Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Pa Cartwright, the Werewolf Edition

I think I have determined what is to be the ultimate gauge of reaching that magical ‘age of maturity’. I think... noooo, I am pretty sure, it’s that point when you say ‘Oh please, not another vampire book!’

I find myself yearning for something different, something without bloodsucking vampires or werewolves. I want to see heroes and villains who do not have to spend a chapter trimming the hair from between their toes, or who actually sit down to a real meal. Do we need vampire sex to keep us entertained? Seriously, what is going to top that?

It makes me sad that my children can’t name a good western movie. They look at me as if I am from another planet if I mention Zane Grey or Max Brand, and they believe that Louis L’Amour writes... gasp!... romance. What was wrong with a western? No, they weren’t particularly erudite, but come on... look at the books that are gushed over right now and tell me they are about smart writing, then do it with a straight face.

In essence, wasn't Cpt. Kirk just Pa Cartwright in weird clothes?
Perhaps we need to recreate the genre. I mean, they used six shooters. *insert  facecious eye roll here* They had names like Festus, and Marshall Dillon and Miss Kitty. Perhaps we need to put the Cartwright boys on Harleys instead of horses, arm them with AK’s, have them sleeping in coffins at the ole Ponderosa. Maybe we need to have the women WANT to be tied to the tracks, instead of screamig for help. The classic westerns were perhaps a bit hokey, but they taught us about enjoyment in simplicity, gave us contentment that good will triumph over evil. Caring about each other was good, helping without there being anything in it to benefit was better, lying was not cool, and people used reason, logic and respect instead of guns and ninja kicks to solve every problem. They allowed us to watch, or read, then go to bed without having nightmares filled with blood and guts and eyes that wear really strange contacts.

It feels sometimes like we try to recreate the past, or maybe just ignore it. The truth of the matter is, as any person who has researched a family tree can tell you, there are some amazing, wonderful, brave, inspired stories from that time, and those people ARE a part of us. They are not just pictures on a website or old yellow newspapers in boxes tucked in cobwebbed corners of attics; they are real stories of the stock from which we have sprung. Like all things ‘old’, we want to disown it, hide it, cover it over with lasers and tazers and flying surfboards of doom. We don’t need to put Lash Larue on Survivor island (although, I have to say, he would probably kick some serious butt there). We don’t have to create stories of people who suck blood for kicks.

When you come down to it, each of us, born on North American soil, has a story that stems back to that time. Westerns are the stories of our parents, our grandparents, our ancestors ten-times removed. Believe me, when you consider the hardships they overcame, the progress they made, the gifts that they gave (including each of us), they were pretty amazing people. The women worked, damned hard, at birthing babies, hoeing gardens, cleaning dirt floors, and taking care of everything that came along. They could handle a gun as easily as a broom or a team of horses in harness, didn’t take bullshit from men, and certainly didn’t ‘need’ a vampire man or a business man to prove their self-worth. They would scoff at the weak women in Twilight, and would find the women of Fifty Shades of Grey to be nothing but pathetic.

There has always been a desire in human kind to reach for the future, to have some grasp on what is to come, speculating on the beyond and creating it as we would like it to be. Granted, now it comes with more blood, more evil (because apparently people throughout history have not been evil or cruel enough), but it’s still that same quest that was started by the likes of Gene Roddenberry and Isaac Asimov. There is much, however, in embracing our roots, celebrating where we came from, acknowledging that while they weren’t battling vampires (well, with the exception, apparently, of Abe Lincoln, who I mistakenly found out this summer was a vampire slayer), they were battling the everyday hardships of life, battles that should not be forgotten.  There would be gold in them thar pages, if only we would let them be seen.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Little Patina is a Good Thing

“My fingernails look young. The rest of me looks old.” I paraphrase, but this was the essence of a conversation I had today. It got me to thinking about ‘looking old’. Hypothetical: would you want to be rounding the curve towards sixty, yet still look twenty? Yes, I admit to the odd twinge of regret when I look in the mirror and see the headlights, even with adjustment, still shine down on the road right in front of my feet, instead of brightening that long, exciting road ahead. That could be in part a blessing, because between my eyes, my coordination and my balance, looking down that road any distance would just be a harbinger for disaster. Perhaps my headlights are focused right where they need to be.

I would have a lot of trouble if I had to dress like a twenty year old. Sorry, but the clothes I wore when I was twenty would really not work today. My body that looks twenty years old would be at constant odds with my mind that can’t even see a shadow of twenty in my rearview. Six inch heels now? My legs might say ‘hell yes!’ but my brain would be smacking the little red emergency button. That whole business with wearing your pants so low that your butt crack beams out at anyone behind you, and you waddle like a penguin because your crotch is at your knees would be a decided bad look with your incontinence garb. It would also be problematic with navigating stairs, getting into vehicles, or, well, walking to the kitchen. Once we give in to the clothes, can rap music be far behind?

I’m not sure I would want to look twenty when the person I love and have shared life with for thirty-plus years looks his age. I am damned sure I would be more than a little self-conscious (sic paranoid) if the tables were reversed, and he looked that much younger than me. Yes, aging gracefully is a great thing, and there is no reason to throw up your hands in despair, giving up at the first liver spot and allowing all the forces of nature to have their way with you, but do we need to be so consumed about it? Perhaps there is a reason we all go through the same process... so that we can see the beauty in each age, in each stage, both inside and out.

All of this begs the question ‘what is wrong with looking old?’ There is a classic beauty to a vintage car. They have rallies for them, where people gather around to listen to them purr. No one kicks the tires or slams the doors at these events; the beauties have earned some respect. The value of many antiques is in the treasured patina, the evidence of age, on the finish. To the trained eye, the connoisseur, the evidence of age IS the beauty. They don’t want to see the laugh lines of life erased from the face of a buffet, the little scars sanded away from the table top.

Perhaps we need to look at the ‘little things’ we do as aids to feeling beautiful on the inside, a means for us to show that while we can’t stop time (or gravity, that heartless bitch), we can still say ‘look at me’. Just like the vintage car still needs nice tires, so can a nice pair of shoes make a world of difference to going out to lunch with the ladies. So what if your nails look younger than the rest of you? They make you feel good, they give you a chance to pamper yourself, take time that is for you. Get your hair done, or get a massage, then go out and celebrate that you did.

Besides, if you think back to twenty, when your hair was thick (and on the top of your head, where it belongs, instead of all those other places it decides to migrate to with time) and your boobs were perky, do you really have the energy for that? Sorry, I am all for taking care of oneself, but I am no longer interested in making it a full time job.