Everyone has got Summer Jamz but what about Fall Songs?
Here are mine.
Some reference autumn explicitly; others just make me feel it deep inside like bourbon and cider.
This is the soundtrack to which leaves fall and the air cools.
Enjoy it because it doesn’t last long.
Autumn Sweater – Yo La Tengo
“We could slip away,
Wouldn’t that be better
Me with nothing to say,
And you in your autumn sweater”
This is the song that more or less inspired this list. It makes me feel Fall-ish even when it isn’t fall.
Prior to hearing it, I didn’t even think of Fall as a musical motif. Now it seems obvious.
The album on which this song appears – I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One – is also an indie rock staple. The whole haunting masterpiece is worth a listen.
No Name #3 – Elliot Smith
“Watched the dying day
Blushing in the sky
Everyone is uptight
So, come on, night”
Elliot Smith was a genius and so many of his songs give me something to feel even if I don’t know what it is.
No Name #3 makes me feel fall. It was part of the legendary Good Will Hunting soundtrack. It actually played over the iconic “Do you like apples?” scene.
Incidentally, I’ve been looking up fall movies and Good Will Hunting appears on a lot of those lists. It is (almost subtly) an excellent fall movie, set in New England with multiple stops on college campuses.
Regardless, Elliot Smith’s entire catalog makes for good fall listening. But this song in particular.
And if I were making a winter playlist you can bet your ass “Angel In the Snow” would be on it.
Song For the Dead – Sea Wolf
“You’ll move like a tiger
Into the thicket
Claws in the dirt
You’ll sing like a cricket”
Some of my favorite lyrics right there and there’s plenty more where that came from. This song is rife with eery imagery and dark allusions. It’s also another case where I really would recommend the entire album (Leaves In The River).
On it, you’ll find two other songs I considered putting on this list – “Black Leaf Falls” and “Leaves in the River“. I find them both strangely enchanting and the latter is about getting drunk and meeting a mysterious girl on Halloween.
Choctaw Hayride – Allison Krauss + Union Station
I listen to a lot of folk and bluegrass music in the fall – often while drinking bourbon or Octoberfest beers. What better time could there possibly be for hayrides and hoedowns?
There are no lyrics in the song it just makes me feel like I was literally raised in a barn full of hay bales.
Satin In a Coffin – Modest Mouse
“Are you dead or are you sleeping?
God, I sure hope you are dead”
I put Modest Mouse on my Halloween playlist a few years back. This song is creepy for many of the same reasons “Devil’s Workday” is. Isaac Brock’s voice and banjo accompaniment makes for a disquieting sound.
And yes Good News For People Who Love Bad News is a boss album.
“The days get shorter and the nights get cold
I like the autumn but this place is getting old”
November – Tom Waits
“It only believes
In a pile of dead leaves
And a moon
That’s the color of bone”
Yeah. That’s the stuff. That’s the creepy, gravelly-voiced guy who narrates my fucking nightmares.
Give me another hit…
“November has tied me
To an old dead tree
Get word to April
To rescue me
November’s cold chain”
Mmm yeah. One more for the road…
“Made of wet boots and rain
And shiny black ravens
On chimney smoke lanes
November seems odd
You’re my firing squad”
Love you Tom Waits.
Moondance – Van Morrison
“A fantabulous night to make romance
‘Neath the cover of October skies
And all the leaves on the trees are falling
To the sound of the breezes that blow”
Here’s a random fact about me: I don’t like songs that are explicitly about sex.
I don’t consider myself especially prudish, I just don’t love hearing people sing about fucking. Not explicitly anyway. You can sing about it if you want but at least have the courtesy to couch it in a metaphor or innuendo or something.
This song is explicitly about sex. So it skeeves me out a bit. Still, I can find a way to appreciate it in the fall because it manages to capture all the smoothness and tempered excitement of the season.
I feel like fall is more romantic than it is sexy. It’s not the bikini block party summer is. It cools things down. Its flirtations and liaisons are more subdued.
I think Van Morrison captures that with this song.
Autumn Leaves – Edith Piaf (From Koye)
“C’est une chanson, qui nous ressemble
Toi tu m’aimais et je t’aimais”
In writing this post, I listened to more than a few versions of this song, including those by Miles Davis, Nat King Cole, and Eric Clapton (Speaking of which, when we get a minute can we please talk about this picture of Eric Clapton.) But this one was by far my favorite.
Phantom of the Opera Overture (From Brittany)
Yeah. Tasty. Everyone knows the first few bars of this song but it really cranks the whole way through. It really takes you places. Classic.
Thriller – Michael Jackson (From Greg)
“It’s close to midnight
and something evil’s lurkin’ in the dark
Under the moonlight
you see a sight that almost stops your heart
You try to scream
but terror takes the sound before you make it
You start to freeze
as horror looks you right between the eyes
Yes. Fuck yes. A thousand times yes.
It’s so perfect it ought to be obvious. I’m mad I didn’t think of it.
At the end of the day, it’s really the only song you need.
“From Hollywood, the dating capital of the world, in color, it’s The Dating Game.”
A heart-shaped spotlight trained on a yellow and red striped curtain. The cloth pulled apart and out strolled Jim Lange, host of the show from 1965 to 1980.
So began America’s long relationship with TV dating.
This was back when televisions were blocky, wood-paneled boxes. But today, I’m watching the show on YouTube, and little feels foreign to me – nothing outside the aesthetic anyway.
Of course, there’s the décor – the psychedelic splatters of rainbow paint (Are they flowers?) that seemed to contaminate every single surface of the 1960s. And then there’s the total lack of color, which is to say everyone involved is white. (So incredibly white.)
But aside from that, there’s nothing novel about the show. Not in the 21st century. There’s nothing new about the concept, or the tropes.
It’s by turns awkward and teasing. Some bachelors and suitors are right at home in front of an audience. They’re charming and sly, giving creative and cheeky answers. Others are nervous and uptight. They stutter through questions and brim with boring cliches.
It’s not hard to see how viewers could quickly tire of the formula.
So in came the celebrities…
Sally Field, Dick Clark, Adam West, Andy Kaufman, Tom Selleck, Michael Richards, Vincent Price, Farrah Fawcett, John Ritter, Steve Martin, Ron Howard, Bob Saget, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Jackson and Pee Wee Herman all appeared on The Dating Game.
Turns out, it’s more fun to watch famous people pick and choose prospective mates from what might be considered ordinary* folks.
The term ordinary here is obviously subjective. No ordinary person expects to find love with Farrah Fawcett (or anyone else for that matter) on a TV dating show. Most of these people are likely aspiring actors or fame-seekers themselves.
In one especially morbid incident, a contestant turned out to be a serial killer…
When Rodney Alcala, appeared on the show in 1978, he was already a convicted rapist. On the show, he was simply described as a successful photographer. He would win. And two years later, hewould be sentenced to death for the murder of at least 50 people.
