Spreading some questionable cheer
The most ethical and trustworthy FBI director in the history of America made a curious and banal statement a couple months ago. It triggered this short essay. He said that someday the Republicans, during the Trump administration, will have to answer someday to their grandchildren why they supported such a corrupt President as Trump. That’s not the first time I’ve heard that idiom about answering to my grandchildren.
The truth is my grandkids have never once asked me a question like that. They might ask me, “Do I want water with dinner?” But that’s about it. In fact, they’re just like I was with my grandfather. I never asked my grandfather a question of any substance. My grandfather left Italy to come here. Do you think a dunderhead like me would have been curious about his story? NOOOOOO!!!!, of course not. I was concerned about what desperate girl I was going to get for the Junior Prom who had no serious misgivings on dating a troll.
I recently discovered that my grandfather was a shepherd in Sicily. How many of you had a grandpa that was shepherd? Did I ever ask him about the details of his youthful life? NOOOOOOOO!!!!, of course not. I was focused on keeping up with important things like the batting average of Phil Rizzuto and Mickey Mantle.
My grandpa came here on a boat. What were his accommodations like? What kind of food was available on the boat? How many days did it take? Of course I asked none of those questions. After all, he was just my grandpa, not a person who was interesting.
Who in the family was left behind in Italy? Did he go to school in Sicily? I knew that he couldn’t read but I was concerned about getting my baseball glove in shape. No time for questions.
My grandfather was an immigrant to the this country. Did I ever ask him about life in New York City? Who did he live with in New York? Where were his parents? What jobs did he have in the Big Apple? How did he get to Fredonia? How did he meet grandma? What work did he find here in Fredonia? How did he get enough money to buy a farm? He was an immigrant for crying out loud and he bought a farm. How did he make enough money to buy a house?
What fascinating stories my grandparents had to tell me but did I ask? Of course not. I was too concerned about my own boring stories. I am very disappointed in myself.
¯ Proctor & Gamble recently caused quite a media stir with a new razor add. It was an anti-toxic masculinity commercial. I guess the company wants American men to tone it down a bit. We manly men are exuding testosterone all over the place and ladies are concerned. Apparently, we want more girly men.
Being born an Italian- American, I was born with TM (toxic masculinity). If they had sonograms back then, it would’ve shown me as a fetus smoothing down a mustache. Following my birth, they handed me to my dad, he kissed me and then gave me my first shave.
No baby formula for little Nin or any Italian baby boy. We go right to the barbecue sausage and peppers, mild at first as a concession to our youth.
My TM was sustained by visits to my farming grandparents. There was no, “Do you want cookies and milk,” for me. It was “Anthony, here’s your pickled pig hocks and wine.”
My toxic masculinity went nuclear in high school though it was not a variety to be favored. Around prom time the girls at Fredonia High School would fear a phone call at home. The thought of sharing my masculinity for hours under the gym decorations of Evening By The Sea would make girls vomit. That’s how toxic I was.
There are certain activities that I do that manifest now my TM. I feel pretty toxic when I mow the grass. Just think of the danger a man faces in that activity. I’m using a machine. Men use machines. That sucker has a dangerous blade on it. In the face of that whirling danger, I am braving it and tending to my fields. You don’t see my toxically feminine wife doing that because she has other duties to fulfill her feminine toxicity. We are a toxic couple and we know that we make others sick.
In a few months, my TM will be on full display once more on the golf course. My golfing skills are so toxic that everyone watching are made sick. When I hit the ball, my partners turn their backs to maintain their healthy stomach. And then I turn my back on my partners. We are a sickening bunch of guys. Fortunately, we don’t subject many others to our TM. We are usually hidden by the woods.
¯ A few weeks ago, a bright young little lady approached the Fredonia Board of Education with a troublesome issue. She didn’t believe that the mascot for Fredonia school teams was an appropriate tag for students. They are known as “Hillbillies” which is imbued with derogatory images and meanings. She discovered that a hillbilly is an unsophisticated country person. It’s this second-grader’s understanding that all Fredonians are really smart and use kind words.
Well, anyone who reads this column knows that this young lady’s impression about everybody in Fredonia as smart is obviously wrong. In addition to that mistaken assumption, not all of my words are kind. But she has a point. Perhaps it’s time for a new mascot and I have a suggestion.
I offer a new mascot for Fredonia. It will no longer be the Hillbilly. From henceforth, they will be known as the Fredonia IQ’s. The Intelligence Quotients is too involved for a mascot name so the IQ’s prevail.
That would require all new cheers for the IQ’s sports teams taking into consideration intelligence and kind words.
Let’s say that the Fredonia IQ’s are playing the Dunkirk Marauders in basketball. A standing room only crowd is all excited to hear the first new cheer promoting the new team mascot.
The cheerleaders take to the floor. The crowd comes to a hush where one can hear a metaphor whisper. The chant begins,
” We are the Q’s, we are the Q’s.”
” We don’t use words that hurt and abuse.”
” We love you Marauders and still play to win.”
” But it’s our SAT scores that make us grin.”
Here’s a new version of the old reliable cheer that every team uses.
” Two, four, six, eight”
” What things do we appreciate?”
” Queen moves, to subjugate
” Sorry, my friend – it’s a checkmate.”
“Two, four, six, eight
what things do we appreciate?
calculate, facilitate, contemplate,
Here’s one more fitting for the smart and kind words set.
“Buffy, Buffy, he’s our man. If he can’t do it, silly, of course he can.”
Chase, Chase, he’s our man, he’s off to Yale, to be a Congressman.”
“Advance, IQ’s, advance.”
Nin Privitera is a Fredonia resident. His column appears monthly in the OBSERVER. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org