Bushy Bushy Blonde Hairdo
As one grows older, maturity should kick in and guide the individual away from the social entrapments and general ignorance of childlike observations. But the road is neither straight or founded in logic. When a person walks by, no matter the ensemble or the environment, you will ponder internal opinions based on their appearance and attitude. The locale may be exotic or painfully predictable, but human nature kicks in when it is time to project one's opinions and thoughts onto another pedestrian. Bill Rhodes had been pondering a large and complex issue over the past few days and wanted to share it but as an adult, surprising or unpredictable thoughts coming out of adult minds tend to raise many red flags.
He held onto the urge and postponed a discussion until the next day when he was having lunch at the same table with a lifelong friend. They met for lunch at least fifty times a year and the duo rarely did anything substantial but ate near each other. Their mannerisms and non-verbal communications were honed over a forty-year friendship and an eyebrow raise or a quick exhale spoke volumes.
"Tommy, may I ask you a question?"
"Sure, Billy. Lay it on me."
"Why is there so much evil in the world? Why are we so screwed up?"
Tommy was surprised; he thought he was going to get a question about the Royals or further insight or continued argument about the infield fly rule. They have been arguing the validity of the rule for most of their lives but his question today raised questions about the human condition.
"That is a helluva question coming from you."
"I know but things seemed to be getting worse, not better. The future seems extremely bleak and I don't know if I am just noticing it because it is age appropriate or because things are just worse and worse."
"Well, I can't tell you for sure what is going to happen but one has to believe."
"That's it? That is all you got? 'One has to believe?'"
"Okay, how about 'Blessed are they who believed before there was any evidence.'"
That's better but it still isn't your best work."
"Well, I stole that line from Jim Watson but for a last minute philosophical concept, it isn't bad."
The issue with adults is rarely do they change opinions or collective circles of friends. The familiar provides both consistency of purpose and a firm, comfortable grasp of the known. When Tommy and Bill are having lunch, the chance of some new opinion or substantive changes in current life approaches are rare. While comfortable, it also causes a certain amount of stale thoughts to lay on top of surviving stratas of other, far older, stale thoughts. Bill was just becoming aware of this and it troubled him; he always fancied himself as a forward thinker and on the edge with it came to topics of culture, art and music. But as he left the lunch, he realized he hadn't bought any new music, gone to any new restaurants and recently realized he knew neither host or the musical guest on Saturday Night Live.
At the next scheduled lunch, Bill stated "We are in a rut. Our collective minds have closed and we accept only the known and the familiar. We do not represent the future or the present but we are, and remain stuck, in the past."
"No argument from me," said Tommy. "I have also seen the creeping of something far more troubling than old age: complacency."
"What do you want to do about it?"
"I have an idea," said Tommy.
Two younger men in their early twenties walked in the restaurant. Both were wearing the clothes of a person in the first job after college and shared a look of relief as they walked into the restaurant. They were back in a comfort zone and wanted to relax but before they caught the attention of the server, Tommy waved them over to their booth and said, "Sit down, we have a few questions for you."
Without much of an explanation, Tommy explained to the young men that they were roughly their age once and wanted to run a few things past them. The two older guys posed no threat and after negotiating free lunches, the men sat down at the booth for the questioning. Neither Tommy or Bill would initially admit it, but the two young men bore a striking resemblence to the older men, albeit thirty years in the past. The tall one had a pronounced and significant main of bushy blonde hair; which appeared to be neither combed or considered. But the presentation grew in such a way it appeared he was continually receiving substantia electrical shocks. The shorter one had close-cropped hair, like a Ken doll, which also appeared not have seen a comb for many years but only due to the general waste of time which likely resulting in trying to comb hair which was no longer than an eighth of an inch.
The two groups of men exuded quiet confidence; the older two based their collective opinions on general wisdom and the awareness of passing trends and flawed ideas which dissolved with the passing of time. The younger men had energy, a lack of fear and a curious respect for life yet lived. Neither appeared to be afraid to defend youthful opinions or momentary fads which currently had caught their attention. The four quickly ordered lunch and faced each other in an alternative seating arrangement which caused each participant the discovery of being flanked by both members of the opposite team.
"Okay, old timer. Let's hear what you have to say" said bushy bushy blonde Hairdo. "What can we teach you?"
"Calm down, haircut. I don't need to pick up the latest lingo, I need to validate to my friend a theory of mine."
"You will hear about it later, I need to start with a few questions."
"Let's go." The other young man nodded in support.
"Okay, first question: When looking at the future, do you fear it for formal reasons including global warming, the flattening of the world economy, the flawed Social Security model, virulent unnamed diseases, civil strife at home and abroad?"
"While I am not crazy about the current state of the planet, I don't fear it."
"Neither do I," said Ken. "I wish it wasn't that way but it is going to be something no matter the circumstances. You guys had Vietnam, race riots, the draft, the Jefferson Airplane, lame social mores, archaic technology and a lot of lazy hippies screwing up the works for the hard-working guy who wanted to get somewhere."
"That's true," said Bill. "Things weren't as bad as that but time makes things less daunting."
