We’re all in strange times at the moment. They in turn lead to strange thoughts and actions.
My mother always said to never wear ratty underwear because someone might notice if I got into an accident. I remember pondering that a bit. I envisioned myself lying in the middle of a street, my bike mangled beyond recognition by an impact with a large truck, and medics hovering over me applying bandages to open wounds.
“Carl, we need to stem the bleeding at his hip area. And by the way, have you noticed the condition of those Fruit of the Looms? Let’s do this kid a favor and just shred ’em with the trauma sheers. His mother should be ashamed he’s wearing those.”
It’s coming on 60 years, and I finally get it. It wasn’t about me, it was about what everyone else would think.
It was about judgment. That never goes out of style.
Looking back, all I was trying to do in those days was to keep up with my peers. For example, when I noticed in the gym locker room that the cool kids were suddenly sporting those hip new colored briefs, I wanted them too. But I accepted my family’s economic situation and instead wore the standard issue, inexpensive, solid white Looms purchased courtesy of a blue light special at K-Mart. I had ten seconds of self-consciousness as I quickly changed my clothes before and after gym class.
As peer pressure and self-esteem issues went, the underwear were the least of my problems anyway.
But if judgments were indeed levied by others in those adolescent days, I at least understood their terms. It wasn’t complicated. It had to do with affordability and status; you either had something or you didn’t. It wasn’t thankfully about ideology. That came later via friends, co-workers, neighbors, and bar stool acquaintances.
Which brings me somehow to this current, post-election period here in the United States. Judgments are rampant at the moment.
Just like our brethren in post-Brexit Britain, we are collectively resorting to finger-pointing and trash talking at our fellow citizens. Except because this is America, and we like to bring in a commercial aspect to everything whenever possible, our onslaught of judgments is about separating and dividing based on the products being purchased. You can judge a man not by the content of his character, but by his credit card statement.
If that’s the case, I’m done for. I’m headed to putting on my underpants quickly again. Metaphorically speaking, of course.
According to a recent Washington Post article, the level of partisan discord in the U.S. is now reaching such heights that even your favorite box of Kellogg’s cereal classifies you as liberal and anti-American. It’s apparently the fault of that radical, leftist Kellogg Company in Battle Creek. Boy, and you think you know a company.
But come on, how could there be an issue about buying a box of Corn Flakes from the grocery store? For God sakes, what’s more American than a bowl of Corn Flakes? Why, a number of us are brazen enough to select the frosted ones instead. And except for your dentist, no one’s judging you for that, right?
Think again, you innocent.
Quite frankly, I always had a suspicion about that tiger of theirs, Tony. I mean, please. What’s with the bandana? A red bandana at that. This is a good example they’re setting for our children??
Oh, wait, we like Russia now, don’t we? Oh, never mind.
Lest you think this is only a conservative backlash, I’m seeing that liberals aren’t taking this lying down. Not to be outdone, they’ve created an app to make sure that one doesn’t buy from the “wrong” company. Among the slew of products now deemed politically tainted are those from the Nike shoe company. It seems that Nike’s erreur de jugement was to open a store in Trump Tower. Those fascists!
And those are just two examples. It actually goes on and on. For instance, conservatives continue to call for a boycott on the (note: continuously sold out) Broadway performances of “Hamilton,” while liberals are listing Kitchen Aid appliances as verboten because that company is helping to sponsor a Trump golf tournament. Shout-out to all you liberal foodies out there: stop buying those mixers, stat!
Somewhere in heaven I have to believe Rosa Parks is rolling her eyes right now.
I am constantly feeling overwhelmed by the bombardment of so-called movement boycotts against this business or that corporation. Avoid Barilla pasta products because of anti-gay comments made by its company’s chairman (apparently now rescinded); Stay away from Walmart to protest their gun sale policies and refusal to offer employees health insurance (both issues now supposedly addressed); Boycott Target because of their transgender bathroom use policies (I have no clue on the status of that one because it never made sense to me to begin with).
Someone once told me Lowe’s was the “blue” store and Home Depot the “red” one. Well, that might be, but in either place I still have to search high and low for someone to direct me to the right aisle for rust remover. Liberal or conservative, they never hire enough staff to rescue customers like myself who wander helplessly in their stores.
Truth be told, I don’t think I have it in me anymore to constantly keep my ear to the ground of all the latest social protests and boycotts of this franchise or that one.
I’m as repulsed as anyone else by bad behavior, racist policies, and outright prejudice. If it’s an habitual and flagrant violation of another person’s civil rights — such as when certain Denny’s franchises refused to serve African-Americans a few years back — then I can easily avoid patronizing that chain. But please, spare me your politicized agendas to boycott whatever “flavor of the month” cause that will force me to run around in circles to buy a mixer, a pair of sneakers, or see a Broadway show.
No, I’m not happy with the results of the last election. But I’m going to suck it up for the next four years and fight the good fight at the next ballot box. Certain organizations will continue get some of my money, too. I am not burying my head in the sand.
And for the record, your humble blogger is a Hanes briefs man. I’ve got all the colors in the rainbow now, and there’s nary a white shade in my drawer. With adulthood comes rewards.
Until next time…