I had some car repairs scheduled for this morning, but stupidly forgot to reserve a loaner, which left me marooned in the dealership’s waiting room for much of the morning. I tried make the best of it. My cell phone’s batteries were almost dead, so I plugged the auto charger into a showroom Touareg and made a few calls from the driver’s seat, my very own $48,000 telephone booth. Read the Journal Gazette (six minutes), read the Financial Times (15 minutes), read Town & Country (45 seconds). The waiting room’s other reading material: Brochures on the 2005 VWs and a King James Bible (red state, or maybe the Gideons are doing car dealerships now).
Another customer was tapping away on a laptop identical to mine, which made me irritated I didn’t think to bring it. “They have a wireless network?” I asked. “No, but they have a computer for customers to use,” he said, indicating a beige box on a desk out in the showroom. Cool! Only it was like traveling back in time, a 486-era PC running Windows and IE. Dim monitor. No pop-up blocker. If the cars hadn’t been 2005 models, it would have been 1995. Every page took 20 seconds to load (I timed it). But along the way, I managed to find my way to this fine Marjorie Williams column, which I missed when it ran a year ago; it’s about the Janet Jackson Boobgate episode. As usual, Williams managed to cut to the rotten heart of the matter in a sentence or two:
It seems that only the desecration of a sacred, adult-male-oriented rite can awaken Authority’s outrage at the slime in which our children are daily bathed. (The Super Bowl isn’t supposed to be about nudity, dammit! It’s supposed to be about enormous men trying to maim each other’s kidneys!) Janet Jackson’s breast is probably the most wholesome thing your average 12-year-old has seen in a year of Sundays.
She goes on, without sounding like either a prude or a scold, to make a short list of the sort of cultural landmines most parents find themselves navigating daily — MTV, radio, video games, the sleaziness of PG-13 movies, etc. — and make some good points without sounding as though she spent the previous night sucking on a lemon. With more writers like her, we might actually be able to have a conversation about the cultural divide, but of course she’s dead, while Mona Charen, Michelle Malkin, Kathleen Parker et al will probably live to be 100, and be syndicated the whole time.
Not that I am bitter.
Speaking of video games, Kate spent a large chunk of Monday at her friend’s house next door, and reported a disagreement they had when Drake wanted to play a video game rated M (for moronic).
“If you do, I’ll have to come home,” she said, which made my heart leap like a deer, because apparently I made this rule (I have no memory of it, although I recall the gun conversation vividly), and she listened and followed it. (Those of us who don’t offer an all-seeing God to police children’s misbehavior have to believe there’s a seed of non-religious conscience inside our kids.)
“What’s the big deal?” Drake asked. “All it has is some shootings and killings and stuff.”
American children at play! So precious.