The next generation: what were you thinking?!

Savannah Morning News

Nov. 19, 2017

Is it just me or does it seem as if there are an inordinate number of babies around these days, slung on a daddy’s back, snug against a mama’s chest, tucked in a walker? They’re everywhere. At the Saturday Forsyth Farmer’s Market, in Daffin park, on the streets. More fathers with babies too (fathers without jobs? Perhaps).

With all the mishigas (that would be craziness) in the world, people – smart people –  still have enough faith in the future to introduce another soul into the mix. Imagine putting down on a form “2017” as the year you were born. And they’re having more than one child, too. Two, three. They just keep popping them out.

The most popular names for girls this year? Emma, Ava, Olivia, Sophia. Must be something about words ending in an “a”. Just to prove a point the next three are Isabella, Mia and Amelia. Three more “a”s on the end. Boys? Liam, Noah, Logan, Lucas. Three out of four starting with an “l,” followed by Mason, Ethan, Oliver.

No one-syllable names. No Bob, John, Ted or Jim. No Jane either, until you get down to number 288. Boo-hoo. No Nancy, Suzy, Marcy or Judy, either – the names of my four high school friends from the sixties. Paisley, however, is ranked number 43, after Skylar, Aurora and Savannah and before Lillian, Brooklyn (not to be confused with Brooklynn, who comes in at 170) and Hazel. For the record I don’t know anyone with those names (well, maybe Savannah but she changed it).

No Rose either (that was my mother’s name) or any of the names of my aunts: Betty, Dorothy, Mildred, Trudy. No Celia or Eva (my grandmothers’ names). No Beverly (my mother’s best friend) or Dolly, Jeanette or Loris (her bridge partners).

Certainly, on the boys’ side, no Mannie (that was my father’s name) or Herman, Mickey or Ben (his brothers) or Harry, Saul or Lou (my uncles). No Lou-from-Windsor, either. He was another uncle, not to be confused with Lou (from Detroit). Even those names speak to another generation.

I could worry about these babies. How will they learn to tie their shoes with Velcro around? What about telling time non-electronically, with just a second hand and a minute hand? Will they still do cartwheels? Will the almighty dollar hold the same allure?

But I’m not worried about them. I look at them and I’m hopeful. I’m betting they’ll be against conspicuous consumption. We already know the happiest people are those making $75,000 a year. Any more than that introduces stress and the need for more.

I’m thinking these babies when all grown up will live in smaller houses, drive smaller cars and live in smaller towns. They may share houses. Money will not be such an issue. They’ll call storage units stupid and wasteful. They’ll wonder why we don’t have more and wider bike paths, more buses. They’ll look at the bottle neck in Pooler and say, “What’s the matter with you people?”

They’ll think it’s ridiculous we don’t teach music and art in school. Every day. “What were you thinking?”

They’ll wonder why there are so few statues of women, why out of 6,900 outdoor statues, 555 – nine percent – are women. In the National Park system there are 152 monuments dedicated to women; three (two percent) are historic women figures.

I hate to be around when they see how we bungled health care.  By the time they’re adults it will be “Medicare for all.” It’s the only logical way to go. People not on Medicare don’t understand how easily it works. All the other options will seem wasteful, discriminating and thick-headed. Get ready. They’ll be saying, “You mean you let the pharmaceutical companies and the insurance mavens run the show? Shame on you, mom. Bad, dad.”

They’ll look at our prison systems and say, “Don’t you see it’s just money-makers for those in small towns? That all those petty miscreants you incarcerated with a joint or two will come out practiced, hard-core criminals? Is that what you meant to do? You mean you didn’t teach them anything when you had them there, a captured audience? They just watched television all day and worked out? Then when they got out they could never vote again? Ludicrous.”