“We’re gonna have a great time together Cheryl,” he intones with sly grin on his face.
“What’s your best time?” Cheryl asks.
“The best time is at night. Night time… Because that’s the only time there is.”
That wouldn’t be the last time a murderer appeared on a TV dating show, either.
In 2009, the short-lived Megan Wants a Millionaire – a spin-off of a spin-off, of a spin-off, of a spin-off – was abruptly canceled after four episodes, when VH1 learned the show’s runner-up was being sought by police in connection with a murder. Indeed, third-place finisher Ryan Jenkins had killed his wife and stuffed her body into a suitcase before taking his own life.
Surprisingly, this didn’t end VH1’s dalliances with dating shows – a long chain of increasingly depraved installments that sprouted from its sleeper hit Flava of Love, snowballed with Brett Michaels-based successor Rock of Love, and continues to this day with Dating Naked.
It’s been a long, sordid journey, no doubt… But fun to watch.
When I was a kid I routinely watched Singled-Out – MTV’s Gen-X Dating Game spoof hosted by Chris Hardwick and Jenny McCarthy. I also enjoyed watching shows like Blind Date, and its predecessor Love Connection.
Love Connection ran 11 seasons and 2,120 episodes from 1983 to 1998. Its participants could choose a partner from a group of suitors or let the audience do it for them. Then they’d come back on the next episode to review the date.
Blind Date (1999-2006) cut out the middle-man. Cameras simply followed the date around until it culminated either in the suggestion of a sexual encounter or a total disaster.
Obviously, it’s Blind Date’s disasters that were most fun to watch. When people talk about fireworks on a date they usually mean it in a good way. But when it comes to reality TV, truly luminous displays only spring from dates that crash and burn.
These disasters cast a hot, burning light on the very worst aspects of humanity – self-hate, self-pity, self-absorption, ego, overindulgence, superficiality, cluelessness and outright drunkenness.
It’s trainwreck television, where resolutions aren’t fulfilling and romantic, but rather painful and cringe-worthy.
What was really great about Blind Date, though, were the smug pop-up bubbles that would appear on the screen. These bubbles would color the experience, by shading the participants. Often times, the input came in the form of thought bubbles. Other times it was from made-up characters like Therapist Joe and Dr. Date.
This is a key element – one that I think marks the dawn of modern reality dating shows.
See, moments of embarrassment frequently arose in shows like The Dating Game and Love Connection, but they rarely had the effect of humiliating those involved. They were usually polite detours. They were mild expressions of discomfort whose spontaneity endeared the viewer to the subject. After all, most everyone can imagine being flustered upon being asked to sing a song or confess the details of a romantic tryst on television.
Blind Date was different. It put two people (albeit voluntarily) in an awkward situation. Then, after the fact, through the editing process, it provided snarky, often derisive, commentary.
It was never terribly hostile – always just a sideways glance and a “Get a load of this guy…”. And in most cases, it was easy to laugh at because the dater deserved it. Often times they acted like a legit jerk. But even if they didn’t, this is what they signed up for.
The whole artifice is fake. That’s what reality dating is, pure spectacle. The only thing real is the audience’s appetite for schadenfraude.
But again, it was Blind Date that hit on this early. The butt of the joke was no longer daters saying “butt” in a joke, it was the daters themselves.
The days of of watching TV daters merely discuss once-taboo topics is gone. Audiences long ago stopped oohing and ahhing over slick innuendo and suggestions of virility that border on threatening.
Romance and foreplay are out, humiliation and conflict are in.
The change occurred in earnest when The Bachelor turned the Dating Game into Survivor. But it really hit a crescendo with one of my favorite reality dating shows of all time: Joe Millionaire.
In this show, 20 women were convinced the bachelor they were vying for was a millionaire. But in reality, he was really just a construction worker (/model).
The highlight came when Sarah, a lawyer by day,was caught giving the bachelor fellatio in the woods at night. The camera hovered on the moonlit trees, while the subtitles “Umh, (smack), Uhm, (slurp),” ran across the bottom of the screen.
Once again: Alawyer sucked off a construction worker in the woods, the whole time thinking he had millions of dollars. It was filmed and subtitled.
Fox aired it, and the network was richly rewarded for doing so.
Joe Millionaire was a huge success, one that banked on making a mockery of would-be Bachelor contestants. The show’s audience averaged 40 million viewers, and 42% of adults age 18-to-49 tuned in for the finale – an audience bigger than all the other networks combined.
I was a freshman in college at the time and they aired it on a projection screen in the commissary.
The series ranked third in the Nielsen Ratings that year, scoring a 13.3. That came in behind CSI and Friends but ahead of ER, American Idol, Survivor, Everybody Loves Raymond, and Monday Night Football.
ABC’s The Bachelor came in at No. 16, with a 9.9.
Clearly, The Bachelor/Bachelorette failed to capture the attention of Americans the way Joe Millionaire did.
Draped in fancy clothes and wielding roses, these shows let the audience believe romance is central to the plot. But it’s really just a bougie illusion.
The Bachelor aspires to be something more elegant than it is, like a “tasteful” sex shop. It’s the old, generic, romance novel gathering dust on a shelf while copies of Fifty Shades of Grey fly out of the store.
For example, in 2014,a weeping contestant sat on a couch and asked the bachelorette that rejected him: “Knowing how in love with you I was, if you weren’t in love with me, I’m just not sure why, why you made love with me?”
And that was a watershed moment for a show that was 10 seasons deep (17 if you count the original Bachelor). Finally, the show that had stubbornly refused to acknowledge sex acknowledged sex.
That show, the season’s finale, registered a 7.5 in the ratings – about half of what Joe Millionaire pulled.
More recently, The Bachelorette enjoyed the most attention it’s gotten in decades from a character known as “Bad Chad.” Chad’s defiant attitude, bad manners, and willingness to openly question the authenticity of the medium itself actually made this show watchable and entertaining… if only for a few episodes.
Chad is ridiculous but he scored big with the audience because he called The Bachelorette’s suitors out on their phoniness. He undermined the show’s key illusion (delusion, really) that these people are being earnest in their quest for “love.”
“I don’t know yet,” he responds when The Bachelorette asks what he loves about her. “All these guys can all tell you the different things they love about you and they’ve studied about you on TV or whatever, but I don’t know.”
Then he scolds the other suitors: “You can’t be in love with her! If you are that’s weird!”
Chad is clearly trying to set himself apart as the truth-teller, but he’s also right.
Who are these saps pretending to love a girl they know nothing about? It is what Chad called “a parade of losers.”
That’s what made Chad so great… And ultimately tragic because he didn’t last long. Still, his absence was such a blow to the show that they brought him back for “Bachelor In Paradise,” a spin-off few people even knew existed prior to that announcement.
So, once more, we see America’s lust for reality dating shows that are essentially self-destructing.
