With the disaster that is ‘Big Government’ upon us, not the mention the looming threat of the year 2012, (according to the Mayans, that is) I thought that perhaps this was as good a time as any to take a long, hard look at those things we hold dear, our ‘Traditions’.
Each of us, whether we admit to it or not, has a certain set of rituals we perform for given events. No matter if it’s inviting your boorish brother-in-law over for Christmas dinner, although you’d rather have your manhood squeezed in a vise than listen to his pompous attitude about the state of things in Bahrain, (of which he couldn’t locate on a map) or celebrating the arrival of Friday afternoon with other drunken co-workers in a specific tavern, far from prying eyes (or so you think), we all have Traditions. But, in this day of e-mail, i-phones, holistic healing, and self-service vasectomies, we must ask ourselves the question; Do our traditions even matter anymore, or are these simply things we cling to for comfort in a ‘Brave, New World’? I asked myself this question recently, and I discovered that the answer was…’C’.
I grew up in the hill country of
Eastern Tennessee, a place where tradition goes hand in hand with inbreeding. Growing up in what many would call a ‘backwards culture’, I was forced to consider if any of my own traditions still held merit today. The answers surprised even me.
As a young boy, I remember taking my first deer, and being told that, in order to pay homage to the animal, I needed to drink the blood, then eat the heart. I did these things without argument, and, tradition being a ruthless master, passed these things on down to my own children. Of course, I now know that drinking animal blood is considered barbaric by some, (even by members of ‘Team Edward’) and eating too many organ meats can result in a nasty bout with gout, but I continued to hold onto these traditions for years. Until, that is, the doctor told me that the red stains on my teeth and painful feet were direct results of this practice. (He also informed me that he had taken a 12-point buck with his Buick Electra over the weekend, but that’s another story)
Okay, you say, I’m not from such a backwards, inbred culture such as yourself, so how does this pertain to me? Well hang on, kiddies. Let’s just take a look at some so-called ‘Cultured Traditions’.
We awake from a restless night and head into the kitchen for that first cup of coffee, followed (by many) with that first cigarette. Not coffee, you say? Well then, perhaps tea, or one of those energy drinks. Regardless, you have a routine you follow. Maybe it’s the route you take to work, or to drop off the younguns at school. Maybe it’s the fact you always check your e-mail on your i-phone, right after you get on the onramp, moving along at 65 mph, oblivious to the geriatric driver who refuses to let you merge with the flow of traffic. (This is WHY we have handguns)
Or maybe it’s your Saturday afternoon routine of taking the fucking loved ones to the park, or the zoo, to better expose them to the wonderful world of nature held captive behind electric fences and lying uncomfortably on cold, damp concrete.
Perhaps it’s ‘Game Day’, where you invite the same guys you hung out with in college over to your house, (as you’ve been doing for well over 20 years) and you sit around in front of the TV cheering on the Michigan ‘Wolverines’ as they hand the Texas ‘Longhorns’ asses to them in overtime, (even though you all graduated from Ohio State) and spend several hours in drunken oblivion, as your wives, girlfriends, and significant others tell stories about your shortcomings in bed, your desires to get a lawn tractor, or your odd habit of handing out subscriptions to ‘Playboy’ to all the little kids during Halloween. All of these, are TRADITIONS. But, do they even have a place in society anymore?
There was a time, long ago, (5 years) when we sent out a plethora of Christmas Cards during the holidays, and tackily displayed the ones we received on the refrigerator. Now, we send out our wishes for a ‘Happy Holiday’ via e-mail, and delete the wishes that come to us in the same manner, or move them to a file labeled ‘Bullshit from the family’.
There was the Saturday night tradition of going to the drive-in, and, as a child, fighting in the backseat with your brother, while smelling the mosquito coil burning on the dashboard. Then, as we got older, finger-banging Lori Looselace in the backseat, the aroma of some good Thai wafting within the car, while watching ‘Plan 9 from Outer Space’, or ‘Attack of the Killer Tomatoes’. Nowadays, it’s sitting there watching ‘Survivor’, ‘American Idol’, or (God help us) ‘Real Housewives of Omaha’.
We had role models. For my generation (‘Gen-WTF’, remember?), it was guys like Audey Murphy, Lee Marvin, George Foreman (he didn’t always sell cookware), and even Michael Jordan. Now, it’s people like Brett Michaels, Bradley Manning(who should be hung for treason), Julian Assange, some pale-assed vampire wannabee, or (again, God help us) Super-slut Snookie. (I SO want my grand-daughter to be like her.)
There was a time, again, long ago, when we celebrated each Sunday by sitting around the dinner table and engaging each other in meaningful conversation,. But these days, we have to pull little Johnny away from the PS-3, and yank the earbuds out of Jane’s head as she listens to Lady Gaga (is that REALLY appropriate for a 7-year-old?) before we can sit down to enjoy our low-fat, low-carb, non-existent taste microwavable meal. And let’s not forget that dad has to be called several times to come up from the basement, unwilling to tear himself away from the cool porn site he found while surfing the net looking for the keyword ‘Barnyard’.
We celebrated Memorial Day by flying the flag and remembering those who had fallen to preserve our way of life. Now, we protest military funerals, chanting ‘God hates fags’. Where the hell did this come from? How did things get so fucked-up?
Kinky sex meant that your girlfriend would swallow. Today, it means receiving oral sex from a vampire, or sharing your partner with a host of others as you videotape it to post online (see ‘Barnyard’ above).
Coming of age meant that your 8-year-old wanted to get her ears pierced. Now, it’s the 8-year-old wanting to get HIS nipples pierced. (It WILL look great with that ink he had done last month)
School was a chance to see our friends and act like total idiots, and learning useless facts about our Founders, the California Gold Rush, or…the Mayans. Today, it’s learning how to sneak a Glock-17 through the metal-detector, or making a big score on some crystal-meth. Maybe even shooting that bully that called you a retard in the head with the Glock, rather than going behind the gym after school to settle it.
Sports meant shagging flyballs with your dad, or going fishing. Today, it’s rooting for ‘Team Edward’, or sitting in front of the Wii, eating energy bars and washing them down with Red Bull. (and we wonder WHY we have increased incidences of ADHD?) Fantasy has become the reality, and reality is the fantasy we try to escape from.
Back to the Mayans for a sec. These guys had some really GREAT traditions. Virgin sacrifice, tearing the hearts out of ‘the chosen’, self-imposed penis mutilation, and dressing up in some really cool outfits. But one day, they saw change on the horizon. And it wasn’t good change (or ‘HOPE’ either, for that matter). So, they disappeared. They became an unknown part of history, leaving behind only a veiled threat of disaster looming on the horizon. (plus the premise for a really crappy movie of the doomsday date)
(Personally, I think that sacrificing all the virgins had something to do with their demise, but what do I know? I’m from a culture of ‘backwards inbreds’)
Already, the nutcases are already out on the street, preaching about the impending ‘End’, just as they did in 1984, the year 2000, (remember the discomfort you felt with the arrival of Y-2K), or the Halebot Comet, in which some of the wiser among us decided to remove themselves from the population (and you call ME backwards?).
But, maybe it IS time to take a long, hard, critical look at our traditions, and see if they still manage to hold a place in our present time. A time, I might add, full of uncertainty.
And while you do that, I’m going to sit back with a nice, warm cup of deer blood, and finish off my third cigarette. Besides, Lori Looselace is coming over with a can of Crisco, a package of Pampers, and her pet Mayan vampire iguana, ‘Eduardo’.
Sic vis pacem, parabellum, (or is that portabella?)