Monday, April 07, 2008

What we really need are more songs in the world with a "Yodel Outro."

Sometimes I worry about the future of the human race. That's because I am optimist who tries to see the best in people.

True, I don't particularly like other people and don't want to spend much time around anyone and get astoundingly frustrated when I'm driving along and someone in front of me has the temerity to go the speed limit, when I want to go 4 or 5 over the speed limit. But none of that prevents me from being an optimist and thinking that people are basically decent, albeit they are basically decent people who are usually in my way and slowing me down or otherwise bothering me somehow by making a special trip up to my house to use my computer so they can enter information in for their cruise so that all their activities are preplanned, thereby saving themselves a whole 30 minutes on the cruise, while simultaneously using up my entire Saturday afternoon.

All right, that latter example is not all people; it's just my dad. But he's a person. And because he's a person, I worry about his future the same as I do the future of all people because I'm an optimist who believes the best about people.

That optimism causes me to butt heads with The Boy a lot. The Boy claims he, too, is an optimist. The Boy's optimism was recently expressed to me like this: I was discussing a short story I'd written and my hopes that it would be published and The Boy said "Nobody's ever going to publish that." When I pointed out that he was being pessimistic, he said he was just being "realistic."

The Boy also told me then that he is an upbeat person, which he summed up in this exchange:

The Boy: I am too an upbeat person. Do you believe that people are basically good?

Me: Yes. Yes, I do.

The Boy: I don't. I think that people are all inherently evil.

Let's hope he never takes off those rose-colored glasses.

Despite my optimism, though, I worry about the future of the human race not just because someday The Boy will be in charge of at least a portion of it in some way or form, but because of the examples I see around me that we, as a species, are not really meant to be in charge of ourselves.

If you want proof of that, check out the warnings we need on the things we do. I'm not talking about all those dumb warnings that tell you not to put your toaster in the bathtub. I'm sure those are absolutely necessary. Nor am I talking about the warnings that came on the crib tents Sweetie and I purchased not that long ago.

"Crib Tents," in case you're wondering, are exactly what they sound like: a mosquito-netting type of structure that goes over the top of the crib for your Babies! to keep pets out, or, in our case, Babies! in. They look like this:

We had to get crib tents as the second safety feature on Mr Bunches and Mr F's cribs; the first safety feature was that they're bolted to the wall. (The cribs are bolted to the wall, not the Babies!.) Both safety features are necessary because Mr Bunches and Mr F have an addiction to jumping, which they do all the time. Mr Bunches greets me after work by jumping in place. Mr F jumps in his high chair. They jump on the couch, the chairs, the kitchen table, and especially their cribs, where they turned jumping into a kind of extreme sport for Babies! by bouncing so high they almost rattled the crib apart and, in Mr Bunches' case, bouncing right out of the crib and onto the floor in front of a shocked Sweetie.

We didn't know what to do at first. That is, we knew what to do first, which was pick up Mr Bunches, but then we didn't know what to do next, so I turned to the only source anyone ever needs in an emergency: Google. We googled a series of questions designed to (a) get us something to help keep the Babies! safe and (b) alert the child welfare authorities that something was seriously amiss at our house. Searches like my baby jumps out of his crib and how can I keep my baby from getting out of his crib and what will keep my baby in his crib will eventually end up in some government office and result in a social worker raid on our little house. Doing those searches, we eventually found crib tents, which we ordered and got shipped there as quickly as possible because our interim solution was -- and I am 100% serious -- using old belts to strap pillows and couch cushions to the bars of the crib, and then placing cushions on the floor in case they got over the fluffy barriers we'd set up.

Keep in mind, men, that when your wife tells you to get rid of old belts or shirts or shorts that don't fit, you could argue that you never know when you will need them as an emergency safety measure and if she gives you the fish-eye, ask her: Which is more important, throwing out my raggedy Kennebunkport sweatshirt that I bought in 1990, or keeping our children alive? That'll put things in proper perspective.

That's an argument, I've found, that works in literally every situation. Which is more important, Sweetie, that I stop watching this episode of Battlestar, or keeping our children alive?

The crib tents, when they came, had warnings on them -- as you'd expect, given how extremely dangerous all children's furniture is-- but the warnings took me back a little. The labels warned that "Crib Tents are not a substitute for parental supervision."

Who needs that warning? Is there someone out there who has managed to procreate but who is also still capable of thinking well, now that there's absolutely no way my baby can get out of her crib, I can go away for the weekend?

That, too, is not the kind of warning I'm talking about, though. The kind of warning I'm talking about is the kind of warning that lets you know that it's maybe 2 or 3 years until the human race is done and the squirrels take over. (People think it'll be cockroaches, or maybe dolphins, but who took over when the dinosaurs died out? Not the bugs. Small mammals took over. And the bugs blew it back even though they had a whole lot better chance to rule the world then, because bugs when the dinosaurs lived were like 4 feet long. Nowadays, they're maybe an inch or two in most cases. They've got no chance. So I'm betting on the squirrels.)

Anyway, the kind of warning I'm talking about is the kind of warning I saw on this commercial:

That commercial, as you saw, involved a guy walking through New York City, but it was a New York City that was bubble wrapped for his safety and enjoyment, leading him (naturally) to think Well, I'd better jump off the Empire State Building.

Note: I do not know if it was actually the Empire State Building. I don't have time to keep track of which buildings in New York City are the Empire State Building and which are not. Let's just agree that if there's a building in New York City and that building appears on TV or in a movie, then that building is the Empire State Building. You know, like how every building in England is Buckingham Palace, every building in Paris is the Eiffel Tower, and how there are no other buildings or cities or countries beyond New York, England, and Paris.

Note, two: I know that, technically speaking, Paris is not a "country." It's a smell.

Note, three: The reason I'm too busy to know what buildings in New York City are or are not the Empire State Building is that 98% of my time is spent on the Internet looking up things I remember from my childhood, like the song "Una Paloma Blanca."

What makes me worry about humanity from that commercial is that there's a warning, when they show it on TV, and that warning is "Do Not Attempt." It flashes just before the guy jumps off the Empire State Building/Buckingham Palace/Eiffel Tower.

Now, in what world is that warning necessary? In what world does someone even have the ability to bubble wrap New York City, which I know is a pretty big city because Sweetie and I went there on our honeymoon and we walked around a lot and saw a big chunk of the city -- concentrating on those parts that were not scary and especially concentrating on those parts that sold "I [Heart] NY" shirts-- and in what world can that person bubble wrap the city and then make it up to the top of the Eiffel Tower to jump off?

And, also, while bubble wrap is addictive and we all love it, blah blah blah, is there anyone out there that thinks that bubble wrap would break their fall from the top of a building? And if so, wouldn't the human race technically have a better chance of beating the squirrels if we let that person, um, test that theory?

And, also-er, the Youtube version of that video doesn't even have the warning, and I understand that upwards of a dozen people a day look at Youtube (in between updating Sinbad's status on Wikipedia), so now I have to worry, too, that the kind of people who would try to bubble wrap the entire city and jump off Buckingham Palace won't even get the warning that it's not a good idea to try to do that.

It's hard to stay optimistic under those conditions. But I've got something that really helps. Ladies and gentlemen, the George Baker Selection!

Have you checked out The Best Of Lame/Cool Month? Why not?