My wife announces that she is going to bed and I tell her goodnight.
“You guys should get to bed too,” I say to my sons who are lounging across from me on the couch.
“You’re back to school on Tuesday.”
The teacher’s union voted to end their strike over the weekend. The boys give me the stink-eye like they always do when I rub it in that they’re returning. It’s been three weeks. I’m sick of looking at them. They are getting very lazy. I took them to the library on my day off and could barely entice either of them into touching a book. I had to pick the titles out for them and I doubt either of them have cracked one open since. You can lead a horse to water, as they say. I read a great deal when I was young. It was a magic portal into another world. Reading came as easily to me as dreaming. Then again, I wasn’t raised with an iPad in the house.
“All right, you can watch a little Chris Rock.”
The Oscars were playing on the TV. I really hadn’t been paying much attention because I was scrolling on my phone. According to one news article, more Americans under 65 died of alcohol-related deaths than of Covid in 2020. What a mindfuck the last two years have been. My wife, who just had cancer, can’t schedule an appointment with her primary care physician until September. The clinic she used to visit across from the Riverview Theater is vacant. Our moribund society seems collectively brain damaged, or at least our politicians. Unable to make sense of it all, I toss my phone aside.
“You know, your mother and I saw Chris Rock in concert a few years ago. It was a fun date.”
My oldest son smiles at me and we all stare at the TV together.
“Jada, I love ya. GI Jane 2. Can’t wait to see it.”
The joke seems a bit mean and only slightly funny. The TV goes mute and Will Smith steps on stage. I’m confused by what happens next.
“What the hell? Did he hit him?”
“I think he did,” Miles says excitedly.
Will Smith is mouthing F-bombs and now I’m convinced the whole interaction is real and not a planned skit.
“You have to respect women,” I tell my two sons. “You don’t insult someone’s mother or their wife. He shouldn’t have hit him though.” They seem to understand. I can’t believe Will Smith isn’t being escorted out of the building by security. “We’ll I’m glad you guys witnessed meme history. Now go to bed and make sure you brush your teeth!”
How did we become a culture where the standard for what you do has become so low, and the standard for what you say has become so high?