It's been a bumper crop truckload of My Sides kind of day... and now it's time for another. That's right. It's storytime! Storytime, kids! Everybody gather together because it's storytime! ("Tim, you may not drink a large Sprite. You'll be farting all through the story and then have to take a leak!")
I love Garrison Keillor. I listen to his show. I own his cds. Right now, I'm reading his book, Lake Wobegon Days, given to me by Megan - of all people. His stories remind me of the power of storytelling and also of the power of human love, tolerance, and hope.... basic hippy shit. When other people think of GK, however, they think: "down home", "small town", "hick", "country bumpkin", and even thinking of him as a southerner though he's a native of Minnesota, the location of his Lake Wobegon.
I often read at work and I'm always surprised at how people's opinion of me will change by the book they see me reading. Judging a person by the book cover, so to speak. When I was reading Michael Moore, people spoke to me as if I was generally intelligent but dangerously subversive. When I was reading Neil Simon's memoirs, they thought I must be very interested in theater... and a snob. Now that I'm reading GK, I'm talked to as if I haven't a gray cell to think with and like chewing on hay. Having always been a populist, I don't mind that at all.
Still, it strikes me as funny.
Vicky and I went to a barbeque this weekend. It was held at the very nice (expensive but when in Southern California isn't?) home of her friends, Trish and Clay. Tim and Jennifer were there. Jennifer 2 was there also with (I'm guessing) John. Chris was there with his daughter or severely underaged girlfriend. Kids were there as well. Folks were already there when we arrived. They were sitting around one table and Vicky and I had to sit around another. This was fine because it gave me a chance to be something of an observer.
And here's what I observed.
They were all white. White white. I'm talking white, Jack. Some of them spoke with southern accents.
Now, when you live inside my head, where people speaking in educated tones in proper english with things of import to debate.... hearing people talk about how men like to hear things go "BOOM"... is disconcerting. Not to stretch a point, it's just, plain wrong. As an unjust war is waged and an unpopular regime is place in Iraq, these people were talking about how good their deep-fried turkey was.
It didn't take long for me to notice that their hair on the back of my neck was up... even some cockles. "There's a whole world out there," I wanted to say. "Look at what's going on around you!" But I would have just as much success if my name was Cassandra. And it struck me that this must be what most of America was like. Not debating the present administration, not preaching the merits of existentialistic Kantian Buddism, these people were simply enjoying what life they were given as people had since the dawn of time. Most of humanity cannot devote the time or gray matter to being great thinkers. Most of humanity procreates with the hopes that their children might be one of the great thinkers. Is this downright wrong and irresponsible? Of course, it is! But you can't change that any more than you can stop evolution with a straw and spit wads.
Later, as they sat together and wasted precious, natural resources for their own incendiary amusement, I watched them sit together, laughing and joking. And I thought, let's face it, none of them are killing anyone. They're not molesting their children... at the moment... They're not stealing or beating or even making racial slurs. Okay. So they're not ready to ascend Olympus. They also weren't ready to pass through the gates of Cerebus, either. They were just people and if they committed the sin of intellectual laziness, there were plenty of others that were far worse for which they were not guilty.