And that’s why VH1 is, and forever will remain, the paragon of reality dating shows.
Yes, VH1 was peak TV dating, cranking out hit after hit, starting with Flavor of Love.
Who, if not an outdated and deranged celebrity could follow Joe Millionaire?
Why not debase reality dating contestants (and women) further by having them fight over a washed-up hype-man who at one point had a $2,600-a-day crack addiction?
Flavor of Love’s second season premiere ranked as the entire night’s most watched cable program ahead of Entourage.
It was notable mostly because a contestant literally shit on the floor. She had to poop. And she pooped on the floor.
Some 7.5 million people tuned in for the season finale.
Wanting to extend that success, VH1 followed up with Rock of Love with Bret Michaels.
For my money, Rock of Love was the greatest reality show of all time. And it’s not even close.
This show offered a coterie of shocking, amusing, and above all else, desperate contestants. But like Joe Millionaire, the man they were fighting for was something of a fraud.
Ostensibly these women signed on for the chance to date a rock star. But Bret Michaels was hardly that. When Rock of Love premiered in July 2007, Michaels was 44 years old (probably twice the age of the average contestant), divorced with two kids, and rocking hair extensions tucked beneath a bandanna. His band hadn’t been relevant in two decades.
It was clear to any viewer with perspective that this man was no prize to be won, and not just because of his moribund career. As a person, Bret Michaels could be very nice, friendly and sincere. (A friend of mine who once interviewed him, told me Michaels was just that.) But he could also be absurdly vain, thin-skinned, shallow, and self-important.
Case-in-point: Rock of Love’s defining moment came when a contestant got Bret’s named tattooed on the back of her neck in giant gothic letters. Michaels not only encouraged this but expressed physical arousel at the notion of a woman having his name permanently etched into her skin.
AND SHE DIDN’T EVEN WIN.
At the end of the show, he chose a different, far more sober-minded girl instead.
Michaels spent the entire show demanding blind loyalty, obsessive care, and uncompromised devotion from the girls competing. He repeatedly called on them to lower their emotional “walls,” to let their guard down, that he might truly connect with them and find his “Rock of Love.”
And yet, at the same time, Michaels spent multiple nights engaging sexually with those contestants that would act as groupies, but not girlfriends, only to cut them loose, as well.
(Spoiler Alert: He eliminates the one that debases herself by saying ‘Yes’ – the one with the tattoo.)
It was a fitting finale for a man who used these women as objects for his own emotional and sexual gratification, and who demanded they prostrate themselves that he might walk above them as their god.
Ultimately, the “winning” contestant chose not to pursue a relationship after the show, and Michaels asked for his cowboy hat back.
So, I say again Michaels was a fraud. He wasn’t a sensitive rock star anymore than Joe Millionaire was a business tycoon. Both men were merely fools’ gold dangled before a group of gold-diggers too desperate to even care.
That’s precisely why it’s hard, almost impossible, to feel sorry for them.
As with Blind Date, these women aren’t innocent lambs being duped by a mean-spirited TV show, but rather wanna-be-famous bimbos.
No one forced Heather to get that tattoo. And as much as she probably regrets it (she still had it as recently as 2014), she definitely did not regret the fleeting brush with celebrity it brought her. She appeared in other VH1 shows – I Love Money, competing for cash, and Charm School, in which fellow Flavor of Love and Rock of Love contestants were “taught” manners. And she even landed tiny, cameo appearances in Californication and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.
Likewise, two Flava of Love and Rock of Love contestants went on to star in dating shows of their own – I Love York and Daisy of Love.
And a third, Playboy model and Rock of Love season two contestant Megan Hauserman, was the centerpiece of Megan Wants a Millionare, in which the self-proclaimed gold digger had her pick of wealthy suitors. It was this show that was canceled after three episodes when its runner-up killed his wife and then himself.
It was thus that VH1, having plumbed the depths of TV dating, found itself covered in the purest sewage of humanity.
But again, it wasn’t deterred. The network carried on with shows featuring Chad Ochocino, Antonio Sabato Jr., Ray Jay, and The Game. Most recently it aired Dating Naked, based on the novel concept of people dating while entirely nude.
Somehow that strikes me as less crass than the average Rock of Love or Flavor of Love episode.
Meanwhile, the ever uptight Bachelor franchise continues to plod along on ABC. The big development there is that in the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Seventeen, The Bachelorette features its first black woman.
In 2014, Fox tried to duplicate its Joe Millionaire success with a new show called I Wanna Marry Harry. It convinced 12 American women that they were competing for Prince Harry, rather than a doppleganger. The show got cancelled after just four episodes.
The network also rebooted Love Connection with Andy Cohen.
Indeed, the TV dating landscape is looking rather tried these days.
There are, after all, only so many sharks to jump.
Still, the relationship lingers on like a stubborn marriage, with two parties quietly accepting their hum-drum fate.
We’ll always have the memories though…
The first flirtatious steps of The Dating Game, the sexually-charged dalliances of Love Connection, Blind Date’s trainwrecks, the tabloid affairs with washed-up celebrities rubbernecked by VH1, and the faux-romantic dressings of The Bachelor.
The fellatio, the literal and figurative fecal matter, and the serial killers are all there in one, big sprawling photo album.
It’s cheap, it’s phony, it’s sad, it’s horny, it’s desperate, it’s lethal, and it’s quintessentially American.
“How much have you had to drink tonight?”
the cop asked me.
“More than a thimble and less than a gallon,” I said.
The cop told me to step out of the car.
The cop handed me a Rubik’s cube.
“Make one side all one color,” he said.
I twisted it a bunch but it was all fucked.
Finally I got tired and took the stickers off.
“There,” I said. “It’s all black.”
The cop shot it.
“Here,” he said. “Breathe into this.”
I started breathing.
“More,” he said. “Keep going. More.”
Finally, I was out of breath.
The cop took his balloon back
and bent it into a funny shape.
“What does this look like to you?”
“A giraffe,” I said.
“But a weird one. Maybe it’s crippled or something.”
“Yeah, crippled giraffe, you got it,” the cop said.
He gave me a written warning for speeding and left.
Thank God he didn’t ask about the bank robbery.
I was so drunk I probably would have confessed.
We’re Not Related
“So… How do you two know each other?”
I asked Jesus and the Easter Bunny.
Abraham Lincoln rolled a six
and moved his piece to ‘Go’.
“Honest Abe my ass,” I said.
“You’re on Boardwalk. That’s $2,000.”
Abe paid me but in Confederate dollars.
I gave him a dirty look.
“I hope you have fun at the theatre tonight,” I said.
I knew he wouldn’t though.
Hamilton just isn’t the same
without Lin Manuel Miranda.
It was the summer of 2016
when the clowns first appeared.
They’d linger in the woods, trying to lure people in.
Society did not take the clown threat seriously.
