Saturday, January 01, 2005

Ticked Talk

Twice in today’s Toronto Star my brand new poncho was dissed.
On two separate lists of things that two separate listmakers have demanded disappear in 2005 (along with Ugg boots, Paris Hilton and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy) was the poncho.
Osama Bin Laden – who actually has disappeared – and peace in the Middle East were nowhere to be found on the lists, but my poncho was right up there in the top 5 on both… the poncho I’d just purchased in a ‘Boxing Week Blow Out (no returns on sale merchandise) Sale’. My timing (as ever) needs work.
But this year – 2005 – will be different; I’m going to work on the timing thing until I’ve got it down to the second and all those missed planes, trains and opportunities will be a thing of the past. I suspect it’ll be something like snowshoeing or windsurfing – a knack thing – and once I’ve got it down, all will follow beautifully; work and relationships dovetailing into each other as smoothly and precisely as a fastener slides up a zipper. Work will present itself, relationships will flourish, and guilt, anxiety and that horrible pressing sense that I’ve just (just) missed the boat will be but a faint memory in my brand new, polished and tweaked life of joyful serendipity and happy fate.
Or not.
Do you ever feel you were born into the wrong time? That you would have fared better in another century or decade? That with your body type and sensibility you would have wiped the floor with your fellow citizens during the reign of Charlemagne, or perhaps the 1940’s, when the padded shoulder and ankle strap shoe would show off your particular assets to their best advantage?
I do.
I think my body would have looked best in Elizabethan-type garb and my sense of humour would have flourished in the 1920’s when women experienced a sudden surge of relevance and bobbed hair was all the rage. I think my career would have done better in the 1930’s and 40’s when men were off at war and sexist and genderist lines were blurred to near invisibility. I would have liked to have lived in Jane Austen’s time for the sparkling dinner party conversation and ancient Egypt for the sophistication of thought and the hot, dry climate. The 1400’s would have suited when chivalry actually meant something (and you could talk to married men without being branded a complete and utter hussy) and centuries old Mexico and China would have been fascinating for the science and medicine and astronomy.
I’m not trying to suggest I’m one of those old souls you’re always hearing about – infants with Churchillian phizes or tweens with sophisticated ideas ahead of their time – just the sort of person who gloms onto platform shoes or kitten heels or ponchos just as their fashion best-before staledates. But in hindsight? In hindsight I’m a trendspotter as up to the minute as Faith Popcorn… though to be candid, the last time I heard of Faith Popcorn I was wearing spandex pants and glitter eye shadow… so using her as an example is about as timely as the disco garb I chose to wear sometime around the Punk era.
You see the problem.
But I’m not alone. I believe we’re all experiencing some sort of crazy time warp, what with 1950’s values making the sort of comeback The Bay City Rollers would kill for, and racial division getting the kind of attention it received before television was presented ‘In Living Colour’. I have the strange feeling I AM actually living in the past – a past where Joe McCarthy, Herbert Hoover and the Cold War were as current (not to mention hated and feared) as Britney Spears and Avril Lavine.
Over in the Ukraine, some sort of retro Get Smart/Pink Panther super secret agency is operating; poisoning the opposition leader’s cream soup and falsifying voting records with all the subtlety and sophisticated espionagery of vintage Spy Vs Spy. (Watch for stories detailing the wide use of poison tipped umbrellas, cigarette lighter cameras and shoe phones when the elections in Iraq get underway.)
I mean, consider the serious media meltdown that occurred when Janet Jackson’s right boob emerged to claim all the publicity it had clearly been denied by staying (barely) put in its owner’s brassiere for so many wasted years. The hue and cry that emerged should have shamed a society that in a more liberated era (say, five years ago) might have named it Time Magazine’s Newsmaker of the Year instead of being the source of the sorts of fines, lawsuits and vast array of explanations and apologies not heard since Bill Clinton snapped Monica Lewinsky’s garter belt.
And religion! Religion is regressing like a middle aged man in a little red Corvette. Compassionate Conservatism has taken a right turn into God-fearing fascism, putting the mental into ‘fundamental’ as never before.
Tick them off on a list: increasingly limited freedoms, hyper-profiling and the US government nosing its way into the nation’s bedrooms like a hound on the scent – this is the Back to the Future scenario that even Orwell never imagined. Someone, somehow, some way has got to stop the reversal and put us back on course before like all those other folks who refused to learn from history, we’ll be forced to repeat it again and again – paying the price for yesterday’s mistakes with today’s inflated currency.
I’m taking a stand.
I’m keeping the poncho.

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