If you think I was too harsh on Christmas and families and Christmas-with-families last week, consider this:
On one of these recent holiday outings, I was obligated to spend three painful hours with a young man who:
* Was wearing boardshorts and flip-flops (in December).
* Didn’t greet us when we arrived or say goodbye when we left.
* First whine-ily refused to eat dinner, then, with a heavy sigh, slammed some food on a plate and went back to watching a Home Alone marathon, leaving the rest of us, including his elderly grandmother, at the dining room table. (“He’s busy downloading some computer games,” his mother meekly explained.)
* Was completely silent for the entire evening — except twice: First, he sprang to life at the mention of The Hobbit and lectured us about those 44 frames per second. (“If you can’t handle 3D, stay home.”)
* Second, when my husband mentioned our new favorite burger joint, the kid piped up that it was “s*it” because they “serve American cheese.” (Had the same cheese been called “Tibetan,” I guarantee he’d have asked for two slices.)
Now some of your are saying:
“Kathy, it sounds like you were a pretty petulant, taciturn teenager, too. Give the boy a break!”
Did I forget to mention this “boy” is 33 years old?
At that “boy’s” age, Jesus had risen from the dead.
This unemployed man-child lives with his mommy and daddy and can barely rise from the couch.
And when I was his age, I’d faced a much worse recession straight out of college — he’s recently graduated (again), this time from (you’ll never guess) journalism school! — and I still managed to get (and keep) a job.
Along with a revolving cast of irresponsible, eccentric roommates, I also lived in an uninsulated, illegal apartment out beyond the last eastbound streetcar stop, with a leaky roof and a mouse-infested couch. (You could feel them running back and forth under your butt…)
And I’d have lived in a bus shelter rather than move back “home.”
You don’t need me to add that this “kid” I’ve been talking about is a big science-fiction fan who reads comic books, do you?
(Sorry: graphic novels. Yeah, I know: Maus won the Pulitzer Prize. That was twenty years ago.)
I’ve said it before: Science-fiction fans, “graphic novel” readers, and computer-game addicts rarely amount to anything, despite (or because of) the man-hours they waste fantasizing about heroic adventures.
You’d think with all that non-stop inspiration, these “men” would be resourceful, honorable, accomplished individuals.
They aren’t, of course. Their brains are crammed with useless information about plastic toys and make-believe aircraft.
They’ve never watched a movie older than Star Wars and don’t read books that aren’t franchise tie-ins.
They think old Twilight Zone plots are profound. They cultivate narcissistic food-related affectations and other neurotic First World “problems.”
They’re boors and they’re bores.
And everyone reading this knows at least one of these “kids.” They are legion.
“Men” like this are funny and cute in movies like The 40-Year-Old Virgin.
In real life, these lazy, unambitious, cowardly boys — I call them “unmanned drones” — are a threat to national security and America’s future — one that may only be altered if we rediscover America’s past.
Thanks to Glenn Beck’s contagious enthusiasm, more and more Americans have been rediscovering their own history.
I may be just a lowly Canadian, but I didn’t have much rediscovering to do.
It’s the eternal refrain of every Canadian schoolkid: “Our history is SO boring compared to the Americans’!” And we’re right.
What kind of national slogan is “Peace, order and good government”?
Official campaigns to get us excited about our own story merely emphasized our comparative mediocrity (and carried a whiff of that knee-jerk anti-Americanism that too many Canadians cultivate).
Check it out: Jackie Robinson played in Montreal for one whole season!! Look! The guy who co-invented Superman lived in Toronto as a kid!!
Those corny commercials couldn’t compete with Schoolhouse Rock segments about the Revolution. (I can still recite the Preamble.)
We read Johnny Tremain in Grade Seven (for some reason), and that cemented my fascination with U.S. history.
As I got older, it was impossible not to reach the same conclusion as so many had before me:
That Providence had surely had a hand in the creation of our neighbor to the south.
How else to explain those stirring documents like the Declaration of Independence that seem almost divinely inspired?
And what are the odds that so many extraordinary men — Washington, Jefferson, Franklin — all “happened” to be in the same place at the same time, and were all willing to commit treason and risk certain death for a cause they believed in?
Looking for a superhero? Try your first president.
He was called “the Indispensable Man,” and those who told fibs to boost his reputation — all that “cherry tree” stuff — wasted their time.
George Washington’s real life doesn’t need embellishment to inspire.
Ruthlessly self-disciplined even as a boy, Washington held himself to staggeringly high standards.
He’d return from battle, his clothing pitted with bullet holes — yet he’d sustained not a single injury.
Washington could’ve been crowned the king of his new nation, but famously turned down the job.
And don’t panic, Millennials: He even had a “dark” side, just like Batman!
“Self-improvement” was a mania among the Founding Fathers and others who lived in their time, as part of that whole “pursuit of happiness” thing.
They were dedicated to almost-forgotten concepts like honor and duty, although a very modern goal — fame — was something they thought a great deal about too.
Surely one’s time is better spent learning about, and from, these extraordinary men than killing one more imaginary, two-dimensional zombie?
(Hint: Like shooting? Learn to use a real firearm!)
I expect to hear from more than a few men that their incentive to better themselves, and thereby attract a marriageable young woman, is non-existent.
Between the easy availability of porn, the high cost of divorce, and the reported paucity of non-slutty, non-shallow females on the market, why bother?
A “life” wasted debating the niceties of the “Prime Directive” with other male geeks is, when viewed from that perspective, actually quite rational.
Which is why I’ll be picking on my fellow females in my next installment…
Previously from Kathy Shaidle: