Wednesday, March 26, 2008

on the other hand... many, many cases, the growing up experience has not one thing in common with applying to colleges.
A friendly email from a reader responding to my column on Sunday reminded me gently of that fact. And he was right. The world is full of talented, skilled, energetic, creative, accomplished, successful people who have never stepped foot on a college campus.
Reading the email served as a reminder to me that my own perspective is not the only perspective. (Yes, I write an opinion column and as such, it needs perspective, preferably my own. But I appreciate people pointing out the obvious from time to time - something along the lines of: "Hey genuis! Did you ever consider ____??" Many times, I haven't.)
The school year is coming to an end for thousands of high school seniors who will graduate and begin their lives as working adults. Maybe they'll follow up on some training they began during their high school years and become skilled tradespeople, working with professonals who will continue their education, on the job.
Maybe they'll take a job in a restaurant, a retail store, a medical facility or in a business setting, and learn how to do the job at hand.
Not one of them is checking the daily mail for acceptance or rejection letters. Not one of them composed an essay about their unique talents and why they should be accepted in a university. And not one of them is taking on many thousands of dollars of debt to continue their education.
To them I say congratulations - welcome to the workforce - and believe it or not, no matter how much you looked forward to graduating, you will miss those carefree high school days.,0,7686104.column

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Inexplicable and yet, yes, still annoying

Okay, I'll admit I don't know much about men but I really don't understand this thing so many of them have about sports teams, and loyalty and unrelenting passion year after year for a game. I've had men try to explain this to me and believe me, they get no where.

The mystery about men and sports was in the headlines over the past few days because comedian Billy Crystal was able to fufill a lifelong dream - a LIFELONG DREAM - LIFELONG!!!! - to play baseball with his favorite team, the New York Yankees. He got to wear a real uniform and face a real major league pitcher and stand at bat and try to get a real honest-to-God hit during spring training with the Yankees. Apparently he got ahead on the count and then struck out.

Wow. I wish I could relate to this on some level but I can't do it. Just can't summon up much to help me conjure up what this felt like for him. Oh wait - maybe having a baby? Creating the miracle of birth, perhaps, and in a matter of seconds have a living, precious, newborn baby emerge from my body and begin life as an independent human being on this planet? Maybe that? Maybe not. I'm sure he felt something just a little deeper, a little more cosmic, a little more mystical when he swung at the ball.

The funniest stories I've read about men and sports in a long time are found in a book titled True Believers by one of my favorite writers of all time, Joe Queenan. All I can tell you is that if you want the definitive book on men as fans, particularly men who relentlessly support perennial losers, please treat yourself to this book.

But getting back to Crystal and his fascination with the Yankees, I'll have to quote Queenan because I can't do better: "Crystal is one of those infuriating New Yorkers who acts as if his passion for the Yankees involves some sort of risk, when in fact saying you support the Yankees is like saying you support the air."

I haven't looked at the comments people posted about this story on MSN because I didn't want them to influence this post with the thoughts of others. I plan to check them out, though. I'm sure they'll run ten to one in favor of this whole episode - full of delight as they exclaim over this story. They'll mostly come from men who express some kind of desire to experience the same ridiculous fantasy Crystal has vicariously lived for millions of men in America.

You wait. Next year, Crystal will produce a documentary about his Yankee at-bat experience, or start a reality show about giving people their fantasy come true or some such nonsense. I could do without that. But I could've done without this whole story, too, and that didn't seem to matter.

Star indulgence and supremely annoying fan wrapped into one story. Almost like a double-header of aggravation.

Thanks for visiting -

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

a postscript to E.P.L.

In response to Sunday's column about my strong, somewhat dismissive commentary about the book Eat, Pray, Love, I'm relieved to report that the responses I've received from women have been 100% supportive. Writing that column was kind of risky - the book is beloved by millions, and most women I know who liked it seem like perfectly reasonable people to me. Which is why I feel so confused. Maybe I'm really missing something. Maybe I'm just too grouchy to live.

So many of us find ourselves in the same psychological boat: we're challenged by everyone from Oprah to people like Elizabeth Gilbert and her ilk to "discover" ourselves but we're very, very busy trying to keep up with everyday life. It simply angers me beyond words when I hear about women who are "searching" and "contemplating," and think they are doing us some kind of cosmic favor by encouraging us to join their search for truth.

These models of personal growth seem to have crossed a line somewhere that creates - for me at least - a great divide. I'm not sure exactly what belongs on either side of that divide but the women occupying each space are substantively different. I'm going to guess that on one side, women use a phrase like "teachable moment" when they discuss experiences about raising their children. Women on the other side have never uttered those two words in the same sentence, much less as a standard phrase. Women on the enlightened side arrange play dates and memorize the school nurse's phone extension on the first day of school. The rest of us are trying hard to keep up with everything every weekend and have a school contact list posted on or near every phone in our home.

I'm not saying there's anything particularly wrong with any of those "enlightened side" attributes but when they're all wrapped up in an "I'm more evolved than you are, you poor thing" aura, it's nauseating.

I appreciate hearing from women who helped me feel like I'm not completely crazy. I'm not some kind of misanthrope who hates everyone. But I have little tolerance for privileged women who make the rest of us feel like losers. In the spirit of Nancy Reagan, we need to "just say no" to these modern day gurus of garbage. I may not be all that enlightened, but I'm hanging in there. It's gratifying to hear I'm not alone.

Thanks for visiting -

Opening email in the days following a column is always a challenge. Some people spend a lot of time and energy telling me exactly what a jerk I am, and what a waste of space my weekly column is. What I can't understnd in cases like that is why the bother to read me if I'm such an idiot. I don't waste time reading articles or columns by people who have little of interest to say to me. Why do they??