Last night, I was coming home from a tournament in Stockton, and we stopped near Manteca to eat at an In-n-Out. Five young men entered and there's no other way of saying it, they looked pretty silly. One was swearing a T-shirt wrapped around his head and a black face mask. Another had a halloween mask of a killer clown sitting on top of his head like a hat. Three of the five wore their pants below their ass and belted across their thighs, holding them up with one hand when they walked. You could tell they thought they were the shit. They looked at everybody around them with cool disdain, pointing and laughing at different groups of people. They played with their food and made a big mess on the floor by throwing fries all over the place. One of them went to the soda machine and, walking back to his seat trying to balance his tray while holding his pants up with one hand, looked at me like I was already feeding the worms.
"Yeah, I might be heading in that direction," I thought to my myself, "but I'll take that rather than be as foolish as you look, or to listen to your music and act the way you act, or to even think the thoughts that you think."
A lot of people might think it's rude to prejudge these youths on their appearance, but it wasn't just their appearance, it was their whole demeanor, their actions, the way they laughed like hyenas as they made the mess on the floor and just left it. And besides that, I wasn't just judging from a distance, I knew exactly what was going on inside their head because, at one time in my life, I was one of those boys, and most of my guy friends were too.
I screwed shit up. It hurts a lot when I think how stupid I was, and I can't linger on it for very long because it is way too depressing. I wish so much that there had been someone back then, anyone, who could have slapped the living shit out of me and reached through that thick fog of stupidity and set me on a better path, but there wasn't. I looked. I kept waiting for someone to save me from myself, and in the absence of that person, I turned to other less worthy, people like John Lennon, or Jimi Hendrix for example. At one time on my life, I even thought that people like Jerry Rubin, Abby Hoffman, and Mario Salvo had something important to say. That is before I finally figured out what ignorant putzes they were.
How do I know that they were putzes? That's easy. For one thing, they presented everything they said as if it were the Gospel truth when it wasn't. You know like Lebron James thinking he's an expert on Sino-American relations just because a lot of his personal wealth originates in China. Or like President Biden talking about HIS policies when he's just doing what he is told. I learned one important lesson during the Covid Dark Ages and that was that these multi-millionaire celebrities who derive their wealth from the diversionary industries (read sports/entertainment) should just keep their traps shut when serious issues are being discussed. If you take lots of money to distract people from dealing with the idea of how the concept of infinity effects our relationship with the universe, then you have absolutely nothing to say that we need to hear when that same universe starts pressing in on our reality, you have nothing we need to hear. I understand the need to make a living, or even the need to attract a beautiful/handsome mate, live in a nice, big house and have an occasional meal at a great restaurant. I don't begrudge people any of that. But I do dislike people who do things using the stage at the Oscars to tell me how to think. If you want to tell me something then climb down the mountain to the valley where I live and quit shaking your jewels from the mountain tops. Do it like Gandhi, Jesus, or Dr. King did it. You'd have a lot more credibility with skin in the game. I believe that there's a special place in hell that Dante never dreamt about for people like Mr. Kimmel and them so-called ladies on The View.
My parents tried to be good role models, but the culture of the time was overwhelming. It was like getting caught in a riptide in an ocean of sewage. That outgoing current is even stronger than it was back then, and a lot of the kids nowadays have even less of a fundamental foundation to fall back on than we did. Hell, most of my friends could name more than a few of Ten Commandments. I don't think that's true of a lot of these kids nowadays.
Recently, I went to a funeral of my wife's childhood's best friend. A lot of my old friends were there and we looked, no, not looked, we are old. We look like our great-aunts and uncles used to look when we attended funerals when we were young. I was thinking of our memories and how crazy we acted, and how much we loved sharing those old stories about when we were younger and crazier and obsessed with doing crazy things. Life does that to us. It's a way of saying, do what you gotta do, Life. I ain't afraid. But that's the thing, we are afraid and spend most of our life trying to hide that fact. One of my friends told me, "Old age ain't for sissies." That's a true statement too, but life, no matter what age, ain't for sissies. It's hard and it's often tragic, and I can understand why the young try to thumb their noses at the fact. I'm guilty of the same thing when I don't allow thoughts about my forseeable future to stampede me into worrying all of time about disappearing into the mists of infinity. At my age, even getting out of bed in the morning is an act of defiance.
The thing that upsets me the most though is knowing how much better my life could have been had I lived it from the start lined up with the truth and with the understanding that doing the right thing is always better than being stupid no matter what the culture says. What an example I could and should have been, how much better a father I would have been, and how much more I could have helped the people all around me.
I know that I'm not the smartest bulb in the room, and never had been. I am just smart enough to know how much I don't know, and I'll accept that as always being better than thinking I know it all.
But, I also know, I could given those boys some great advice that could have helped them a lot had they been willing to listen.
But that always the problem, the young never have liked listening to the old. Maybe that's because we do complain a lot.