What’s left of it now knows better.
I drag on my cigarette once more.
My rifle is fixed on the tent.
One clean shot at Jelly Beans. That’s all I need.
Just one shot… That’s all I need…
Most Eligible Bachelor
The headline blared:
“Is This Frumpy Bald Guy Baltimore’s Biggest Playboy?”
The cover was a picture of me shrugging.
“I gotta hand it to you,” Jesus said.
“This is good press.”
“Yeah,” I said. “Pretty soon I’m gonna catch you!”
Jesus laughed, but I could tell he was jealous.
The next time we hung out Jesus was bald
and a little overweight.
Some people just crave the spotlight.
I pulled my wagon up to the bus.
“Here,” I said. “Can you use all this?”
“Oh my God!” the woman shrieked.
“No! Where did you get all of that?”
I said: “That’s none of your business.”
It was none of her business.
“I’m calling the cops,” the woman said.
“Go ahead,” I told her. “Tell them J-Money is here.”
“In the meantime, you should really change your name.
Don’t call it the BloodMobile if you don’t want blood.”
Then I thought for another second.
“Maybe you should call it the BitchMobile instead.”
I went to high five someone,but no one else was there
to witness my savage burn.
So I just left.
Betsy slithered beneath the boardwalk, tactfully navigating her way through the shattered shells, broken glass, and ripped condoms. The varying colors of the latex made it look like a graveyard for balloon animals.
Sand fell between the planks, dusting her scalp with dirt at each stranger’s step. These showers couldn’t be avoided. The most she could do was to keep the sand from getting into her eyes.
It was worth it, though, for Betsy to indulge in one of her favorite pastimes – eavesdropping on other people’s conversations. Betsy loved skulking beneath the boardwalk’s shade, tracking unwitting targets above.
It was a bottomless well of intrigue. There was talk of romance and crushes – who liked whom. There were debates – vigorous back-and-forth exchanges about bands, television shows, movies, and even food. There was gossip – scandalous secrets, lies and hearsay. And best of all, there were fights – enemies exchanging barbs, friends betraying each other’s confidence…
The best were husbands and wives taking thinly-veiled swipes at one another, all in an easily decipherable code that wasn’t doing enough to shield their traumatized kids.
In some ways she found it saddening; in others, deeply comical. But she also found it enviable. Betsy had had a stutter for as long as she’d known how to talk. She could never express herself so clearly or so directly as the people above her.
She savored their conversations. Each tasty morsel of dialogue rattled down through the cracks of that rickety wooden walkway. Down they tumbled into the shadows, like so much loose change, just begging to be collected.
The trick was knowing which trails to follow. Betsy knew better than to get caught listening to some boring conversation. She once spent 45 minutes listening to two old ladies compare medical ailments, doctors visits, prescription pill routines, and dietary habits. She stuck with it, vainly hoping something interesting might come up.
No such luck, but banality of the banter better prepared her for future missions.
She learned not to hone in on one conversation too quickly. Instead, she would dangle her attention in the blurring cacophony of carnival music, arcade games and chatter until it hooked into a promising lead. Then she’d follow it wherever it went. Often, it took her nowhere, but occasionally, the destination made the whole journey worthwhile.
This was what she was doing now, cycling her attention through the conversations transpiring above – like a blind channel surfer.
And that’s when she heard it…
Two sets of feet building from a slow walk into a near jog. Then, two girls giggling in a way that soon broke into laughter. They sounded like they were close to Betsy’s age, in either junior high or high school. She could tell because the laughter sounded familiar, it wasn’t boisterous and warm, like that of a shared experience. It was the laughter of ridicule, like a minimal effort was being made to suppress it on behalf of the humiliated party. It was chilling.
“Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!” one clamored to the other.
“Okay, yeah, that was totally Kirk!” the second girl confirmed.
“I know! Oh my God, what is he doing? What a weirdo!”
“I can’t believe he gave you a balloon! Can we please talk about that?”
“Ugh. I know, so weird. He’s not watching is he?”
“No, no. We’re fine.”
“He’s so gross. You should see the way he looks at me in gym class. I ignore him. It’s not even funny.”
“What are you going to do with it? Take it home with you? Keep it as an undying symbol of Kirk’s love for you?”
“Gross, no. I don’t know.”
“Let’s pop it!”
“No, that’s too mean. I’ll just let it go or something once we get a little further away. I don’t want him to see.”
“Yeah he might stalk or kill you or something. Oh my God, like John Wayne Gacey!”
“Ew. I don’t think he’s that bad. But… ugh it’s just weird. Like, I don’t want your balloon Kirk. I’m not fucking five years old and you’re dressed as a fucking clown!”
Uproarious laughter ensued.
“BWAAHAHAHAHA! I know right! Oh my God. Kirk Franklin dresses like a clown on the boardwalk… I am going to tell EVERYONE at school.”
Betsy stopped walking and let the girls carry on. She felt bad for this boy, Kirk. And she felt anger towards these two girls, these two nameless, faceless, careless girls.
“That’s m-mmmm. M-Mean!” she stammered quietly.
Betsy tried practicing the word ‘mean’ a few more times before ducking out from under the boardwalk to find the nearest set of stairs. The sand was hot and the sun was almost blinding, but she could still see them as they walked off into the distance.
One was blonde, the other brunette. Both were thin. They wore short shorts and tank tops. The dark-haired one looked back, but it was hard to make out her face. When she turned away again the blonde one held out her arm and let go of the heart-shaped balloon she was holding.
Betsy turned in the opposite direction, and started walking. About a block down she saw him.
The face paint, the red nose, the rainbow wig… The green and white striped shirt and red suspenders, the goofy hat, and yellow pants… He looked ridiculous alright. No wonder those girls made fun of him.
The kid was practically asking for it… Except he wasn’t…
So he’s a clown. Hadn’t these girls never seen a clown before? And he gave them a balloon. That’s nice. At least he’s doing something. He’s out there. He’s trying.
Betsy watched from a distance. She faded back a bit, trying to disappear into the crowd as she watched this oddity before her.
Kirk smiled and waved at the public, trying to get the attention of kids. Some cried or ran away. But others laughed and humored him. For those children, the ones that stayed, Kirk made balloon animals.
“That’s pretty impressive,” Betsy thought. “It does look kinda like a dog, I guess.”
The kids that got them were genuinely happy.
Then there was juggling. Also impressive.
A small crowd gathered at one point. And when he finished they applauded. Some gave him money.
Only then, at the culmination of the juggling performance did Betsy realize how much time she’d spent watching Kirk clown. She shook her head, trying to erase the entire memory, and began walking away.
Then she stopped and turned around once more. She walked up to Kirk who smiled a big grin and waved an exaggerated wave.
He gestured towards his flaccid balloon, and Betsy shook her head yes.
