Friday, March 20, 2009

Where did decorum go?

For my 2 faithful readers, you must by now be aware that some things really get to me. Was I born WAY after my time? Am I just too serious and uptight? All things for debate, but I have to bring something up that really gets to me: a lack of appreciation for manners and education, behaving well, and being respectful toward others, and displaying some degree of sophistication and intelligence.

I realize I could be taken to task for such a topic, but please let me assure you, this has nothing to do with being a snob, having more financial means than others, or a closet full of Cole Haan shoes and a drawer full of Prada socks.

What happened to good manners? What happened to respect? What happened to wanting to LEARN?

A few weeks ago, I dined at Morton's with my partner and 2 kids. At the table next to us was a group of peple that were loud, rude and one guy was so disrespectfully dressed for a restaurant where the maitre'd wears a tuxedo that I was close to saying something to them.

I'm sorry, but this is NOT appropriate attire for a 5-star restaurant:

We also took the kids downtown to a sophisticated restaurant for same partner's birthday. In doing so, I expect the kids to not only turn their manners up to "high" but I also expect them to dress a certain way. It's respectful. It says that you have some self-discipline and pride. I want them to UNDERSTAND that. Good taste is never out of style, but God-willing, wearing your pants with the crotch at your knees will be some day!

Our society has become lazy. Complacent. Did you know that China will soon become the #1 English speaking nation in the world? Why? Because they are smarter, more energized, more focused on the value of education.

And what are we becoming?

This is what we are becoming:

We devalue education in this country. We are producing generations of short-sighted, self-indulgent children, who feel entitled to everything without doing anything.

President Obama, just last week had this to say:

"We have let our grades slip, our schools crumble, our teacher quality fall short, and other nations outpace us ... In 8th grade math, we've fallen to 9th place. Singapore's middle-schoolers outperform ours three to one. Just a third of our thirteen and fourteen-year olds can read as well as they should. And year after year, a stubborn gap persists between how well white students are doing compared to their African American and Latino classmates."
He added: "It is time to give all Americans a complete and competitive education from the cradle up through a career."

Kudos, Mr. President!

America is not a top-performing country any longer. We are not the standard.

We are a laughing stock in many ways, and it is deplorable.

You are what you wear. And it does not take name brands and lots of money to do it. It takes self-respect.

Are these guys off to a job interview? Doubtful.

What does the first glance impression say about these two? Fair or not, it is what it is.

Take some pride, people. It matters.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

School News...

I was perusing the photocopied newsletter for the elementary school of my partner's children. There was the typical inane material there for the benefit of a select few, self-indulgent crap about the lunch lady and more money-sucking announcements about a "spring picture day". What is all this about? When I was in elementary school, there was ONE picture day. You remember it. Some obscure, weird room in the school where you otherwise never went was converted into some innocuous studio, complete with squeaky, unbalanced metal stool and unrealistic sky or leaf backdrop. There was also the creepy photographer - some weird guy in brown double knit polyester pants and worn-out unpolished shoes. He always looked at you kinda funny, and now that I think about it, probably decorated the room in the apartment he shared with his mom with pictures he took of little boys.

There was the minimal photo preparation. A teacher might lick her hand and try to get that runaway hair to stay in place. Or they might get a community hair brush and unnaturally style your hair to make it look like someone put a salad bowl on your head, like a helmet, and cut around it. Regardless, it was rarely flattering, there were no retakes and your parents bought the crappy package, because what message would it send to you if they didn't? But now, 21st century elementary school children get 2 school pictures a year, and we the parents get roped into spending more money on shit that gets thrown in the cupboard.

So, once I got over this tirade (it was a night, let me tell you!), I flipped to the back of the newsletter, and there it was. As I am always looking for a sign that gay rights might reach a new pinnacle of acceptance, I was not expecting a public elementary school to be so embracing , but it could not be denied. The newsletter section was entitled "Super Singers" and listed there were the names of 5 boys and 3 girls. Now, I believe that everyone who is gay should be afforded the right and privilege to make that coming out announcement at a time that suits their own personal journey, especially when they are in grade school. It can be a wildy confusing time. At the tender age of 8 through 11, these children are just coming to terms with issues like tying their shoes and trying to look cool, even though they secretly still have a favorite blanket, or sleep with the light on.

And yet, the school newsletter has a regular section that might as well be titled "Future Homosexuals of America". You remember the kid from that grade, the boy who relished in choir practice, begged for the solo and always offered to help out the middle age, single male choir teacher. I know I do. This was the kid who was sexually confused, tried to fit in with the other boys, playing football and driving the souped up Camaro Iroc back in 1985. But then, on the first day of our senior year, he showed up at school completely transformed, wearing white linen balloon pants and a turquoise blazer with the sleeves rolled up, a la Don Johnson on Miami Vice. Instead of dating the prom queen, he now WAS the prom queen. And it can all be traced back to the 4th grade choir. "Super Singer". Why don't you just tattoo "FAG" on the poor kid's forehead? Its an equivalent brandishing for a boy. And shouldn't we just get to the point? "We're here, we're queer... The Super Singers"!