June 30, 2009

Boys are Dumb, Throw Rocks at Them

My daughter is 13, soon to be 14. In some ways she is going on 40, in other ways going on 6. She is in that beautifully awkward place between woman and child, that place that seems awkward, but really is more like a tightly closed bloom. Beautiful in its own way. She still plays with dolls, but she leafs through Vogue. Lacking the confidence to design for herself, she designs for the dolls, stitching and accessorizing, creating a fashion parade.

Boys exist, but with the view of a Disney movie of the week. They are something she will someday kiss, but today she is content to text with them. I'm not naive, I know there are "other girls" kissing, but she isn't one of them. She has a true innocent charm.

This morning, at the store, she received a text from a boy she is friends with. They sometimes hang out as part of a group and often get teased that they like each other. He's a nice, funny, geeky boy. In other words, I approve. He lives behind us. He sent her a text, "Will U go out with me?" In teen vernacular, that means "be my sweetheart", not go on a date, since she isn't allowed to date and neither is he.

Panic ensued. She couldn't answer him without a text conference with every female she knows. I suggested a quick phone call, which was answered with an eyeroll and the comment "Calling is so nerdy, mom!" I ignored my obvious lack of cool and said very calmly, "Honey, do you like him?"

Her crimson face looked back at me and she nodded, shyly. I said, "Then the simple answer is yes." Apparently her tribe of girlfriends sent in their endorsements and so she texted him back, those three letters. Y E S.

About five minutes later, he texted her back, "U do no I was joking, don't U?" Rounding the candy aisle, her eyes welled up and her crimson deepened.

I said, "You do know he's got a lame way of finding out if you like him first, right?"

She fumed, "I'm just so mad. He tricked me. What should I say?"

Thinking that the joke is on him, I suggested, "Why not text him back, Well I wasn't."

She did. He hasn't replied. She wants to text him back a million other explanations. I told her to let him feel as stupid as he acted. Leave it at that and resist the urge to overexplain.

Now you and I know, he is sitting there thinking, "Oh fudge, what an idiot I was."

June 26, 2009

Child Stars

The unexpected passing of Michael Jackson quickly upstaged the expected passing of Farrah Fawcett. I suspect for years there will be speculation that the Three Kings; him, Elvis, and the Lizard King wander not the Orient, but convenient stores in the midwest, never aging, but specters of Madame Tussaud's visions.

I remember watching the Jackson 5 cartoon and singing along with ABC, it seemed as easy as 123. Then in high school, Thriller hit the charts and no school dance was ever the same. We all tried pathetically to moonwalk while wearing zippered jackets and parachute pants. As if we could capture the mystique that was MJ.

Then, he got weird. Really weird. He carved his face with plastic surgery, lightened his skin and appeared more and more androgynous each month. He married, divorced, dangled children from balconies, and built a Neverneverland tribute to his seeming lost childhood. Did he ever have a chance to be normal? He entertained us, but he always seemed like a lost soul. In his attempt to capture the youth he never had, he stole the youth of others. My skin crawled and my heart cried. The manchild was neither, he became one of the monsters from his Thriller video.

That's the thing with child stars. So few grow up to be adjusted adults. From Judy Garland to Robert Blake, from Danny Bonaduce to Britney Spears. These wind-up machine children who entertain adults are denied the very essence of who they are. They grow up lost, confused and exploited. They don't learn impulse control because the adults around them are so busy milking their money train they don't realize they're also building a future train wreck. It's tragic.

I guess all I can hope now is that Michael Jackson really does Rest In Peace. I don't know how he could.

June 4, 2009

Idols Speak!

I have so much to say about this. As I blathered on to a friend, she said, Kim, you need to blog about this, and I hesitated. I didn't think communication with my Idol would count as a blog.

It's not even that big of a thing for jaded people. I don't worship "Hollywood". I do however count writers, and more narrowly, columnists in my list of idols. Our dearly departed Mike Royko was my first. He is one of the reasons that I wanted to write. I only dreamed of sharing my brain as well as he did.

My second Idol is Dick Feagler. A Cleveland columnist. I sat behind him in a church pew for 10 years, and never told him he was my Idol. He was merely someone I said "peace be with you" with, as we shook hands. I never had the chutzpah to tell him how much his words impacted my life.

Today, I'm older. I still idolize, despite my advanced years. I took the bull by the horns today. I am active on a social networking site. I noticed a friend of mine was friends with one of my idols. To comment in the same space as she was almost paralyzing. My respect for her cannot be captured in words. She exceeds my other idols, because she is... a she.

I sent her a note of praise and I also invited her.

She replied and accepted.

It made my day. Truly.

I'm in my 40s but my feeling today is better than the day I touched Bon Jovi. I was touched in a different way. I was touched mentally. My idol said hello and thank you.

It doesn't get any better than that.

Thank you, C.

June 3, 2009

Generous (?) Motors

This is the full text of a letter I recently sent to some local newspapers.

As General Motor’s announces bankruptcy, repeatedly, blame is cast towards the UAW and labor unions.

I liken what is happening to a wealthy parent who didn’t say “no” in time. It rarely gets mentioned when unions are attacked that all wages and benefits given to the employees are clearly outlined in a mutually agreed upon legally binding contract. There isn’t a union agreement in this nation that isn’t signed by both management and labor and authenticated by the government. That creates a system of checks and balances; a microism of our national government. This is the core of collective bargaining. Management agrees to the contractual terms as readily as the union.

To be part of a contract negotiation is no picnic. It is equally nerve wracking for either side. Every proposal is filled with opportunity, in the truest sense of capitalism. “How much can we make?” resonates on both sides. Like dealing with a rug merchant, the object is to get the best possible deal. Unlike a rug merchant, there is the future to consider. Again, I liken the bankruptcy to irresponsible parenting.

I am not suggesting the UAW is blameless. But casting blame is failure to accept responsibility in the situation. For one party to have “too much”, the other party must overindulge. Management had many chances to stand strong over the past 70 years. Closing the door after the horse ran away seems rather futile.

Unions are the best way a working class can achieve a level of life that is respectable. Management acted as an uninvolved, overly indulgent parent that threw money at its employees to keep them content. When the well ran dry, they punished their children for drinking the seemingly unending supply of water. Rather than find more water together, the companies took their bucket and found less thirsty children, abandoning the ones that had been quenched.

But to blame the unions for drinking all the water without blaming those who let the bucket splash all over the ground is unfair. They got in this mess together. Management and Labor need to come back down the hill with a full bucket of water so nobody goes thirsty.


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