The clown held his finger to his lips and struck a pose of deep thought. Then he pointed to an imaginary light bulb above his head. He reached for some more balloons and started filling them with air from a canister. His fingers worked nimbly, folding and weaving, and bending the latex.
After he finished, he held it out. He’d made a dolphin. There was no way he could have known this, but dolphins were Betsy’s favorite animal. She took it, smiled warmly at him and mouthed the words “thank you.”
As she turned to walk away with her prize, as Kirk waved goodbye and blew her a kiss.
The crowd was mostly quiet but Kirk felt like he was killing it.
It was the first time he’d juggled plates instead of bowling pins and he didn’t break even one. He’d always broken at least one when he practiced at home.
Rather than make a bunch of small balloon animals the audience wouldn’t be able to see, he made a giant giraffe. Even a coulrophobic could be impressed by that. Couldn’t they?
The magic tricks, while hardly dazzling, passed as illusions. The magic rope, the rings, the wand tricks, all of it.
He even heard some gasps and a distinct “Woo!” as he wrapped up his finale with a somersault.
A show simply couldn’t go any more smoothly for him.
Even still, there was a smattering of boos as Kirk danced off stage. (They were high school kids after all.) But mostly there was polite applause and a few cheers.
As he made his way backstage he ran into the next act, which happened to be a mime. He’d seen her getting ready earlier, practicing and touching up her face paint. She’d been watching in silence the whole time. As they bumped into one another the mime smiled a big grin and gave Kirk two thumbs up.
He was about to say good luck, when he heard the host’s voice over the PA system: “That’s Knick-Knack the clown everyone! Give it up for Knick-Knack!”
There was another polite round of applause.
“Next up, we have a mime,” the voice said. “Everyone welcome Oddball!”
Music cued up and Oddball donned her smile. She ran out on stage and pretended to slip and fall as the spotlight caught up to her. Or at least Kirk hoped she was pretending.
Oddball started off with some standard mime fair. She pulled on a rope. She pretended to eat a carrot like Bugs Bunny. She was trapped in a box.
Kirk felt like he could have done better, but Oddball seemed pretty new at this, and he was happy she was trying. He knew being a clown was tough, but mimes always seemed to get it worse.
And with that thought, the crowd started booing. It wasn’t a smattering, either. It was a bass-y roar, the kind that overwhelms.
Oddball worked for a few more seconds but then froze. This time it wasn’t part of the act. The boos had sunk in and she’d hit the wall. The sound reverberated through her body making her feel hollow. She became acutely aware of her rising body temperature as sweat soaked through her black and white striped shirt.
A few more long seconds passed and then Oddball fled, running off stage as fast as she could. Again, she slipped and fell. This was the only time during her act that audience members laughed. Others gasped in horror. A few let out a rubber-necking “Oooooh.”
Oddball got up and finished her trot off stage.
The voice from the PA chimed in like God chiding his flock from on high.
“Oh no, no, no,” it said. “Everybody give Oddball a hand. Come on now. Be respectful. Give her a hand.”
With that more people applauded, trying to salvage the situation and a scrap of Oddball’s self-esteem. But it was far too late for that.
Kirk turned to follow where the fleeing mime had run. He asked one of the other talent show performers where she’d gone and was directed to one of the dressing rooms. There she sat with her head down in her arms crying.
“Are you okay?” Kirk asked.
There was no response. Just more sobbing.
“God, that’s a stupid question. I’m sorry. Is there something I can get for you?”
Again, Oddball said nothing, but this time she lifted her head.
Her make-up was smeared and running from the tears streaming down her face.
Sweaty, sad, and breathless, the mime shook her head ‘no.’
“Okay, well I thought you did okay,” he said. “You’re going to be fine, trust me.”
Inhaling one more deep breath and letting it out, Oddball pinched her fingers at the corner of her mouth, dragged them across her lips, and turned them.
“Oh, right. Of course.” Kirk said. “Mime’s don’t talk.”
The mime sniffled and looked down.
“Okay. Well, clowns do and let me tell you, I’ve been booed, and yelled at, and jeered lots of times. I’ve had people call me names and throw things at me.
“And you know what I do when they do that stuff?” he asked.
“I keep performing. When they boo, I act sad. When they call me names, I play along. When they throw things at me, I juggle them. Because I’m a clown. And if the audience is doing all that stuff, they’re being entertained. I’m getting a rise out of them. I’m doing my job.
“Of course I want to make people smile. Of course I want to make them laugh and I do – the happy ones anyway. But the truth is, unhappy people don’t laugh. And they don’t smile. They boo and they jeer. Nothing else makes them feel quite so good. And that’s not a reflection on you, it’s a reflection on them.”
“I’ll leave you alone now,” he said.
Having said his peace Kirk turned to leave. Then he felt a slight tug. He turned around and Oddball hugged him. Hard. Her face was still wet and he could feel it.
“You’re fine Oddball,” he said. “You really knocked’em dead out there.”
They both laughed, even though mimes aren’t supposed to.
Having given up on Julie, Kirk decided to try his luck online once more.
When he signed back into his dating profile he was surprised to find he already had a message from someone with the handle “BubbaBetsy.”
The message simply read: “Howdy.”
Kirk looked at the young lady’s profile and was surprised to see she was rather pretty. It felt odd to him, like it might be a trap. Traditionally, he had been the one to message pretty girls. Then he’d wait patiently for them to not respond. In fact, he’d recently given up on pretty girls almost entirely. So this was unusual.
Kirk didn’t know how to respond. He tried several variations on the word hello beginning with “Hey!” and ending with “Howdy yourself.”
Ultimately he settled on: “Hi.”
The entirety of the message read like this:
Hi. I’m Kirk. What’s your name? Do I know you from somewhere? You look vaguely familiar.
He got a response a few hours later…
Hi Kirk. I’m Betsy. No. I don’t think we have met before. But we should. Why don’t you take me out for some drinks?
“This can’t be real,” Kirk thought when he read it. “It’s definitely a trap.”
Kirk looked over to his cat.
“What do you think Topper?”
Topper said nothing.
“Well, alright,” Kirk said. “If you think it’s a good idea.”
Kirk messaged Betsy back and they set a date for the weekend.
Kirk got to the bar first, which was typical. He liked to be ahead of schedule, to be a gentleman.
Betsy arrived a few minutes later. She found him quickly and greeted him with a hug.
“Hi, Betsy,” Kirk said with his most practiced personable smile.
“Howdy, Kirk,” Betsy said.
From there the conversation flowed smoothly. Kirk and Betsy talked about their day jobs and families. They grew up in the same area. They went to the same high school, though Kirk was a year older and graduated ahead of her.
They were a few beers deep and talking about music when Betsy’s stutter finally slipped out.
“F-f-f-fff Fugazi!” she said.
Kirk was taken aback.
“S-sorry,” Betsy said. “Sometimes I stutter. Especially when I’ve been d-d-drinking. Or if I’m nervous”
Kirk couldn’t help but laugh a little.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I don’t mean to…”
Betsy stopped him there.
