Wednesday, January 14, 2009

More On My New Year's Resolution

I mentioned in passing a couple of posts back that one of my foremost goals for this year was to develop a more progressive and modern outlook, and preferably one that was genuinely heartfelt. This is not an official or particular New Year's Resolution--those never have an air of reality about them, so I don't even bother to make them--but the sense of this necessity was weighing upon me urgently throughout the holiday season, and as it did not go away when it the holidays ended, I have chosen to assume it has some association with the changing of the calendar, and to be respectful of that possibility.

My real desire, of course, is to become somehow more compatible with people so that I can have friends, a normal social life, be welcomed into the bosom of a culture, or subculture that actually has an existence, whose members at least have a modicum of above-average intelligence, and whose particular cruelties and hatreds I can somewhat work with. Given my personality defects and total inability to converse with people this is unlikely to happen anyway, but one must make some effort, and the confused, outdated, socialist-populist-patriotic-with-socially-conservative-instincts stance I've been drifting into these last few years is not going to cut it in the 21st century among the kinds of people who are my most plausible hope for being, if not friends with, at least cordial and mutually respectful acquaintances. Henceforth I am determined to go all in on the major liberal social issues; hopefully if I commit myself to doing this wholeheartedly I will sooner rather than later come to see the absolute righteousness of them that has been so clear to their more impassioned advocates--and my natural friends and intellectual circles manques--for years. There is also the promise that I might find letting go of my reservations and pinched, antique attitudes liberating, that my mind will be able to breathe and expand and be able to operate better with a clearer, more correct and more serene comprehension of what is really happening, or should be happening.

I also misread for many years the seriousness of the whole you-are-what-you-eat social dynamic, and by my dogged adherence to french fries and soda as dietary staples have consigned myself by degrees to total social isolation from the people among whom I naturally belong. I had a rather sad encounter the other day in the cafeteria where I work. A woman with whom I had attended my orientation when we began there 11 years ago and whom I rarely see anymore happened to be in there as I was ordering some kind of meat sandwich on white bread. She is about my age, seemingly of a similar background to me, attended a similar eastern private college, similar humanities degree, year abroad, etc, etc. I consider her to be good-looking, as she has an attractive and intelligent face, though as she is short and more of the marriageable than the bombshell type she is not the sort the guys ever talked about much in an inappropriate way around the water cooler. At this orientation we were, it seemed to me, not only social and cognitive equals more or less, but possessed of a natural affinity. We were of the same kind and class of people. This equality, and this affinity, is no more. She is now a polished professional who has steadily moved up, and figures to continue to move up, through the ranks of the organization. Perhaps most tellingly of all, when she enters the cafeteria, she always goes without hesitation right to the salad bar and the spring water fountain--as do all the successful and upwardly mobile employees of the organization. The only people hanging around the grill with me are obvious proles, most of them overweight. Some of the girls getting buffalo burgers are cute, sure, but they are not drawn from the even minimally cultivated classes, and most are/were single mothers before getting out of their teens. I have unwittingly marked myself off to my professional betters as belonging to the class of the unspeakables. Salad?--Arugula?--Pesto(?)--12-Grain Bread?--What? I don't even know where to begin with the eating. Is there any hope I can make my back across the great food divide to my rightful social circle?

Is People's Eyesight Improving? My two oldest sons are five and six and they can identify objects in the third story windows of buildings across a four lane street. When I was five I already had coke-bottle glasses and couldn't make out objects ten feet in front of me without them. My wife had glasses by that age too. I don't notice too many kids with glasses in my children's schools either. Maybe one or two per class at most. I remember there were at least six kids in my first grade class who had them, and by third grade it was probably close to 40 percent of the students. My wife thinks the increased frequency of breastfeeding may be a cause for this improvement. I believe it is supposed to help in this area somehow, but I can't believe that is the whole cause, because plenty of people still don't do it. Baby formula has probably improved too; the diet of yuppie children is probably much better than it was 35 years ago (see above), but the majority of the population seems to be eating worse.

70's Parties. I don't know why I am bringing this up, but I have been dipping into some various reading material from and about the 70s recently, and it was just amazing to me to read the accounts of ordinary 30something suburban people, with children and so on--just like me--going to barbeques and neighborhood parties where they proceeded to do things like snort cocaine and strip naked and get into the hot tub with their neighbors, their neighbors' wives, people from the office, whomever. Can you imagine? Do regular people still do this somewhere? (they sure don't in my town).

No comments: