We are a divided people: Republican versus Democrat; conservative versus liberal; urban versus rural; west versus east versus south versus north; boogie fever versus boot-scooting; real mayonnaise versus Miracle Whip; toilet paper over the top versus bottom of the roll. It seems sometimes that we Americans have very little in common.
As Ben Franklin famously said, at the signing of the Declaration of Independence: “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” With that in mind, I propose that there is common ground, if we just put our minds to it and think about the everyday events, people and situations about whom we can chant in unison; THAT’S JUST WRONG.
To put my money where my mouth is (which may entail several visits to the ATM since I have a biiiig mouth), I offer the following suggestions. You’re invited to add your own through the “comment” feature of this blog. In no particular order:
· Clothing, hair styling or accessories on dogs, cats, gerbils, snakes or chickens. My wife just had our Maltese, Max, decked out with a “faux-hawk.” hair do, sprayed in place by the groomer. Not only is this freakish, but it assaults the dignity and status of the animal. Already, the backyard squirrels have begun a campaign of taunting that is sure to leave this already neurotic critter with lasting nightmares. Another negative is that the reputation I’ve gained from neighborhood passers-by on our daily dog walks as a closeted gay man because of the little, fluffy white dog on the end of my leash can only be intensified by this “do.” Maybe I should just give up and dress like the leather-clad cop in The Village People.
Other related no-no’s include matching dog/owner outfits, dog or cat “bling” and spandex bicycle shorts on Irish Setters.
· Any product that claims, in it’s advertising, that it will “change your life.” Let’s be clear. Digital nose-hair clippers, magic pillows, exercise programs involving bungee cords and salsa music, investment schemes that promise to triple your money with no risk and bringing 12,000 satellite channels into your home for only $39.95 a month will NOT, I repeat NOT change your life. The reason is simple. The only thing truly capable of changing your life is you, with a few exceptions. Those are (a) Getting hit by lightning. (b) Winning a gazillion dollars in the lottery. (c) Having quintuplets. And the life-changing part of those events still comes down to you and what you do with what has been given/inflicted on you.
· Know-nothing know-it-alls. These include, but are not neccesarily limited to:
1. Bloated, smug, white politicians who either inherited wealth or figured out how to play the system to line their own pockets, insisting that all the poor need to do is work harder and everything will be fine.
2. Any male variety of the above (although this is a multi-racial opportunity) who claim they should have a say in women’s health issues.
3. Anyone who claims to be an expert based on listening to a radio talk show, reading a blog or getting their news from only one source. (What to use for an example? Hmmmm. Let’s see now. Oh, I’ve got it. Fox News).
4. Anyone who starts a conversation with; “It’s none of my business but . . .”
· Gluttony masquerading as a sport. Let’s be honest. Do you really believe someone who can eat 72 bags of Cheez-doodles in 8 minutes or guzzle a gallon of hot sauce without hurling in Technicolor, is an athlete? This is near the top of my “I don’t get it” list. The only explanation I can come up with is that people watch to make themselves feel better about sneaking out to the refrigerator in the middle of the night and inhaling enough calories to feed the people of Yemen for a week.
· Pharmaceutical products whose legally-mandated side effect warning takes up more than half the television commercial. You know the one, with the happy couple strolling hand-in-hand on the beach while the deep-voiced announcer-person rips through the drug’s hazards as rapidly as possible, hoping you won’t notice. “Phlegm-o-phex, mildly effective for treating annoying underarm clamminess. May cause dizziness, fainting spells, projectile vomiting, painful rectal itch, blotchy skin, hair loss, warts, gum disease, sudden kidney failure and a plague of locusts. In a few isolated cases, depending on your definition of isolated, instant death may occur. Ask your doctor, who may have already have deposited our check in his son’s college fund if Phlegm-o-phex is right for you."
· Twitter. Okay, okay, I know millions of people twit. Or is it tweeting and the people who do it twits? I get so confused. But here’s what it looks like from the outskirts of Twitsburgh. People who tweet are either:
(a) Self-obsessed. They truly believe an anxious world wants to know they had peanut butter and jelly for breakfast, bought butter lettuce instead of iceberg or are waiting in line to buy a ticket to a Lady Gaga concert.
(b) Totally without the vocabulary skills that would allow them to speak aloud to another human being, or
(c) Afraid to not jump on whatever new high-tech fad that some smirking celebrity tells them they need to be though of as “hip.”
· Fashion models so skinny they can bang their shoulder blades together. Not only are they truly unattractive, they’re like silent spokespersons for anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders. C’mon, have a cheeseburger and move up to a size one from your current size negative two.
· People wheeling oxygen tanks around the smoking section of Indian Casinos. Not only does it cancel out the benefits of the oxygen, the multitude of people flipping their Bic might spark a tragic case of spontaneous human combustion that could make the slot players look up momentarily from their own addiction.
Okay, let’s wrap this up before I move to the top of someone else’s “That’s just wrong,” list. Here’s my final rant for today.
· Anyone incapable of thinking of other people in any other terms than stereotypes. African-Americans don’t all have a sense of rhythm, girls aren’t all bad at math, Muslims aren’t all suicide bombers, geezers aren’t all cranky and people in Alabama aren’t all racist rednecks. Conservatives aren’t all heartless greedheads and liberals aren’t all patchouli-wearing business-hating woo-woos. The more we can think of each other as unique individuals, the closer we are to finding solutions to our common problems.
Can you think of more examples that are JUST WRONG? Fire away.