Sunday, June 2, 2024

The Secret of Life

Image by Nuno Lopes from Pixabay

This weekly column consists of letters written to my perspicacious progeny  the Stickies — to advise 'em now and haunt them after I'm deleted.

Trigger Warning: This column is rated SSC-65: Sexy Seasoned Citizens   



Featuring {Dana}Persistent auditory hallucination and charming literary device 

"I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky." -Slick Willy

Dear Stickies (and gentlereaders),  

Sorry this column is late, life in the South of France moves at a leisurely pace. Pretending to be rich Eurotrash for the last month or so has been fun, but I'm running out of money. 

I should be home by now but I'm still here, in France I mean. The pic of the Eiffel Tower is deceptive in that Collette and I have yet to visit the Louvre or the city wherein it's located. 

We're currently staying at a remote chateau that belongs to a reasonably wealthy native who has fortunately managed to avoid the downsides of inherited wealth who/whom we happened to meet at a McDonald's of all places. 

He's a conservative family man and I'm advising him on finding a place to spend the summer back in the U.S. with his family as he wants his kids to see what America is actually like as opposed to how it's presented by the world's media.

He finds America fascinating and as mystified as I am as to how it is the Donald paying hush money to a well-known and enthusiastic professional could result in being convicted of committing dozens of felonies. I recently came across the phrase Bananas Republic on the Worldwide Web of Contradictory Knowledge.

The following Cranky's on a vacay column is from 2016, but it's been considerably edited, altered, and updated.      

The secret of life is that so-called real life is just high school with money. Once you embrace this notion, much becomes clear.

When I was in school, I noticed a phenomenon that hasn't changed. Much has obviously changed since I graduated from high school in 1971 and the subsequent, but unrelated, beginning of the collapse of Western Civilization in 1972 — the year disco songs started showing up on the charts — but not the phenomenon I'm about to explore.

I know this because of the Stickies, all children of the new millennium, who/whom I monitor closely.


Despite my 39 documented college credits and nearly nine years of cranking out columns, I've managed to avoid becoming a master grammarian but the who vs. whom thing has always caused me trouble. I'm now too old to care all that much and I'm thinking about making who/whom company policy. 

I've helped to finance/parent/clean up after this sticky syndicate of savages, all of who/whom have turned out reasonably well...

{Wait-wait-wait. I'm certain that's a whom.}

I agree, Dana... So much for company policy. Anyway, for the record, I mention this because it was the right thing to do, not because I'm hoping they will never let a certain old crank starve, or go without high-speed internet access. 

But don't worry about me guys, I'll be OK. Now, where was I? 

As a young callowyute, I noticed that kids of only slightly different ages were often radically different creatures. Grade levels served as a reliable index. 

Every September, after another summer of working on the family farm at the family's steel mill on the Sou'sidah Pittsburgh, I exchanged my steel-toed work boots for a pair of cheap dress shoes from the local Thom McAn store and returned to school. 

{Dress shoes?}

I'm so old... When I was young everyone that went to Catholic school wore dress clothes or uniforms. Skirts only for girls with no "patent leather" shoes to prevent inadvertent immodest reflections. 

Most of the kids that were one grade level behind me seemed childish and dorky. Most of the kids that were one grade ahead were cooler than me and seemed to know something I didn't know.

[Question: Why is the American school calendar still built around an agrarian culture that no longer exists?]

As a callowyute, I was taught that at some point this process would end and that I would be a grup. All that was necessary after that was a slow but steady accumulation of skills and wisdom which I would pass on to the callowyutes in my life. 

[Of course, I wouldn't be like most grups, I'd still be cool. I'd never wear socks with sandals. I'd open a vein rather than wear an all-polyester outfit that included a white patent leather belt and shoes (and sandals with black socks). I'd only drive cool cars. Etc.]

Legally speaking, in the US at least, you can vote or become a porn star at age 18 and you can buy booze when you're 21. Science says that H. sapiens, on average, are not fully mature till roughly the age of 25. This explains a lot. 

{Let me guess, Colonel Cranky wants everyone to be 25 before they can vote, drink, or boink for bucks.}

Nope. On our current trajectory, I think that 21 and 18 will both eventually be lowered to 16. I support the current age limits to help prevent that from happening till I'm personally deleted.  

But if I were King I'd require that everyone has to pass the same citizenship test that immigrants have to pass to become naturalized citizens in order to register to vote.   

Once we finally fully mature we spend the rest of our lives waiting for the next dramatic step -- that day when we will wake up filled with wisdom, certainty, and financial security — which never actually happens. We will never actually graduate from high school.

Social/dominance hierarchies will always be a thing. Gossip/rumor/innuendo will always be a thing. The pursuit of happiness will always be a thing, but obtaining contentment is as good as it gets. 

The maturity gap between you and both the younger and older kids will narrow and the lines blur but the average reasonably well-adjusted 40-year-old, for example, will find the average reasonably well-adjusted 30-year-old lacking in specific as well as vague ways.

What will change is that most of the kids that are older than you will gradually become less cool than you are as the years go by. 

Eventually, you'll look around and decide many of the kids that are your chronological age are now also older and also less cool than you, which will make you feel pretty good... till it dawns on you that you have no shortage of contemporaries who likely feel the same way about you. 

And as the crowd of H. sapiens that are younger than you keeps growing larger, you'll be reminded of how you felt when the world was top-heavy with clueless old people — like you?

Most H. sapiens will gradually/slowly/painfully learn to share the playground with others, perhaps even pick up a bit of wisdom here and there. Many will not. We will start out confident that we won't be like our parents; that our lives will be _______, _______, and _______! Then our lives will mostly just happen to us.

Some will win, some will lose, most will tie.

You're probably in better shape than me. I'm almost 71 years old, still overthink everything and in my heart of hearts I'm the same horny, insecure callowyute destined to be a rockstar and enlightened Taoist master that I was as a young man — just (thankfully) much less so.

You will do the job, take care of the kids and the parents who are morphing back into kids, keep the car running, etc. Since it's relatively easy to fool most callowyutes/ourselves/other grups, we will all participate in a lie agreed upon (HT: David Milch). We will all pretend to be well-adjusted grups when in reality we're just high-functioning high school kids.

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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