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Plus ça change, plus c’est la meme chose. Duh.



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The evolution of... us.   

 

 

 

The evolution of... us.

Naturally, when I can hear Panic! At the Disco as clearly out of my daughter’s headphones as I can as if it were coming out of the CD player speakers, I turn around and nudge her –

All right, rewind (hey, rewind – that suits our topic – back to that later) since this IS a blog about reality, I’ll tell you “the reality.

First, I will hopelessly raise my voice, even though the “any reasonable person” test would fail. Duh. Why would I even think she could hear me?

Then, despite oncoming traffic, and my meager driving skills, (having spent WAY too much time in NYC, where a car is actually a burden, unless you’re my grandmother, and you have a summer place AND a suburban house – oh, wait, she had drivers, too, scratch that – back to the fact that I SUCK at driving)  I will turn around and raise my voice again, in the incredibly stupid hope that the louder I am, the better she will be able to read my lips.

This is fruitless, because she is not only rocking out, but also poring over the densely-packed Panic! At the Disco lyrics I printed out for her from the Internet before we left, so she’s bobbing her downturned head.

Is her little sister helping me out, with a nudge, or a shove? No. She is observing, amused, because SHE is intelligent enough to see the futility of my behavior, but not the danger — until I turn back to face the windshield and turn the wheel back so that we’re back on OUR side of the highway, thank you very much.

“Mom!” they join in chorus as the van whips them both suddenly sideways.

“Ah,” I say smugly. NOW I have their attention. And: enough with the volume. Turn it down or go deaf.

Personally? I feel completely hypocritical.

I myself blasted music in my own ears as a kid.

No headphones in MY house, though. Headphones were inherently rude. Want to sequester yourself from the family? You’ve got a room for that, dear.

So I’d go. I’d face the speakers toward each other, with room just enough for my head, lie down between them, play my music as loudly as possible without disturbing everyone else in the house, and achieve maximum eardrum damage at the same time.

When CDs first came out, I remember hearing someone tell someone else in our house: “I’M not going to replace my record collection. These compact discs are just going to be fad, like 8-Tracks or Betamaxes.” (Always a lurking observer; like “Harriet the Spy,” I was always listening, and if I was not heard, I was seldom seen, even in plain sight.)

A comment all but forgotten until I stumbled upon a very old cassette (it was Junk Week in our neighborhood) of Jesus Christ Superstar. Thinking my daughter, who is obsessed with Andrew Lloyd Webber (why, heaven only knows; I really have to turn her on to Puccini, from whom the man steals everything), would be interested, I scrounged up a cassette player somewhere and pressed PLAY.

What a tremendous drag, having to rewind and fast-forward to the spot you want to hear!

My youngest was baffled at the clunkiness of the technology, repeatedly asking me: “What… what are you DOING, Mom? Can’t you just FIND it?”

As if she didn’t remember me having to rewind all her “Big Comfy Couch” VCR tapes.

Change is frightening when it comes barging rudely into our lives. We, in this age of technology, are constantly being thrown new ideas, and having to catch them or feel bypassed.

Even TV commercials mock us: “26 million people just Twittered this. Another 26 million don’t know what that means.”

My daughter begged me for an EnV phone, with a keyboard for texting. At the time, I thought it was a ridiculous splurge. Now she texts me so often I want one myself, just to keep up. People text me more than they talk to me.

“Google” is now a verb. MS Word has destroyed my spelling skills, because my brain works like this: if I don’t HAVE to store it, it gets dumped, to make room. Now I know I can Google something, or have Word spell it for me, or my little calculator do math for me.

When my Internet goes out, I’m lost.

But when I first got online, I couldn’t imagine what I’d ever do with it.

Now I can’t live without it. Well, okay, I could. But I sure would miss it.

Still, as different as all this seems: what’s really different?

I use Google the same way I used to call the reference desk at my local library.

I use MS Word the same way I used to use my College dictionary.

I use Twitter the same way I use the world: I’m gregarious to the point of ridiculous; I can hardly leave the house without making a friend, and my house is usually full of people to the point where I wonder sometimes if I’m a magnet and they’re all iron filings.

In a good way.

The French have a saying. (Actually, practically the entire language is sayings; it’s mostly the reason they’d just rather speak your damn English.)

Plus ça change, plus c’est la meme chose.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Hmmm….

But things DO change. And if you’re looking for a very good, commonsense approach to dealing with change, here’s an excellent article on The Huffington Post from a correspondent/acquaintance of mine: Tom V. Morris – from Twitter, of course.

But remember: they stay the same, too. So relax. 

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I’m with stupid.


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I'm with stupid. Thank goodness.

I

It takes someone really, really intelligent to pull off stupid.