“It’s okay,” she said. “I know it sounds ridiculous. It is kind of funny. I’ve been working on it all my life. I can control it most of the time. Sometimes, it just s-slips out though. It’s embarrassing.”
“Oh no, don’t be embarrassed,” Kirk said. “I actually, genuinely, 100% find it endearing.”
“Really?” she asked.
“Yes. Really. I promise. I think it’s cute.”
“Okay,” Betsy said. “Well, that’s my s-secret. What’s yours? You have to have one.”
It was at that point in the conversation that Kirk knew the time was right. He didn’t want to make the same mistake he did with Julie. And this was the perfect chance to share something embarrassing about himself.
“I guess my secret would be that I’m a clown,” he said. “Like, an honest-to-goodness clown. I juggle, make balloon animals, I do magic… the whole nine yards. I’m a clown. That’s it. I’m a clown.”
Betsy looked mortified.
“Oh wow. I can tell by your expression, you don’t like clowns…”
“What? Come on,” Kirk said. “How could that possibly be?”
Betsy took a deep breath and began to explain…
“I was really young. We were at the circus, my whole f-family and I. All the clowns were out. They were running around the crowd trying to get people to participate. Then this one clown, the lead clown, just settled on my dad randomly. He led him down to the ring to be a part of the act.”
Kirk was skeptical but he listened intently.
“It s-started out pretty normal,” Betsy went on. “The clown did a stern imitation of my father, putting his hands on his hips and frowning. Then he pulled a n-never-ending stream of rainbow handkerchiefs out of my dad’s ear. He went side-to-side behind his back…
“Then,” Betsy said choking up, “he led my dad over to the elephant. He crouched down by the elephant’s foot and lifted it into the air. The elephant was just holding it up on its own, like it was trained, but the clown stood there under his f-foot pretending to hold it up with one hand.
“Then he motioned for my dad to stand under the elephant’s foot with him and prrre-tend to hold it up.”
“Oh no,” Kirk said, seeing the whole travesty playing out in the theater of his mind.
“There they both were, standing right under the elephant’s foot,” Betsy said, now starting to cry. “The audience applauded. Then the c-clown put his finger up and gestured to my dad, like ‘Wait a minute, one second,’ you know? And he walked out from under the elephant’s foot, leaving my dad there to pretend like he was holding it up him-himself.
“And then…” Betsy broke down. She put her face into her hands and started sobbing.
Kirk leaned forward wondering if he should hold her.
“And then,” she sniffled. “And then… I… I can’t believe you’re buying this!”
Betsy brought her head up from her hands and she was laughing.
“Oh come on!” Kirk said. “I can’t believe you! You really had me going there! That’s not even funny. That’s just mean!”
Kirk had half a mind to get up and walk away right there. But there was no way. He knew deep down that he liked it. He liked Betsy’s story. He liked Betsy.
She looked at him again, this time nicely, and said: “I like that you’re a clown, Kirk.”
“Oh yeah?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Betsy said smiling and focusing on him and her words. “And you know something else? I have more secrets.”
“Oh, really?” Kirk said, trying not to sound too excited.
“Mmhmm. But you don’t get to find them all out at once,” Betsy said. “You’re going to have to work for them.”
That was a challenge Kirk was excited for.
The rest of the date went well. So, they went out on a few more. Kirk learned all about Betsy and her uncommon habits and hobbies. None of them were enough to scare him off. Not until it finally came time to see Betsy’s apartment, anyway.
She made him dinner and opened a bottle of wine before finally breaking the news.
“Kirk,” she said, putting on her serious face. “I’ve told you a lot these past few weeks, but there’s one more thing you need to know about me.”
“Oh no,” Kirk thought. There had to be something. This girl was too good to be true.
“Is she really a man?” he wondered, not sure if even that would be enough to drive him away. “Is she dying? Is she related to me somehow?”
“What is it?” he asked.
“I can’t tell you.”
“What do you mean you can’t tell me? You said there’s something I have to know. But you’re not going to tell me?”
“I just can’t. I literally cannot tell you.”
“I don’t understand,” Kirk said.
Betsy went into her bedroom and shut the door. Kirk sat there alone on the couch, frustrated and nervous.
When Betsy came out, she was wearing mime makeup and a black bodysuit. She pretended to be stuck in a box, then walked hard against the wind, before running to jump on his lap.
Kirk was shocked.
“What the heck?!” was his startled exclamation. “No. No way.”
Kirk pushed Betsy off his lap and stood up.
“I mean, a mime?! Are you serious?”
Betsy was shocked, too. She didn’t know what to say.
Kirk walked to her door.
“A mime?” he asked, looking back one more time with disgust. “I’m not dating a mime.”
Then he walked out and closed the door behind him.
“K-K-Kirk!” Betsy shouted.
She got up and ran to the door.
When she opened it, he was still standing there, smiling.
“I love mimes,” he said.
Betsy was still crying a little. But she smiled too.
Kirk sat at the dinner table toying nervously with the handkerchief on his lap. His hands unconsciously folded and unfolded it. He crunched it in his palms, hoping to soak up some of the sweat.
He tried to display more poise above board, but his eyes wandered and his breath got shallow.
It wasn’t a full-fledged panic attack, but he could feel that familiar tightness in his chest and his stomach bubbled like seltzer.
Finally, Julie touched his hand.
“Are you okay,” she asked. “What’s wrong? You’re making me nervous.
Julie was a nice woman. As an elementary school teacher, she must be accepting, Kirk thought. In fact, in a way, she’s something of a performer herself.
Kirk pictured Julie standing in front of a room full of kids, 12, 13, 14 years old; their hormones raging, their attention spans short.
Some grease paint might actually be to her benefit. It would keep the boys from being distracted by her round features and full lips. Some oversized pants and a colorful shirt, paired with the right scarf, would suit her Rubenesque frame rather nicely. At the very least, it would disguise her large breasts.
On the other hand, her voice was anything but comical. He could hear the inner authoritarian when she asked…
“Are you going to dump me?”
“No!” Kirk shot back, feeling the pressure.
“Then what is it? What’s going on?”
“There’s something I have to tell you,” Kirk said.
Julie slumped her shoulders.
“Great,” she thought. “He’s been hiding something from me… lying to me.”
Her mind shot through all the possibilities: He’s married… He has kids…. He got his dick shot off in a war…
“Whatever it is, I knew it,” she steamed to her inner-self. “I never should have done this. You meet these guys online and they never turn out to be who you they say they are. They hide behind masks.”
In a brief but morbid sideshow, Julie flashed back to the last man she’d met online. His name was Kristof. He’d said he was an “art dealer.” How exciting that was! They dated for a few weeks before she found out what he really did was buy junk at yard sales, just to turn around and sell it on ebay for a modest profit.
