When I was a kid things were different. I wore knickers. Today, kids wear low riders that begin where my knickers left off. I’ve kept the knickers in hopes that the style will come back. I have to be patient because clothing trends are fickle. A couple of years ago, I tried pushing the knickers craze, but only managed to get the grandkids to shout, “Look mom, Pop-Pop is growing again.” It was mortifying because the kids didn’t ask for my knickers hand me downs. I’ve put the knickers back in the closet, where they hang in shame next to the big boy pants.
It’s important to fit in. No one knew this better than my favorite uncle, who was a tailor, tinker, soldier, and spy. Uncle Inar Seam was a renaissance man, with a modern twist. Affectionately known as Inseam, my uncle had many trades because he couldn’t keep a job. He never blamed the economy, the government or his unlucky stars for his monetary challenges. Instead, he blamed ‘Dear Abby’ who he said represented society by telling people what to do and what not to do. The famous columnist, who’s reel name or movie moniker was Abby Normal, built a career telling readers what was normal when she was clearly abnormal by my uncle’s standards. “That woman will be the death of me,” Inseam exclaimed. “If everybody puts one leg on at a time, she’s bungee jumping into hers,” his tirade went on. “I wish that I spent more attention to tying knots in Boy Scouts because I’d fix her bungee cord once and for all,” screamed Inseam to anybody who would listen. Mental health professionals call my uncle’s condition “projection.” It’s a condition where the patient blames his problems on others, instead of taking responsibility for his troubles. But in Uncle Inseam’s case, he swore on the lives of uncountable angels on a pincushion, that Abby dearest didn’t know the first thing about a proper societal inseam.
Several weekends ago, there was the Healthy Girl Festival whose creators believe that education about obstacles faced by girls all over the world will plant seeds of empathy and perspective that will blossom into girl powered change. The event highlights the importance of education to break the cycle of poverty. “A girl with an extra year of education can earn 20% more as an adult, “ according to the World Bank.
I was unable to attend the Healthy Girl Festival because it conflicted with the Keep Me Breathing Festival for old people held in nearby Laguna Woods. However, I empathize with the Healthy Girl creators that times are changing and girls must be empowered by education in order to make more money like Dear Abby did in her time, in spite of Uncle Inseam’s objections that women are learning too quickly how to put pants on two legs at a time. I loved Uncle Inseam dearly, but he was shortsighted to believe that all people want to be cuffed. So, to make reparations for my misguided relative, I’m supporting my granddaughter’s’ higher education for a five-year program. I figure that if each year of education gets 20% more earning power, then five years worth will pay 100% for my cushy retirement, provided courtesy of my empowered granddaughter, who loves me dearest.
Mark is a transplant to Laguna from Chicago. He occasionally writes the guest column “Pet Peeves.” His recently deceased Border Collie, Pokey, is his muse and ghostwriter.