I don’t mean your ordinary, garden-variety stupid — the kind of stupid I encounter like this:

Me, to my dog, Tucker:Arrêt. Assieds. Viens ici.” (Meaning, in informal French, “Stop. Sit down. Come here.” More about this later.*)

Onlooker (or is it “onlistener?”): “Your dog speaks French?”

Me: (struggling to restrain myself from flicking their head with my thumb and forefinger) “Well, he’s really terrible at correcting my French, I’ll say that much. But mostly he’s a good listener.”

Because dogs don’t speak ANYTHING, DUH.

So I don’t mean THAT kind of stupid. We’re all immersed in THAT kind of stupid everyday, and actually we can view it positively.

especially when we do something that makes us feel developmentally disabled, like struggle for an embarrassingly long time pushing on a door you’re supposed to pull, when you tuck your skirt into your pantyhose, or when some joker at the party ruins your joke by saying something annoying like “What do you mean you don’t remember the binomial theorem?”

especially when we do something that makes us feel developmentally disabled, like struggle for an embarrassingly long time pushing on a door you’re supposed to pull, when you tuck your skirt into your pantyhose, or when some joker at the party ruins your joke by saying something annoying like “What do you mean you don’t remember the binomial theorem?”

We can feel like geniuses, especially when we do something that makes us feel developmentally disabled, like struggle for an embarrassingly long time pushing on a door you’re supposed to pull, when you tuck your skirt into your pantyhose, or when some joker at the party ruins your joke by saying something annoying like “What do you mean you don’t remember the binomial theorem?”

Or worse, when you’re wasting time online and get sucked into those horrid IQ tests, and realize that you really aren’t even dull normal. (Why don’t I know the capital of Greenland? Did I ever? Do I need to? Does anyone else? Do they even, in Greenland?)

Still worse is when your nine-year-old comes to you with her math homework, and you — you, who began your own college career as a math major before you realized you didn’t have the imagination for it and became a writer instead — goggle at it, desperately turn the workbook upside-down in the hopes that perhaps that will help, and then feign a casual shrug, rationalize that you are encouraging their independence and say: “We learned math a different way when I was in fifth grade. I suggest you ask your teacher.”

Okay. So now that we’ve ruled out the kind of stupid I don’t mean, let’s talk about the kind of stupid I do mean.

I have enormous admiration for actors like Brenda Song, Suzanne Somers, and Ashton Kutcher, all of whom play, or have played, characters who are so dim they border on nearly retarded, were they to inhabit real life. It takes an extremely intelligent actor to pull that off.

You can tell, because less intelligent actors try to do it and it just doesn’t work. They actually ARE stupid, and it shows.  The jokes aren’t funny, the timing is off, the whole thing falls flat.

Two days ago, my older daughter, who is 12 going on 22, and I, were having a very funny exchange, making fun of each other because she is a golden blonde who dyes her hair red, and I am a redhead who dyes her hair blonde.

(I do this, not for the blonde thing, but because my naturally auburn hair grows in dark – but the very second I step into the sunlight – winter or summer – my hair lightens considerably, making it LOOK as if I color my hair. So I figured, what the heck, why not play?)

Hence, blonde jokes are inevitable. Now: my oldest has developed a rapier wit that leaves you bleeding before you even feel the knife. I’m funny, but her dad is funny too – in a very dry way. She’s gotten the best of both. She’s a colossus of brainy humor, and you NEVER see it coming.

I am at the stove, obediently cooking bacon for the girl, who is growing like a beanstalk and already towering like a willow over me. She is sitting on the kitchen island, swinging her long legs, sitting bolt upright, hands crossed over her chest, lips pursed.

“I don’t know if I can eat that,” she says, in a too-sweet voice. “Is bacon a meat?

Not quite catching on yet, I turn a head. “Boy, you really ARE blonde.”

“Well,” she continues, à la Valley Girl, “I’m re-evaluating my commitment to meatatarianism.”

I hop onto the stupid train with her. “Well, it’s a spiritual thing, you know. A real commitment has to last, you know, like, at least, like, a few hours, at least – you know?”

“Are you a vegetarian?” she asks, big blue eyes wide.

“I don’t know,” I respond helplessly.

She tilts a sympathetic head. “It’s Oh-Kay…” she says, extending the vowels, “everyone experiments sexually.”

I was gone after that. Not only was I flabbergasted that my 12-year-old could make such a clever joke, but I was delighted that she was intelligent enough to play stupid so very well.

* I speak French to my dog for two reasons: one, he is more intelligent than most humans, and once I taught him all the commands in English, he got bored, so I decided to reteach him everything in French. The other reason is that I don’t have anyone else to speak French to, so I speak French to him.

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