The Time When!

Whether you’re 25, 46, 71 or only 15, some days you wake up and just feel old.  You look at the world and realize today is not the day to play because the game of life has gotten too damn complicated.  You remember a simpler time when things were straightforward and you knew all the rules.  A time when the days were long and bright and the nights romantic.  I time when – well, you get the idea – a time when it didn’t seem like an endless fight just to be alive.  Don’t get me wrong: I have no desire to turn back the clock.  The good old days are a myth propagated by grumpy old people who can’t figure out why they aren’t cool anymore.  (Maybe it’s cuz they use words like cool?)  However, on a bright autumn morning when the coffee’s really good and there’s jam for the toast, there’s nothing wrong with being nostalgic.

Here are a few things, from a more elegant age, that I remember.

When people dressed up for important events like wedding, funerals and court appearances.  Women wore their breasts inside their clothes, and men looked like they’d taken a bath – recently.

The days when you could see the pictures in an art gallery and not the backs of a bunch of cell phones and the half faces of morons taking selfies.

When the lyrics to popular songs didn’t prominently feature body parts, sexual positions, robbery, obscenities, weapons or murder — and you could actually sing them to children.

A time when people didn’t scold each other for the sport of it.

A time when young people had all the questions, not all the answers.

The sweet satisfaction of slamming the phone down in some asshole’s ear.

The days when the relationship between men and women was not adversarial.

Irony, satire and wit.

When you could order coffee without reciting the recipe, and you got to drink it out of a real cup.

A time when ladies and gentlemen acted that way.

Lunches that didn’t come wrapped in paper and look like they’d been run over by a truck.

When gluten wasn’t the scariest thing on the planet.

A time when you could ride public transportation without being forced to listen to somebody else’s one-sided telephone conversation – 7 or 8 times.

When the truth was not a moveable feast.

A time when transgender was real and not just trending on Twitter.

When people could disagree like reasonable human beings not rabid animals.

A time when Hallowe’en was for kids and adults had better things to do than hijack a child’s harmless fun to further their social/political agenda.

The days before Jell-o Journalism (I’m looking at you, Oprah Winfrey) when reporting the news was an honourable profession.   

A time when cheating in professional sports was retail, not wholesale, and the people who did it weren’t stupid enough to get caught.

And finally:

The days when you weren’t constantly looking over your shoulder for a politically correct ambush.

What Happened To The Tango?

There are places where it’s illegal for teenagers to have sex because the authorities are worried it might lead kids to the tango.  The tango is Adults Only, any way you slice it.  It takes sophistication and patience to understand the sensual rhythm of two people moving with each other when they’re barely touching.  Exotic?  Erotic?  All of the above?  Unfortunately, in our time, we don’t tango all that much.  We let the professionals do it and watch, as if it were pornography.  Why?  I blame the “relationship.”  This nasty euphemism has not only ruined the tango for ordinary people; it’s responsible for most of what’s wrong with love in the 21st century.  Here’s the deal:

1 – What the hell does “relationship” even mean?  Unlike love, there’s nothing special about a relationship.  We all have relationships with any number of people, from our colleagues to the kid who delivers the pizza.  Push comes to shove, I have a relationship with my houseplants: they’re beautiful, and I water them.  If I don’t, they’ll crisp up and croak; then we both lose.  Personally, I think using the same word to describe what’s going on with the love of your life and your $19.00 bougainvillea is just a bit dismissive.

2 – People are always talking about taking their “relationship” to another level.  Look, (nudge/nudge, wink/wink) we all know this means sex.  Folks, love is not a video game with orgasms.  You don’t collect points for getting the dinner reservations right or remembering an anniversary, then cash them in some rainy night when you’re feeling lonely.  That’s not how it works.  Trying to figure out sex is difficult enough.  Turning it into a Reward Challenge is just sick!