When she finally visited his house for the first time, the “art” she found piled waist high included broken toys (a Simon Sez, old Nintendo games, Super Soakers, pogs…), some old tea kettles next to an open bottle of polish, at least three scooters and a blunt “samurai” sword. Indeed, Kristof’s “studio” was a menagerie of misbegotten memorabilia.
Also, his real name was just Kris… with a ‘K’… Kris Krueger…
Now, who was this?
“It’s nothing… bad,” said Kirk. “At least, I don’t think so…”
“Okay,” Julie said softening slightly. Suddenly, her brain re-calibrated and her anger gave way to more fear and guilt — “Oh my God, maybe he’s sick… He’s got some kind of a mental problem!”
Finally, she broke.
“Jesus Christ, Kirk, just spit it out!” she blurted. “What is it? Do you have cancer or something? Kids? A wife? A second life? An STD? What?!”
“I’m a clown!” Kirk screamed in a whisper.
There was an awkward silence.
“What?” Julie asked. “Like… What? Is that a metaphor? Or do you mean an actual big shoes, big red nose, face-painted, small car-driving, McDonald’s-peddling clown?”
“A clown-clown. Like… Yeah, like with the paint and the costume.”
“Jesus Christ,” Julie said, again slumping down in her chair.
“Are you mad?” Kirk asked.
Julie tried to get a handle her feelings, but couldn’t.
What was she feeling now?
Not anger. Not guilt. Not empathy. Surprise? Yes. Disappointment? Yes, closer. Disgust? Not quite… but maybe.
“No. No, I’m not mad. I just don’t understand… So when exactly are you a clown?”
“At what? Kids’ birthday parties? Hospitals?”
“More just, like, in the street… Street performing.”
Again, Julie blinked her eyes and shook her head in disbelief.
“So. On the weekends you dress up like a clown, and entertain people in the street…”
“Okay… Well, that’s interesting.”
“So you’re not mad?”
“No, I’m not mad. I mean, if that’s what you’re into.”
“Do you not like clowns? Some people are scared of them, which is why I was afraid to tell you. A lot of people don’t like clowns. So if it’s something you can’t deal with…”
“Oh, I can deal with it. I’m not afraid of them or anything. It’s just… I didn’t expect it. And now we’re sitting here, and I keep picturing you as a clown. When did you start clowning, or become a clown or whatever? Did you go to clown college?”
“Not college. Camp. I started doing magic as a kid, juggling, too. I even tried ventriloquism.”
“Oh my God, please tell me you still don’t do ventriloquism.”
“Oh I don’t! No, I wasn’t any good. I guess I still do have the dummy… But I don’t practice with it anymore… It’s just more of a prop.”
Julie brought her hands to her face, afraid that her disbelief would morph into flat-out laughter. She managed the stifle the impulse and nodded, encouraging Kirk to continue.
“Anyway. My parents wanted to encourage me, so they let me go to a magic camp. Then, there were other kids and counselors and instructors. It was a lot of fun, actually. I learned new tricks and all about the history of magic and clowning. We worked on improv and developed these comedy routines.
“That’s where it started. I just started doing it. In the summer, I would go up to the boardwalk and entertain people. I handed out balloons. It was my summer job. A lot of kids worked summer jobs. They were lifeguards, cashiers, delivery boys… I was a clown. No one knew. I didn’t tell anyone.”
“Did you hang out with other clowns?” Julie asked. “From school or anything?”
“No. I didn’t have any, I mean, many friends in school. I’d see people from school sometimes, when I was clowning, but they wouldn’t recognize me. I gave a girl I liked a balloon once. She had no idea it was me.”
“Aw. That’s sweet,” Julie cooed. And for the first time, Kirk felt she wasn’t judging him.
She was listening, empathizing… maybe even… accepting?
“It was sweet. And that’s how I got my start. I don’t really do many paid gigs. It’s mostly just for the fun of it. Like I said, street performing and stuff. I don’t like kids’ parties. They’re kind of a nightmare, actually. Most of the time, the kids aren’t even interested. The parents just don’t know how else to kill time or entertain a bunch of children at a party, so they hire a clown.
“It goes over like a lead balloon animal,” Kirk said, feeling uneasy at his own bad joke.
Julie forced out a small laugh and excused herself to the bathroom.
When she came back she noted it was late and that they ought to go.
As they parted, Kirk caught her watching as he climbed into his Prius. It was uncomfortable.
Later that week, Kirk decided to text Julie. It’d been a few days since they’d last spoke. Maybe she’d be available that weekend. He wrote out a couple rough drafts before settling on something breezy. Then he killed an hour or so, watching an old Marx Bros. film with his cat, Topper.
No reply came.
Kirk looked at the pistol on his coffee table and began toying with it. He spun the gun around. It twirled to face the wall. He spun it again, landing on Topper.
“Don’t worry, little guy,” he said. “One more time.”
Finally the barrel pointed towards Kirk. He picked it up, held to the side of his head, let out a deep breath and pulled the trigger.
A bunch of spoiled, self-absorbed narcissists, running around taking pictures of ourselves.
We’re the “Selfie Generation”
This is how Baby Boomers view us; through the lens of a camera-phone at the end of an outstretched arm (or worse, stick).
Here’s the thing, though: We’re not the first generation to ever take pictures of ourselves.
We’re just the first generation that’s ever taken this many pictures of ourselves. And that’s not because we’re the most self-obsessed generation to ever exist. It’s because we’re the first generation to ever have access to this technology.
We’re the first generation to grow up with mobile phones, the first generation to have phones combined with cameras, the first generation to have access to digital photography, and the first generation to make use of social media.
But I repeat: We are NOT the first generation to replicate our own likeness.
To prove it, I’ve built this timeline…
Selfies Through History
The point is this is a practice that’s literally as old as human history.
It just so happens we have technology that lets us do it… repeatedly… in a way that is really obsessive and annoying. We also have access to technology that lets us share those images instantly and with a wide audience.
I’m not saying it’s great. But it doesn’t mean we’re a bunch of self-absorbed assholes, either.
If today’s technology had been around 50 years ago, Facebook feeds would’ve blown up with dumb-looking Boomers snapping selfies of themselves at Woodstock.
And if you don’t believe me think about a close comparable: The video camera.
For a long time, home videos were impractical 8mm filmstrips. But the second VHS came out, the world was suddenly crawling with dads wielding giant black boxes. They filmed parties, pageants, soccer games, parades, and more.
That’s right. Don’t play coy. Admit it.
You Boomers did something far worse with those camcorders didn’t you?
YOU INVENTED AMATEUR PORN.
Talk about narcissism, you started filming yourselves fucking the very first moment technology would allow.
For every Millennial out there, there exists some grainy, unlabed VHS tape of their parents going at it like a couple of howler monkeys.
Best case scenario: You weirdos sat around watching yourselves bone on tape.
