One of the mantras for my life was picked up years ago, in college, and the quote was heard in the movie Serendipity. The film wasn’t seen until it came to VHS, or video tape, because DVDs had yet to break out into popularity. It’s probably was the most-watched “date movie” utilized in those years. My roommate would often ask if that movie was played, and eventually the emotion behind his words evolved from joking tone to a really-are-you-friggin’-serious statement with a playful and unsympathetic head shake.
You’re allowed to be redundant and pathetic when you’re 18. (You don’t think you are, however.)
Watching that blatantly predictable – it was written that way – romantic comedy was as convenient as going to Blue Water Grill on a date night; cue the announcer: “Yes, by going to Blue Water Grill, you and your date can enjoy the luxury that is Skaneateles and still not fret paying too much for food.”
And you have one of those dinners at Blue Water, and everything is going really well that night: taking a walk in the new dusk before dinner, listening to the water sway and admiring the stars, eating on the enclosed porch, watching fireworks conveniently shoot out from the country club, and the woman at the table next to you gives your arm a nudge and says: You planned this, didn’t you? It’s blissful, how relationships should be. How things fall into place almost smoothly and magically. Then down the road, you realize that everything is too good to be true, and you shrug your shoulders with joy and not worry about it. Then that same girlfriend tells you she’s been seeing someone else. Then you get to burn shit – letters and pictures they gave you.
“If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.”
I’m indulging in more heavy reading, because it’s helping put things into perspective. A philosophy class taken in 2oo1 stuck with me: Socrates, Plato, Nietzsche, Kant. And now a small book of Epictetus teachings is being read meditatively. The oddly titled, The Peter Principle, which boasts a 1969 copyright, only adds to the desire to learn and/or be more … cynical? speculative? insightful? incompetent?
There is a desire to study society and culture. I like to pick apart others’ idiosyncrasies as much as my own. We should be a society where we want to continue to learn, and it’s especially true – it should be – with regard to mistakes. The beginning of the latter book takes a wonderful, satirical shot at society and our incompetence. For example: we are late for something, and we make excuses when we should have left earlier. A misspelled word or forgotten comma could be the endgame for a deal. The guy at the bar continually blowing air towards his girlfriend that moves her hair across her face and grinning like a goof about it; it was probably been a while since he brushed his teeth. However, these are a bit minor when an Ebola outbreak is considered – the guy went to Africa, how he was exposed to the disease, how he had flu-like symptoms, and that he shrugged his shoulders and only figuring he might have come down with the flu. It’s a big boo-boo that shouldn’t have happened, and society and arrogance has no one to blame but ourselves.
We might have to pay for it.
It’s not to say that we should go around being and acting stupid all the time. This idiocy should come naturally. It’s funny and passable that way. (You should have saw how I tripped the other day, because paying attention to the environment while running did not happen.)
Freshman year in college is a wonderful time: you meet new people, you put on weight, you think you’re awesome when you come home during college breaks, you feel indifferent and out-of-place when you return home during college breaks, and you’ll buy a bunch of extra crap you don’t need for your dorm room. Before that, you mosey your way though the cliquey system the K-12 Grade School Handbook fails to inform you about. How my school district was broken up, we were able to feel superior in the fifth and eighth grades, because they were the top steps of the social ladders. In 12th grade, however, instead of feeling superior, we were too busy wondering: “Isn’t this over yet?”
But teenage stupidity is technically passable – I’m biting my tongue – considering the fact of still being a kid.
We did a lot of goofy, ridiculous, stupid things as kids. There is far too much to talk about with this topic, but many of the classics pertained to science: bats and batteries and trajectory (physics), paper and fires and wooded areas (chemistry/environmental studies), burning insects with magnifying glasses (chemistry/entomology), and the mere fact of living life and falling in love (biology).
Cooties used to run as rampant as Ebola eventually may – What? Too soon? – and the playground was filled with pesky girls that we boys failed to acknowledge having crushes on. And they forced us to hand out those paper Valentines. In retrospect, it can be confirmed that my first crush developed around second or third grade. It was clearly obvious that I liked another girl in fifth grade, but we can dance around my denial. But girls and kissing were considered gross back then.
I was just as awkward in high school and at work, the M.O.S.T., where I met others from different school districts that were acknowledged as much more attractive than my fellow Wildcat crop. While taking apart a K’NEX construction, I almost beaned some girl in the back of the head with a peanut-sized piece that flew like bullet-speed shrapnel. My game didn’t get any better from there; it still hasn’t.
We also have to consider the direction of society, technology, and everything else that makes life easier. There have been a few recent notions with “the big picture.” It’s noticed that people are riding motorized Segway-esque machinery around their yards to mow and distribute fertilizer.
How fucking lazy is society getting?
The guys riding these machines are around my age, give or take a couple years. I can understand “working smarter, not harder” (in my poor, dopey Bullwinkle impersonation), but there is a line. It can be understood that such efficiency can get more lawns done. But, c’mon: Chores and yard work are meant to incorporate exercise. Has everyone ignored the warning signs in Wall-E? If the company does not have the day booked up, it just means more time for the worker to be more idle.
While chatting with a match on OkCupid, we came to terms with being chat buddies because of our view on children. She doesn’t want them; I do. And we see eye-to-eye on the issues surrounding the whole bringing children into the world. The planet is overpopulated. The society that surrounds us focuses more on the negative than the positive. Humans and dolphins may be two species that have sex for the pure joy of it, but the former are the only species on Earth that ignores Darwinism and allows stupid people to breed … over and over and over again. (There are plenty of moral issues surrounding these topics, and I could go back-and-forth for sometime and see both sides, but this is where the topic is going to be left.)
And spending our time online inhibits proper societal interaction and development. Texting, sexting, all various social media outlets – they’re all great, but they are not as great as the real thing – the real-time and live communication that helps perpetuate life. There are plenty of us who have had to move out of the way for some dolt on their cellphone, because they didn’t know how to walk and text at the same time. It happened to me the other day, and there was
a little anticipation (save crossing my fingers) for her to walk into a Wegmans display and knock it over; instead she pinged back-and-forth between the two sides of the aisle – and carts – like a pinball.
And Wegmans wants to incorporate drinking in their stores. Hysterical. It’s bad enough the cellphone dependent can’t talk to a cashier properly, so now it’s okay to drunk call or text while ringing out.
“Hey … Hey! Hey, honey, guess where I am … Nope … Nope … Wegmans! Yeah! … I know! Hey, listen, you should see the size of this bell pepper that I got. I also got, like, this rad- … radick, hmm, rad — I don’t know the name of it but it looked pretty awesome. It’s like a bowling ball. By the way, can you come and pick me up? I need a ride.“
We all have the right to be ourselves, to make mistakes – to make them valiantly – and to learn from them. We learn about ourselves and each other every day, whether we want to or not. The issue is that we have to be cognizant of it, we have to be observant, and these simple aspects might take a bit more effort than one would like since we’re all required to take a step back and let things happen naturally.
Christopher Malone plays with more thoughts and words at his blog, The Infinite Abyss(es), and at Kinani Blue. He can also be found creating worlds and playing with invisible objects with the Syracuse Improv Collective. Feel free to tweet at @Chris___Malone, or email him at [email protected].