"I am not happy about the way things are now but it is the cards we were being dealt. However, I think our music sucks more than your music did."
"Thanks but what we are trying to figure out is where do our opinions get entrenched. When things get comfortable, we believe our minds close up."
"Well, I am worried about many things," said the Ken doll, "but I don't know if they are worrisome because I don't know any better, because the unknown seems to a tricky thing to fight or because they are monumental issues."
"Such as?" said Tommy.
"Such as having a good job, getting married, buying a house, having kids, going to school plays, putting up with horny boyfriends if I have girls or slutty girlfriends if I have boys, general hypocrisy which comes from telling kids to do what you say versus what you did as a teenager and things like that."
"Not a bad list," said Bill. "I can tell you that those things work out fairly well. While you seem to worry a lot about the health and welfare of your potential childen, I want to let you know it isn't as bad as you fear. The whole boyfriend and girlfriend thing has always been a tricky arena so I urge caution and a certain flexibility when dealing with absolute concepts."
"You can tell me not to worry but you guys have been through it. While we are still young, these life consquences are looming and if you are curious, we can feel it."
"I can dig it," said Tommy. "The only advice I got for you is that your parents aren't as stupid as you think and never drink and drive. Anything else can be fixed."
"We are also entrenched with our life as well," said the Ken doll. "Most things we enjoy were imprinted on our mind in a point of time. Our music isn't the same music as the teenagers are listening to now and we are viewed as the older generation in some circles. Our idea of fun is unique to us as well, each generation has its own view of reality and I think ours will remain consistent when in thirty years when we talk to some young punks."
"I think 'punks' is a good enough description," said Billy. "Let's eat."
The table collectively waved over the waitress and quickly ordered their lunches. No one asked for any substitutions or anything on the side; three of the four got another round and Tommy switched to coffee. When the new drinks arrived, Bill had several more questions for them.
"Okay, next question. How much money do you make?"
The young guys were feeling comfortable so they was no pushback from either one. "I make forty thousand" said the Ken Doll. "So do I," said Bushy Bushy Blonde Hairdo.
"How much do you make?" asked the Ken Doll.
"I make about two hundred thousand dollars," said Tommy.
"I make a little less: about one hundred and seventy thousand," said Billy.
"Wow, you guys are loaded. And you are SO paying for the lunch and drinks," said the Ken Doll.
"That kind of money grows up around you," said Billy. "When you don't have it, you want it. And when you finally start making good money, everything you want has already been bought and paid for a few times over.
"Which means," said Tommy. "It begins to accumulate."
"Do you punks own houses yet?"
"I have a condo," said Ken Doll.
"An apartment?" said Tommy.
"Basically but I know I can resell it without a lot of anguish, I am also getting the tax break and actually seeing some equity."
"How about you, haircut?"
Bushy smiled and said, "I am fairly close on a house."
"Far be it to tell you what to do," said Tommy. "But get that house bought as soon as you can because renting is for kids and fools. Get ownership in something as soon as you can and even if it is a craphole, you can do a lot with some sweat equity."
Bushy appreciated the honesty and said, "I will get that knocked off before the end of the month" and raised his hand and said, "I promise."
"Good. The only thing that works for everyone is buying something they can afford. Don't go nuts but buy something which is a bit of a stretch."
The Ken doll paused and said, "Do you think that was the main cause of the sub-prime issue?"
"No," said Tommy. "I think it was because a lot of folks wanted something before they could truly afford it and found people to foolishly satisfy that want."
"A combination of greed and ignorance," concluded Billy.
"That's fair. I believe there are cycles, especially dealing with human condition. It could be the 1929 crash, the sub-prime issue, energy demands versus energy realities," said Bushy Bushy Blonde Hairdo.
"The cycles are always around but these days, there are far more variables as the global economy starts gaining momentum."
"So, we can reduce our intake of oil but China will slurp up the extra?"
"Bummer. Well, it is what it is. So, can we ask you old timers a few things?"
"Sure, fire away."
"Tell us a few things you wished you had learned years ago."
Tommy smiled and said, "I got two. The first is the importance of old sayings; they are fairly accurate clues to the human condition. And the second one, make sure you write things down: your memory will fail you."
Billy said, "Those two are good. I have one more: don't think you have stumbled upon some great truth and you get all pissy because you think you have come up with some new idea....you haven't."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean people spend too much time trying to find simple answers to complex problems. Complex problems are worn down through numerous attempts and a LOT of hard work. Too many people today are looking for some magic bullet or some easy answer. Things are solved in a linear fashion: things are solved with hard work, time, persistence, hard work, a little luck and a bit more persistence."
"Well, history books sure make things seem to be fairly straightforward."
"Well, history is considered 'lies agreed upon.'"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean things always seem sensible when you read about them. One assumes the country just marched into World War II without a single dissident opinion. However, if one looks, the public was only forced into agreeing after Pearl Harbor. The atrocities in Europe and the Pacific were well-known and documented and until the United States was attacked, all that was happening over here was debate."
"Really. We have gone off on a tangent but we did give you some advice. That is about all you guys can handle today. If you want to have lunch again, you can buy."
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