Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Old Man Ramblings

DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fiction inspired by real complaints.

I don’t know nothing bout this hurry everyone seems to be in. I seem to remember a time when people could wait ten seconds for change without giving the clerk a dirty look. Just the other day at the corner store, an elderly old Indian man was baggin my purchase. Dot Indian, not feather Indian. Then he takes my money and makes change. He was no spring chicken, and the whole process was slowed down by the fact there was only a small opening in this thick, vaguely cloudy glass that was put up between us. I reckon it’s bullet proof. Well anyways, the whole point of the story is these kids behind me said, plain as day for all to hear, “This old man is slow.” Two girls in shorts so high-up they have to worry about two hairstyles.

I remember Andy Rooney talking about something like this in the eighties, bout how we’re surrounded by modern convenience and robots that do most of our work and how Americans have more free time than anybody in history. We got machines to wash our dishes, machines to wash our clothes, and of course machines to make those machines. We can order a pizza, a pair of shoes, and a new car by phone or even online, I guess... not that I’d know how. Yet despite all this “progress,” we’re all in a big hurry. I don’t know what it is that people are in such a hurry for. Then again I don’t have to worry bout two hairstyles.

Of course, maybe people is just more ornery these days. More ill tempered. More… unrestrained. Maybe that’s our fault, my generation’s. We made all these machines to do jobs better, faster, more efficient. Pretty soon the world got so efficient, there ain’t no room left for some of us. Some of us are old models. We’re being phased out, as they say. Out with the old, in with the new. Then again, they don’t make em like they used to. I remember my daddy sayin them exact same words to me when I was sittin down to watch Howdy Doody in the fifties. My dad’d rant bout how kids today have no work ethic, how we were slackers. And thems were the fifties. I thank the Good Lord he never lived to see the late sixties.

Except they do make em like they used to. We’re still the same old folks. We didn’t improve or progress none. We still have drinkin problems, drug problems, too little religion, too much religion. We hurt each other, but I can’t say I’m surprised none, considerin we hurt ourselves. “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” Maybe the Good Lord need revise that little phrase to mean "do what others expect of ya." Course some people you can’t talk to bout right and wrong, say it don’t exist. Well I tell ya, if you don’t know what’s right and what’s wrong, I hope you’re one of the models bein phased out.

Aw hell, I don’t know what I’m talkin bout. There ain’t no one to blame but ourselves, really. We raised the ones who raised the ones who raise hell now, as we speak. Shootin up schools and shoppin malls like they were galleries. Course not really much space for most of these kids. Where I grew up, you couldn’t see the nearest house from your own porch. Wasn’t nothin to set up a few cans on a fence post and shoot em off. I remember I used to imagine they was Indians. Feather this time. Spose that was mighty insensitive of me, by today’s standards. But that’s what it was back then, cowboys and Indians.

We had a clear sense of right and wrong. Maybe some of what we thought was right wasn’t. No shame in admitting you was wrong. Them Indians, they got a tough deal. Isn’t much more you can say bout it, since ain’t no one offerin to give it back. Shoot, can you imagine a bunch of Indians in feathered headdresses marching up to Washington D.C., right up to the steps of Congress or maybe even the White House, and demanding Long Island be returned to them? Course Long Island is full of Jews. You’d think on account of Israel and the Holocaust and all, they’d be understandin. I’m sure them ideals of compensation, sacred land, and birth right don’t extend too far outside their own interests.

Then again, maybe they don’t need borders to define their own county. Mexicans been slowly but surely reclaiming the Southwest. Maybe we oughta let em. Maybe when they write the history books centuries from now they’ll talk bout how America really became free here and now. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if we become so free that we ain’t one big country no more. Seems like we’s already speakin different languages. We got all kinds of different cultures, not just from outside, but new ones from within. I seen a little girl in church last week pull up her shirt to fidget with something on her belly. At first I couldn’t believe it was a piercing, the kid couldn’ta been more than ten. I don’t know where we’re goin, but I know we’re goin there fast.

I hope I’m just slow. Wouldn’t mind being left behind.


  1. "Two girls in shorts so high-up they have to worry about two hairstyles."

    I don't get it...

  2. Where else might they have hair they need trimming?

  3. Very cute, and a lot of truth stuck in there with the humor!

  4. their ears?


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