I told my friend Janis I had written what I considered a funny post called, “Retirement from Sex,” and she quickly replied, “Who’d wanna read that!” I told my friend Marty at work about the movie Young @ Heart, a charming story about old people, and she quickly replied, “Who’d wanna see that!” I love talking about global warming and the growing prices of gasoline, but I think I’m bumming my friends out. My wife often tells me that I make her feel guilty. Although I see dwelling on the negative as a way to pursue the positive, I’m starting to think I’m going to get nominated for Mr. Negative Man of the Year.
For example, when I hear the price of oil has hit a new record high, I know that it means economic devastation. I know high oil prices are putting people in shipping and related industries out of business, that it causing food prices to skyrocket, and overall it covers the economy with a black cloud that depresses the whole population. But I, in my weird Pollyannaish way, think, “great, this will force our society to invent new energy systems, create a green economy, and finally get us out of our dependency on buying oil from countries that want to blow us up.” My friends see $5 a gallon gas at the pump and picture what it does to their budget. I picture inventors all over the world getting busy and inventing new technology. But I’m starting to realize that my friends are looking at me like I’m crazy.
While watching Young @ Heart I saw a crowd of Sisyphuses thumbing their noses at the Fates while rolling their rocks up the hill. I figure Marty thinks about the horrors of time on the bodies of women and feels anything about getting old would be depressing. I saw a movie that said, sure you will be old, wrinkled, hurting, diseased, dying but if you have the will you can rock on and give the grim reaper the bird when he comes to collect.
When I hear about global warming I think, “Wow, humans are powerful enough to change the whole global ecosystem, then we need to be smart enough to take responsibility for our actions.” Sure, its a test of humanity. We can fail, and civilization will go down the tubes, or we can transform ourselves and society and make a better world.
When I attack a book by my favorite author, like The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, it’s not because I want trash a great writer, it’s because I want to let people know that there are other Heinlein books that are much better. There are Heinlein books that I reread every other year, and have been doing so for over forty years. I’m trying to compare the two and see which qualities of writing make a book stand out as a classic.
I think I really freaked out my wife when I told her I wanted to give up cable TV. Susan worships at the alter of the video icon. And it wasn’t as if I was planning to forsake TV altogether. I was merely wanting to cut back so I’d have more time for other hobbies, like writing science fiction. I pointed out to her that we pay $120 a month and 95% of the time we watch ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS, shows that come to our high definition TV for free, and the other shows are easy to get with our 5 concurrent disc-out-at-a-time NetFlix subscription.
Of course, what are my alternative choices? I could be depressed because gasoline prices are skyrocketing and pine away for $2 a gallon gas. I could avoid any movies or social situations with old people, and pretend I won’t be ancient someday. I could continue living like I’ve always have, and figure the problem of global warming belongs to the next generation. I could play nice and say positive things about all books I read, as if all books were worthy of reading, each one a child you must love equally. And I could give up any ambitions I have to be different and just accept I’ll be a couch potato addicted to TV shows the rest of my life.
I do think I see a pattern here. I don’t think people like change. They want to drive gas-guzzling cars until kingdom come. They want to pretend all the conspicuous consumption they love so much doesn’t have any affect on others. And most of all they want to feel forever young. Well, my fantasy is to stop watching so much TV, give up reading crappy books, and learn to play the guitar so I can join a rock n’ roll band when I’m eighty-five. By then I also expect global warming will be turned around and we’ll all be using home-grown renewable energy, and the air will be clean, clear and cool. I might be wrinkled. My dick probably won’t work beyond peeing, and maybe not pee so well either, and I might need to truck around in a wheel chair, but I hope to play music like it’s 1965.