They’re not mine, these babies, but seeing them gives me hope and this from someone who wavers somewhere between joy and despair. Maybe it’s the blue sky today or the cooler temperatures or the thought of Thanksgiving but somehow I’m feeling a light at the end of the Trumpian tunnel. You watch. These babies will have our backs. They’ll be eating more garbanzo beans than meat. They’ll be turning front yards into vegetable gardens and side yards into orchards. They’ll be growing more lemons, more oranges, more fuyu persimmon than they know what to do with. They’ll be sporting bumper stickers that say, “I’m already against the next war.” They’ll be sharing.

A girl can hope.



On golf carts and man buns

Savannah Morning News

Nov. 12, 2017

Forget Aquarius. This is age of golf carts (on streets), man buns (on men), mullets (universal). Raise your hand if you like any of those three? Mine is not raised. How do these trends start?

Golf carts belong on the golf course. They don’t even belong there. People should walk –  except when golf courses intersect with houses, gated communities, neighborhoods with extended garages and bike paths. It must start when your neighbor gets a tricked out golf cart (kind of like barbecue grills), and you think, “Hey, that looks like fun.” Overnight, it’s the invasion of the golf carts. Not lit. Not licensed. Party-mobiles.

Golf carts belong up there with tennis shoes.

Nice shoes,” I said to a stranger while waiting for the traffic light to change.

“Thanks,” she said. “I love new tennis shoes.”

“Oh,” I said, always looking for people to play tennis with. “Where do you play?”

“Oh, I don’t play tennis,” she said. “Never have. I just call them that.”

She might just as well have called them “gym shoes,” another common term (back when there was gym class), and I could have related.

Golf carts, tennis shoes, rotary phones. All the same.

“If you have a rotary phone please stay on the line,” says the automated message from the public library.

Rotary phones are right there with encyclopedias, phone books and channels.

“What channel is it on?” we used to ask about a certain television program when there were four or five clear choices.

Soon we’ll be adding man buns to that list.

“Mommy, what’s a man bun?”

Man buns started with men who have thinning hair or receding hairlines – or maybe (not to be too cynical) with hairdressers looking to increase their clientele. The result is strangely architectural and interesting. I find myself staring at them, thinking of the time and money spent on getting the parallel lines just so. Only they don’t see me staring. They see an older woman looking at them. We don’t count. You gotta hand it to these metrosexuals: they want to have fun with their body, too. They already have their cross body man bags and their man caves; they might as well have an expensive man bun to match.

Mullets? Toss ‘em to the fish.

In the whole scheme of messy things in the world none of the above much matters, does it? Just commerce as usual.

But the cost of chocolate: now there’s something to complain about. A regular Kit Kat, the treat you would snag at 10 a.m. when you got gas (standing behind someone buying lottery tickets) and you were up for hours, that little click sweetie that used to cost 50 cents? Now it’s up to $1.75.

But who can eat candy after Halloween anyway? Not me. That’s too bad because there’s so much around, especially since my new favorite four-year-old – a power ranger, don’t you know, in mind and costume – left over a bunch of stuff even though he carefully announced (with me translating) in his sweet little voice to everyone handing out candy: “Do they have peanuts? I’m allergic to peanuts.”

Except for the drive-by parents in cars, hovering in the middle of the street at the end of the night while their teens got what they could, it was a great Halloween. Plenty of animal masks. Plenty of power folk heroes, a multitude of TV/comic book/video characters I never heard of and no politicians although I did read about a certain woman who was running for president who dressed up as … president.

Best of all, though no one gives out fruit (“yuk”) or nickels: (“Daddy, what’s this?”), many of the costumed children who showed up at our Parkside house were heard to say, “Thank you.” You can’t beat that.  If they didn’t say, “Thank you,” the aforementioned power ranger four-year-old, who is allergic to peanuts and trained and mannered, was heard to query, “What do you say?”

The morning after, squashed mini candy bars littered the sidewalk and the seventh game of the World Series ended the way it should have – in Houston’s favor. I’d like to think it was Jose Altuve, the five-foot-six-inch second baseman from Venezuela (“although he’s probably five-feet-five,” one of the broadcasters – maybe Joe Buck – said) who brought it home.

I never heard such said I about such a short ballplayer. But no man bun for Jose Altuve. No mullet, either.