacon?  This isn’t ice cream, folks!  It’s some kind of mutant milk product, foisted on an unsuspecting public who think they’re getting something other than a lethal dose of chemical flavouring.

Coffee — It’s impossible to do that many different things to a beverage.

Toothpaste — Every brand from Aquafresh to Sensodyne has a least 8 different versions, four different flavours and any number of different purposes.  You can have cavity control, tartar control, bad breath control or holy-hell-that-hurts control.  In the age of bone graft implants, you would think dentistry could come up with a single brush-your-teeth-after-every-meal toothpaste.

Milk – When I was a kid, milk came in a bottle, to the door.  (It was originally from a cow.)  Today, if I want something to sog up cereal, I have to go on safari and hunt through the forest of Soy, Oat, Almond, Quinoa (Quinoa?) and God only knows what else to find … OMG! there’s still Skim, 1%, 3%, Lactose Intolerant, Lactose Added, Lactose Is The Enemy– and that stuff  isn’t even a liquid!  No wonder we all eat breakfast bars!

And finally:

Cars — The only purpose of the automobile is to go where you want it to go, stop where you want it to stop and go backwards if you went too far.  That’s it.  Cut out all the other crap — like power windows, heated seats, 3 surveillance cameras, 9 cup holders and a video uplink to the Mars Rover — and you could make an ordinary car that ordinary people could afford.  Plus, you could probably power it with your brother-in-law’s electric lawnmower motor.

Some People Are …

People are wonderful creatures.  They come in infinite varieties, and just when you think you’ve got them figured out, they come up with something completely different and surprise you.  It’s no wonder so many psychiatrists need therapy.  I’ve studied people (informally) most of my life, and I’ve arrived at a few interesting conclusions.

Some people are not supposed to swear.  I’m not talking about nuns or like that; I’m talking about the folks who don’t get it right.  The ones who are trying way too hard to sound badass, and it just comes out weird.  It’s as if they saw the words in a book and looked up the pronunciation.  (Adding the final “g” is always a dead giveaway.)

Some people stink.  No, not poor personal hygiene — that’s different.  These are the folks who apply fragrance like it’s a contest.  The ones who leave that tinny taste in your mouth when they walk past you.

Some people can’t tell a good story.  They start off alright, but then they wander all over the place, trying to explain every detail.  So, what begins as a quick-and-dirty about getting caught in the cat-door fades away — finally — ten minutes later, somewhere in Michigan, riding in Uncle Benny’s green ’82 Pontiac.

Some people shouldn’t be allowed to drink.  Sad people, angry people, touchy/feely people, people who cry a lot, but mostly those people who have one glass of wine and act like they’re auditioning for a Seth Rogen movie.

Some people shouldn’t be parents.  We all know who those people are.

Some people work for the government.  These are the people who know all the rules, what documents you need and what forms you have to fill out, but they take a perverse pleasure in keeping all that information a secret for as long as possible.

Some people don’t own a mirror.  There’s no other logical explanation.  Why would anybody (who can see themselves) go out in public wearing an electric-pink angora sweater, matching hat, Daisy Duke short shorts and lumberjack work boots?

But my favourite is:

Some people aren’t all that smart.  This isn’t a problem; it’s just a fact.  The problem is the rest of us are too scared to mention it because of — uh — Stupid Shaming? — or some other such nonsense.  The result is the world is full of stupid people, running around saying and doing stupid stuff, and the rest of us all have to act like we don’t notice.

Originally written in 2017, and nope – nothing’s changed!

You’ve Been Warned!

One of the weirdest phenoms of the 21st century is the “Trigger Warning.”  This is a statement made before news items, blogs, plays, books, stories, opinion pieces, university lectures, movies, TV programs, poems, paintings and pretty much everything else we watch, read or hear.  The purpose is to warn us that whatever is coming next is probably too harsh for our fragile emotions to handle, and we should avert our gaze or else we’ll end up huddled in the corner – sobbing.  Personally, I think this is a rather ad hoc way to do business.  We all know life is tough, and if we’ve become such emotional marshmallows we can’t deal with trivial stuff like TV programs or someone’s Twitter opinion, maybe it’s time we put trigger warnings on life itself.

May I make a few suggestions?

Warning — Normal people disagree with each other.  Sometimes, they will disagree with you.  They are not idiots, evil or part of an international corporate conspiracy.  However, if it distresses you that anybody could possibly have a perspective, attitude or viewpoint that’s different from yours — remain calm — try to steer the conversation to celebrity gossip or, better still, just walk away when the adults are talking.

Warning — There are hundreds of different cultures in the world.  These cultures exist simultaneously and overlap.  If you are so uncomfortable being Caucasian that the overlap causes you feelings of latent Western guilt, please return to your home and watch old Michael Moore documentaries.  They will provide all the guilt you need.

Warning — Reasonable political discussions contain logic and nuance.  If you prefer shouting and/or name calling, it’s probably best to just talk about the weather.  Oops!  No, probably not!  Hmm — perhaps stick to celebrity gossip or, better still, just walk away when the adults are talking.

Warning — Not every person on this planet is your mother.  Nobody is emotionally obligated to cuddle, cajole or care about you.  If this makes you uncomfortable — uh — I don’t care?

Warning — You can’t change history.  If historical names, statues and monuments offend you so completely that you feel an uncontrollable need to vandalize or destroy them – go ahead.  Throughout history, arrogant bullies have always tried to cancel the culture that came before them (Nazis burned books, Puritans banned Christmas, the Taliban closed all the schools for girls, etc.) so you’re just another arrogant bully in a long line of history’s arrogant bullies – get used to it.

Warning — Television is NOT real.  If make-believe offends you, please do not watch television.

Warning — People in other centuries had different values and ideals.  Perhaps they were wrong, but judging past behaviour by contemporary standards is stupid.  Remember what a nitwit you were in high school?   Seemed like a good idea at the time, though – didn’t it?  Well, good luck trying to justify it now!

Warning — Humour still exists in the world.  If laughing at stupidity, absurdity, the ridiculous and the inane makes you uneasy, please pull the hockey stick out of your ass and quit spoiling it for the rest of us.

Warning — “Trigger Warnings” are bullshit.  If you are an adult and still need someone else to prequalify what you read, watch or hear, please talk to your parents immediately.  Obviously, they didn’t do their job properly, and you might want to start again.