All I wanted was a Pepsi!  

Posted by Jonathan E Johns

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Sometimes I feel like a 13 year old. Not when I laugh at a fart joke, or giggle at silliness, or even when I get uncomfortable around a beautiful woman.

But like this morning, when I was reading the Sunday Paper, and although I had read all the news earlier in the week, I got to read the newspapers' analysis of the news. This is what I believe the value of print journalism is versus the Televised News Readers most Americans rely on. Sure the TV can spit out LIVE video of ongoing events taking place RIGHT NOW. But as soon as a water skiing squirrel video comes around, we're moving on, and there is no follow up. Print journalism can take a story and relate it to what's happening and continue the story to a logical conclusion, and as surprising as it sounds, there is incredibly important and valuable information out there that does not have a quick soundbite, or intriguing picture to accompany it.

So, I was reading the paper, and feeling like a child.

You see, I read some stories, and some commentaries, and editorials about these stories that made me think about how I felt about the news. This is a very god thing, because my knee jerk reaction to so many things is based upon years of acclimation to one or the other point of view. After an entire life of a two-party system, it seems that everything is politicized, and everything is one way or another. There is no gray area, there is no opportunity to feel two ways about the same subject, and if you aren't with us, you are against us. But like most Human Beings on this planet, I don't agree with every plank of either platform. I live in the gray area that the parties claim do not exist.

So I was reading the paper, and feeling like a confused tween.

There was one particular article about a Bollywood Actor, who is globally famous, who was held and questioned at an airport. He is the equivalent of say, Bruce Willis, or Clint Eastwood, but in India's movie making community, which happens to also be popular almost all over the world but here in America. Another story was about singer Bob Dylan being stopped by two local policemen in a small town where he was to perform. The two policemen were in their 20's, and had not ever heard of Dylan. In yet another story, there was further reflection on the recent kerfuffle involving an esteemed professor being pulled over simply because he was black. All these stories have to do with the fact that someone or another was not recognized, and 'news' ensued. Any one of us can fall on either side of this 'debate', whether we think the officials should have recognized the person for who they were, and the fact that they didn't is simply a refection of the decay of western civilization, or, that the unrecognized persons should realize what it is like to by like us normal simple folk, and get off their high horse. Thinking hard about these two polar opposite ends of the debate, it is hard to fit my feelings into one or the other categories. I simply feel different about each and every individual story. What I am most uncomfortable about is the way these stories and editorials are written. Whether flippant, or over-dramatic, I do not find these stories compelling enough to make me feel one way or another.

So I continued reading the paper, and felt more and more like a disinterested teen.

Much was written in the paper about the current Health Care 'debate', with one side on the offense, or better yet, behaving offensively, and the other side on the defense. One well written phrase I caught was, “Since they cannot win the debate, they pick a fight they can win...” This makes me even less enthusiastic about the whole debate, and reminds me of the election last year. For the first time in a long time, I felt like my opinion and/or vote did not count simply because I was left out of the targeting scope of either party. Both parties dedicated much time and money and energy towards winning the votes of the undecided voters, and since I was pretty well in favor of the “Anybody but...” candidate, none of my 'issues' were addressed. And this current debate is simply absurd and silly in the way it is being conducted, and in the end my cynicism leads me to believe that nothing will change either way.

So I was reading the paper, and feeling like an angst-ridden youth.

At the end of the paper are the adverts for the big chain stores. Electronics, discounts, coupons, two day only sales, no-interest for 18 months, etc etc. I flipped through these colorful well-produced advertisements, and felt a longing for things in the pictures. I felt like a manipulated consumer. I felt a deep need in my soul for small electronic devices, for name brand breakfast cereals. I felt an urgency in my gut to hurry and get to the store today, before the sale would end, and I would miss out on the 10% sale price. I felt childish when I then turned to the classified ads. Almost instantly, the glamor of the colorful ads had worn off, and I was facing the cold reality of the 11% unemployment rate, and the severe lack of employment ads in the Sunday paper. My age caught up with me, the wisdom of my lifelong experiences reminded me that the sale prices would probably be higher than what I could pay in just a couple of weeks. I recalled that I had a drawer full of unused small electronics, I remembered that I actually like the generic breakfast cereals better than the name branded ones, and that when I worked in a food plant, we put the exact same product in different packaging. (When I worked at a cheese plant, on the shred line, for an hour we filled Kraft bags with the same shredded cheese that later in the day filled the Always Save bags.) I felt like the curtain had been pulled back, and I saw the Wizard of Oz for what he was. A simple, manipulative man.

So I read the paper, and felt like a disillusioned youngster.

I finished the paper, and sipped my perfect temperature coffee, and looked up at the clear blue sky, and felt the warmth of the morning sun on my face, and instantly felt better. The newspaper had connected me with events from around the world, and opinions of many smart people. I felt informed, and somewhat educated. I felt something like a teenager might feel after getting an “A” on a test. But the feeling about the information remained unchanged. I felt discouraged, confused, and dis-interested. I wanted the benefits of being a child, and playing with toys, and watching cartoons, and spending my day being distracted, but with the freedom of a grown up to do whatever I want, whenever I want, and to not have consequences, and not have to ask for permission. I felt like I wanted the warmth of the home hearth, without the cold feeling of a lack of freedom. I discovered that this is not just something a tween-ager feels, but something many of us feel. We want the paycheck, without the job. We want the great parts of living in America, without the goofy politics. We want to be free, but we want others to follow the laws which keep us safe.

I figured out that America is chock full of teenagers, and the behavior of some reflects that. It gave new perspective to the way the world might view us. The rest of the world, which is either mature, or ancient, looking upon us as a teenage country. Waiting for us to learn that independence is not everything we naively believe it to be, and hoping that we learn it fast, before we crash the family station wagon into the neighbors living room.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 18, 2009 at 12:59 PM . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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