Thursday, June 19, 2014

Urban in the Suburban

I have been working the past few weeks in a Southwest suburb of the Twin Cities. I have had a chance to observe the driving behavior of the suburbanite in its natural habitat and I have to say, I have found it wanting.

What's with all the anger?

I hate love to stereotype, so, I will state the angriest species of driver is the 31-42 year old male, facial-haired, baseball-capped, driving a white pick-up truck. This particular animal likes to blow through a stop light, and not by a little, and then give you the finger. He zigs and zags from lane to lane on 494 or the Crosstown with an aggressiveness that is pathological. He acts like everyone in his way is an enemy and laws do not apply to him. Did I mention his truck is white.

Now I have long held that males between the age of 16 and 30 are mentally ill when it comes to driving. I suffered from the malady myself. But one does reach an age when driving becomes a sanctuary. It's not work, its not home. One looks forward to it. While driving you can listen to what you want, I prefer books on tape (more about that in a later post), you can listen to the radio or be alone with your own thoughts. I even know a guy who does the rosary every day on the way to work. God bless him, and I mean that, but that's too much bead work for me. The point is he is doing what he wants and I can do what I want before getting to the craziness of co-workers at work or being attacked by kids and wife at home. 

These suburban pips driving in there white symbols of generative power must have a better place to be then the truck, 494 or the Crosstown. Is it a man-cave (i.e. lower level of a split level hell). What do they do there? My guess: put on a baseball cap and play Call of World of Warcraft IX; the Legend of Duty (L.A. Pimp Edition). Or maybe its off to softball with the boys and a blooming onion at Chili's afterward. Or is it off to the Cineplex to see Marvel's Agents of DC Comics III, the Dark Pawn. Hard to say.

Either way, what is clear is they have not shed the mental illness of youth, or much else of youth come to think of it. They have no need to be alone with their thoughts, work does not stress them and family is not yet a responsibility. I wonder if these "men" will every take up the mantel of adulthood. I look around and wonder. 

They seem to be part of a generation of boy/men who watch comic book movies, dress in sports jerseys, storm off-world planets in video games and speed through life in their truck, deadened to the concern of others. Three generations ago, real boys, 18 year-olds, stormed the beaches on D-Day, fought through the Battle of the Bulge, island hopped across the Pacific and raised the flag at Iwo Jima. Hard to imagine those who came back, those whose buddy's died next to them, those who fought for others, being anything less than men. Hard to imagine the white pickup driver could understand. 

To one, the rosary was comfort in the dark. To the other its, at best, a rear-view mirror decoration.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Father's day

Driving home from work today on Fairview I was winding around a biker (who should be locked up as a mental case for biking on Fairview during rush hour) and I saw a young mom and dad walking along. Mom had the 4 year old daughter in her hand and dad had the 10 month old baby on a sling on his front, facing out.  

Why does that make me cringe?

Now I have five kids and I read them books, teach them to swim, coach their teams, tuck them in at night and all other things a modern caring sensitive male is required to do. In fact, I enjoy doing such things. But a baby carrier? All I can think is, what a woman that guy is! Or maybe I should say, what a women use to be. 

Why have women so easily ceded and men so placidly accepted such a role as carrying the baby like a wet nurse? Before children we can all make pronouncements about how men and women are the same in all things yadda yadda yadda. But once your in that delivery room the cold hard facts of your uselessness as a male hits you. It lasts about 8 months, through breast feeding, crying, small diapers and spit up. And then it happens. One day you have the little nipper on the ground and are rolling a golf ball back and forth and he or she picks it up, beans you in the head and laughs. Now its daddy time. Dads are good for teaching kids to ride bikes and drive a car. Dads are good at killing bugs and going to Scout camp. Dads are good in emergencies and good at discipline. Moms are good at providing security, a safe place where all owies are cared for and every story is listened to. In a million more ways dads and moms are good at doing different (and some same) things.

So dads and moms are, generally different. But its seems in modern society we do everything we can to deny moms being moms and dads being dads. Moms take off six weeks after the birth of their child and then go back to work. Six week. They should be taking off six years but I'd take six months. Moms today come in late to their child's school concert, wearing their power suit and stand in the back with their nose in their device (my all purpose term for the evil that is the iPhone, Android, Blackberry, et al.). Moms today have nannies go on field trips and they have mannies take them to the park. Meanwhile dads today play video games, wear baseball caps and sports jerseys, are in a dodgeball league, are barely distinguishable from a teenage boy and become part of that game my wife likes to play "Dude or Dad?" How you play is go to SA sometime and see a child with one of these pseudo-adult males and ask yourself; Is that the cool uncle, drop-out older brother or an actual dad? And of course dads today wear their child.

I'm sure it me. I am out of touch and making hysterical generalizations. I knew the terra I stood on was not firma 25 years ago when a friend told me he had to go pick out china and crystal patterns with his fiancee. I stared at him. His lips were moving but I did not understand. I went on to find that many of my male friend's made the trip to Dayton's (Macy's for the young folk) to look through books with colors of towels for the second bath. Well the jokes on them. The modern corporate-fied woman/employer of nannies does not go in for crystal or china. Instead they hope for a baby sling to put on their husband-dudes and ride off into the sunset to their spinning class.

Monday, June 2, 2014

“Danger, Will Robinson!”

Part of the un-joy of living in the City is the following: speeding through the neighborhood last night a car slowed down and smashed the back window out of our Suburban. It may have been with a gun or a bat or a golf club. 

Who knows?

We got the license plate number and call the police who were less than enthusiastic about pursuing the perps. This is the second time in a month I have had contact with the City's finest and the second time their response has been to talk me out of pursuing any action. 

Odd that is.

The first incident involved a gentlemen who swerved twice in front of my minivan on St. Clair almost hitting us, and jump out of his car and punched my window (what is it with windows?) The officer who arrived on the scene, when he looked up from his iPhone, said there was really nothing he could do. I said to him, go talk to the puncher, scare him a little and maybe do a warrant check. Its called community policing.

I love cops. I use to represent the Union that represented them, I was a prosecutor and have worked with police officers for over 20 years. I have raised my children to respect police officers. What I don't understand is why there now appears to be an ethos in the City police force to not pursue "minor" violent acts. Why not look up the licence plate of the perps who smashed my window, go to the house and using a little creative questioning find out who was in the car that night. Search the car. Do a warrant check.

Community policing means enforcing the nuisance crimes to make the quality of life better for everyone in the City. How about enforcing the low level violent crimes?