Curmudgeoning

By Blaney Pridgen

All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views  and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser

A lyric from a Gilbert and Sullivan musical:

 

Be eloquent in praise of the very dull old days

Which have long since passed away,

And convince ‘em if you can, that the reign

Of good Queen Anne was Culture’s palmiest day.

Of course you will pooh pooh whatever’s fresh and new,

And declare it’s crude and mean,

For art stopped short in the cultivated court

Of the empress Josephine.

 

I never through I’d become an old curmudgeon, but here I am pooh poohing the new.  I realized the process was well underway several years ago like slow growing cancer showing its early signs.  Sitting solitary in a family pizza joint, I discretely witnessed a family tragedy of today. A young couple took a booth with their young son and daughter maybe four and eight. At first glance I relived my past long ago and far away.  The usual wriggling and ordering and re-arranging and barking was going on. Family fun and games.  Sweet memories in the shadows of my mind. Then, the mom and dad got out their magic telephones, hunkered over them, dashing and rubbing their fingers over them as they began to ignore their children and each other.  It seemed like they were praying to some primitive idol caressed in their hands.  I could see that the girl and boy wanted, needed their parent’s attention which they never got until the pizza arrived and a second fit of re-arranging and barking re-commenced.  At one point the dad balanced a piece of pizza in one hand and his technological idol in the other. The mom tended to the kids while glaring angrily or sadly or impatiently at her husband.  Maybe she was jealous because she was missing her phone.  They were both missing something and so were the children.  Then some sad memories followed the sweet for me. O loss. O loss for everyone.

I wish my curmudgeonly ways were about more lofty matters than the slavish electric toys of social media.  Better to be righteously enraged about things philosophical, poetical, and theological, even something so common as political. Yet, I am vexed by little telephones and the dark clouds to which they are connected.  But, it is not these things.  Rather it is the pizza kids going home in a way all alone to the glare of a fired-up pad in an otherwise dark room.  Where will that lead?  I suspect destinations crude and mean.

Maybe I protest too much, at least about this.  Truth is I begrudgingly use some of that stuff, but a flip phone and what it does is as far as I’ll be going and that feels like too far already.  Remember the niche in the hallway where the old partyline perched like a blind parrot? It was a time when that thing was new too and it intruded on suppertime and took us far and away from the radio and Readers’ Digest, just as other inventions took us faraway from haylofts and dirt roads.  You know where this is going and where all old curmudgeons eventually go.  Pooh pooh the new but get over it.

The old days we sometimes eloquently praise weren’t so palmy. Perhaps the dad played a video game with his son when they got home.  Hopefully not a violent one. Still I prefer checkers or Uno until bedtime and Grays Anatomy. Uh oh.  See what I mean?

 

 

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