3 – “Relationship” words all suck.  I want to “be with him.”  I have “feelings for her.”  Who are these people talking about — their grandmas?  You can’t sterilize passion.  Once you do, it isn’t passion anymore.

4 – People are always working at their “relationships” as if they were some kind of emotional salt mine.  Honestly, if it’s that difficult, why bother? After all, love is supposed to be fun.

5 – And finally, being “in a relationship” sounds like you’re bunking in for the weekend (or maybe slightly longer.)  The extraordinary connotation of the “relationship” is it’s temporary.  It has a definite beginning, a middle and an end.  I’ll grant you, few of us mate for life anymore, but I, for one, think love is valuable enough to at least give it a try.

People fall in love.  We can’t help it.  It’s marvelous and messy, but we shouldn’t try to institutionalize the romance out of it.  When we do, we lose beautiful things like the tango.  We don’t tango anymore because we’re too busy working on our “relationships.”   We haven’t got time to see the person right in front of us and realize they’re hearing the music, too.

A Few Definitions

Aside from fire and Velcro, language is the most useful tool humans have ever produced.  Once we went beyond grunting and growling, we were able to communicate complex ideas with a precision that made us the dominant species on this planet.  Unfortunately, these days we’re not playing nice with our words, and they’re losing their effectiveness.  We’ve taken to manipulating the language to try and give words extra meaning that they don’t deserve – and it’s failing miserably.  Here are a few contemporary words (we’ve all heard thousands of times – a day) that are supposed to carry a connotative punch – but they don’t – because we all know what they really mean.

1 — White Privilege – A bunch of privileged white people calling other white people “privileged” as if they did it on purpose just to be assholes.

2 — Twitter – A virtual stick that we beat people with until they agree not to disagree.

3 — Instagram – An historical record of just how culturally shallow we are in the 21st century.

4 – Facebook – Instagram for old people.

5 — Woke – “I live on a higher plane of consciousness than you do.”

6 — Virtue Signaling – This is how you know I live on a higher plane of consciousness than you do.

7 — Hate – Criticism you don’t like. “She said these jeans make me look fat.  She’s always been a hater!”

8 — Support – Criticism you do like.  “She said these jeans made me look curvy.  She’s always been supportive!”

9 — Brave – We’ve been using this word for everything from telling our daughter we’re gay to wearing pink chiffon, yoga pants and a hoodie.  Essentially, we’ve devalued the currency of this term so completely nobody even hears it anymore. (Remember what happened to “hero”?)

10 — Clicktivist – There is no IRL equivalent to this made-up cyberword.  The closest I can find is smug.

11 — Gluten Free – What we’ve been doing to safeguard our health — instead of finding a cure for cancer.

12 — Content Warning – The latest lame-ass attempt to keep the cybermob quiet.  We use it because — in the great tennis match between the eagerly offended and the immediately placated — the offended crowd upped the ante and declared that “trigger warning” itself was actually a trigger.  Go figure!

13 — Conversation – As in “We need to have a conversation about that.”  And it means: I’ll do the talking, and if you don’t shut up and agree, I’ll go Twitter (see Item #2) on your ass.  Not to be confused with “dialogue” which is too yesterday to be taken seriously.

14 — Issues – Problems that can’t possibly be solved.  A handy way to maintain perpetual victim status.

15 – Giving Back – The stuff rich people do when they are a) “woke” (see item #5) b) “virtue signaling (see item #6) and c) have some time on their hands.

16 – Awareness – Wasting time stating the obvious.  Does anybody know anybody who isn’t aware of inequality?

17 — Authentic – Social media sincerity that takes a ton of careful planning.

18 — Shaming – No, I’m not going to go there.

19 – Toxic – I don’t like this, and I’ve decided that nobody else should like it either.

And finally the one that demonstrates just exactly how easily the language can be manipulated:

20 – ‘Splaining – Add any prefix you want (man, age, size, eco, etc.) and you can get pissed off about it.