Worst case: You shared them.
The Internet is awash in homemade porn and I don’t even mean recent efforts. You can find plenty of footage of bad hair banging bad hair.
All that poor grooming backdropped by awful 80s décor. That fake wood wall paneling. The tacky couches. Some of it even takes place in vans.
It’s all so gross and seedy.
And the fact that so many of these videos still exist is testament to just how ubiquitous this practice was. This is 2016, for God’s sake. What’s survived is only a fraction of what was around 20 years ago.
And there’s still SO MUCH.
Did you guys do anything other than videotape yourselves fucking?
It’s hard to see how you did.
Even before the Internet, there were shows like “Naughty Amateur Home Videos” – a show that aired on the Playboy channel for 12 years from 1996 to 2008.
Guess what it aired…
Yes, Baby Boomers were once so desperate to share their sextapes with the world they went through the trouble of mailing them into a cable channel.
But now you see some 17-year old girl duck-facing for her smartphone and it’s evidence of generational decay.
Like you wouldn’t have taken selfies if film wasn’t such a costly pain in the ass to get developed.
Hell, you pretty much invented the polaroid camera just to get around it.
That, and so you could finally take dick picks and titty shots without getting banned from Motophoto.
You people are gross.
Gross and hypocritical.
I’ll take duck-face over O-face any day of the week.
And I think I’ll take all the selfies I please, thank you very much.
Here’s one of me stumbling across the amateur porno you forgot you made in 1986:
Go ahead, call me a narcissist.
You’re something far worse: The producer, director, and star of your own XXX-rated movie.
And that movie isn’t getting any one off but you.
It’s a short, limp vanity project with bad lighting and flabby ass.
Maybe next time pick a better angle and use a filter.
To hear Baby Boomers tell it, we’re obsessed with these fucking things.
Funny thing is, I couldn’t care less about them. They just went and handed them out, when all I asked for was one of those sugary juice bottles. You know, the ones that they sold in bulk.
Does anyone still have their participation trophies?
No! Of course you don’t. They’re stupid and pointless.
It’s a piece of plastic bolted to square of marble, not the Stanley Cup.
Every participation trophy anyone ever got has ended up in a trash can, basement, attic or closet.
No one gives a shit about them. In fact, most of us wouldn’t have even played sports at all had our parents not pushed us into them.
So fuck your trophy. Keep it. I never cared enough about playing rec-league soccer to covet any kind of trash trophy for it.
I’m not the one who had the thing made. I didn’t want that trophy.
That’s right. Let’s not kid ourselves about who those participation trophies are really for: YOU.
YOU the parent. See, for parents, child-rearing is come kind of warped competition to see who can produce the most well-adjusted offspring.
Kids are little clusters of genetic pride. And if you’re going to prove that your dumb kid is better than the neighbor’s dumb kid, you better damn well have a cabinet full of plastic to back it up.
To parents, those tiny little trophies are proof of what a good job they’re doing.
Just look at how ACTIVE Julie is! So many ribbons!
Perfect. Now you can show your kids’ medals to your own mom and dad so that they’ll know what an amazing parent they raised. Yes, finally the parents you could never please will be mollified by the accomplishments of their grandchild, which YOU raised. Validation!
Congratulations! YOU WIN!
Your kid is an active and productive member of an established social order. They’re not some weird, lazy loner jerking off all day and torching ants with a magnifying glass. Those are the tragic and hapless products of shitty parents.
Those parents couldn’t child-rear their way out of a paper bag.
Not you though!
Gaze upon your ribbons, trophies and medals. You better hurry, though, because they’re going to end up in a box in the basement as soon as Julie goes off to college and gives you something new to brag about. Oh the prideful tears you’ll cry!
This is classic Boomer. Foist some self-serving bullshit on us, act like it’s what we wanted all along, and then write think-pieces about all the potential negative impacts down the road.
Just like they created a commercial-media complex overflowing with sex and violence, inundated us with its subversive messaging, and then asked the question: Why are today’s kids so oversexed and violent?
Or when they gorged us on a steady diet of McDonalds, Milk Duds, and Coke and then accused us of being lazy fat-asses. (Excuse me? Did you not see my participation trophies?)
Boomers are right about one thing though: Millennials ARE sensitive.
I celebrate that fact whole-heartedly, because it’s not a bad thing.
Not only are Millennials far more accepting of other races, genders, and cultures, we’ve straight up shamed you into agreeing with us.
See, while you’ve been ruminating on the far-reaching impact plastic trophies have had on an entire generation, we’ve been quietly advancing a progressive agenda.
Just ask your gay friends.
Oh right, you don’t have any gay friends (that you know about) because you’re a Baby Boomer!
You spent decades marginalizing gay people, and now you’ve all suddenly come around on the issue.
Ah yes, Hillary, you and all the other Boomers were right there with us all along. We were actually supposed to have made marriage equal back in the 80s but somehow got sidetracked by the Cosby Show.
Still, that’s better than dipshits like Jerry Seinfeld, who think the fact that people no longer chuckle at the word ‘gay’ is a sign that the PC police have run amok.
Get it? GAY French king? Gay people? French people? They’re both faggy amiright?
Amazing that line didn’t win over a college crowd.
It’s not us. It’s you, Jerry.
The problem is that in 1986 you could throw the word “gay” into a punchline and count on reliable laugh. Hell, Eddie Murphy did entire stand up sets about his homophobia. This is the same Eddie Murphy that got busted picking up a transgender prostitute on the Hollywood strip mind you.
Wow. For a group that’s constantly derided as being coddled, it doesn’t look like LGBT people had a very good go of it up until, I don’t know… now?
All these “helicopter parents” and yet LGBT Millennials had to tell themselves that “It gets better.”
We are a braver generation than you’ll ever be, because (in addition to fighting your pointless wars) we’re the ones who had to come out to you bigots.
And now we have to sit here and listen to you act like it was never a problem in the first place.
It won’t stop there, either. Because we won’t stop. We’re coming for every single one of your archaic symbols of institutionalized bigotry – from confederate flags to racist football team names.
And every single time one of these totems comes crashing down, we’re going to have to listen to you pat yourselves on the back like it was your idea. Most of you will deny your callousness ever existed, while the ever-shrinking minority dig their heels into the ground to try and stop our progress.
You scold us for being too sensitive but you’re totally unwilling to acknowledge the great awakening that that sensitivity has wrought.
WE brought LGBT acceptance. WE elected the country’s first black president. And WE are pretty fucking close to electing the first woman president right behind him.
You were the ones who voted for trickle-down economics and the War on Drugs. We’re the ones addressing income inequality and reforming the criminal justice system.
So yes, we are more sensitive than you. We do have a much higher threshold of empathy and understanding.
And yes, we do expect life to be fair.
In our society, everyone – gay, straight, black, brown, man, woman, intersex… – does get a trophy for participating.