18 April 2007

Freak of Culture

I am a peculiar bird. Much of today’s culture just doesn’t suit me. And I long for simpler times.

I miss the eight-hour workday, getting Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthday off (two three-day weekends in a row, people), and whatever happened to Columbus Day and banker’s hours? I yearn for the time when cars came with turn signals, and driver’s that used them. The salad days when fruits and vegetables didn’t kill you, although some tasted like they could, and no one had to fear spinach or strawberries.

Remember way back when you would come home to messages -- either on a machine or via voicemail -- from people who loved you? Wasn’t that nice? Now, if you get a message, it’s usually from a computer calling, even though you are on the Do Not Call Registry. What rings of its non-existent hook is your cell phone. Everyone and their brother calls you just because they’re bored and have minutes to spare. Sure, the rest of the world seems to live on their cellies, but I’m old school. Oddly enough, I sort of expect my home phone to ring when I’m in my home. I know. I’m a freak.

No one should have to hear the words: “I had adultery for breakfast the other day. It was yummy.” Even if they are said over cocktails. Our grandparents would shudder to think that, instead of savings, we’ve got over fifty-grand in debt...and that’s not counting the mortgage (if we were lucky to qualify for one).

There was a time when an immigrant would want to learn English in order to thrive in the US. Now, it seems the US is expected to be multi-lingual. Until that day, we all have to wait a little longer in line until someone behind the counter who speaks that language can be found to translate for the citizen who’s been here a decade or two, yet doesn’t see the point of assimilating. When did that become all right?

Like I said, I long for simpler times.

Remember when a boy would ask a girl out and ladies went first? How about when we knew our neighbors’ names and saw familiar faces each time we went to the store? When being morbidly obese was a sin of gluttony and not of Ronald McDonald? When we kept our religion and politics to ourselves and would never dream of imposing our opinion on another. We preferred discourse to discord. We understood that prayer was private, sex was private (even in public if you were careful), and the government kept out of both. War was fought with honor because the reasons for going into it were valid. And we would never think of sending our soldiers to battle with faulty equipment or sans the proper protection. America had too much pride for that.

Then again, those were simpler times.

Today’s culture seems comprised of solo acts. It’s all “me” and “I”, with rarely a “we” in sight. Community? I can’t tell if that’s an antiquated concept or something so arcane that I’ve missed it. Co-operation and collaboration? Only if there are contracts involved or profits at stake. I’m having a hard time accepting that. I was hoping that the pendulum would swing back to the middle and we’d all be working together for our betterment. When did I, the cynic, become so naïve? Or it is hopeful?

Boob jobs for a teenager’s birthday and $300 pairs of jeans are just beyond me, especially when a tank of gas nearly costs that much. Perhaps this state of culture is merely evolution. Perhaps our parents posed the same existential questions. Or maybe, we, as a culture, are just spiraling out of control and into our own extinction. I don’t know. Perhaps all is swell and I am simply a freak, period. That is quite possible. All I really do know is at the end of the day, if you want to reach me, call me at home. My cell phone will be off.

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