Monday, July 31, 2006

Absorbing Some Musical Culture

We spent the weekend in Wooster, Ohio. We drove there to do something we have been wanting to do for years, namely to see a production of Sigmund Romberg's 'The New Moon' by the Ohio Light Opera company at the College of Wooster. It was worth the 15 or so hours we spent on the road travelling there and back, including the usual breaks for food and such. At least, my wife and I thought so. I'm not so sure about my son.

I had asked my son to be sure to pack 'good clothes' to wear to the production, and after we had all changed in our hotel room to leave for the theatre, I was surprised to see him wearing shorts. "I thought I asked you to bring good clothes," I said to him. "These are good clothes," he responded, "they're good summer clothes. You didn't tell me to bring long pants. They would be winter clothes."

Huh? We may have the making of a lawyer in my son. I'm not sure I would like that.

So, off we went to the theatre, with him wearing a nice shirt and shorts. In fairness, there were several other kids there, and even one adult, wearing similar attire. However, I just can't get used to this very casual approach to going out for a very special evening. Whatever happened to getting dressed up for such occasions?

You know what really gets me? Baseball caps. We have dined many times in restaurants, plain or fancy, with many male diners, young and old, wearing their very best John Deere baseball caps. What's up with that? Perhaps I wouldn't mind as much if they at least took the caps off when they sat down to eat. Nope, that never happens. My brother and I were trained by my mother to remove any headgear at the dinner table. Or else!

Enough griping. The world is a much different place than it once was, and many things have improved over the years. I don't consider the overly casual dress style to be one of those improvements, though.

My wife has always joked about trying to raise our son as a 'Renaissance Man.' She wants to expose him to culture in the way of music and theatre, wants him to have good manners, to be able to dance a passable waltz , and have him carry on a conversation without resorting to language that, if printed anywhere, would demand liberal application of 'expletive deleted' edits. How does he fare, so far, as a Renaissance Man? Mostly, he does have good manners. He does dance passably well, unlike his father. He speaks well. We're not so sure, however, how much of the culture we have tried to expose him to has been appreciated by him. Maybe not much. Still, perhaps decades from now, he will look back and remember these occasions fondly. I hope so.

I wonder sometimes about enjoying life and pursuing admittedly frivolous pastimes and entertainment, while people elsewhere are being blown to bits. Is that fair?

No, it's not fair. The universe isn't fair. Things that happen to some people aren't fair. Disease isn't fair. War isn't fair. So, should we all sit around and mope, and be guilt-ridden about things we can't control?

No. What is happening in Israel and Lebanon right now is not my fault. It's not your fault. There are misguided and angry people in our world who thrive on murder and mayhem. They have always existed and likely always will exist. Things will be what they are meant to be, whether we cry and gnash our teeth, or whether instead we enjoy what life has to offer.

Still, we should not turn a blind eye to the misery in our world. We have a responsibility to encourage fairness and responsibility. We have an obligation to fight back when we are pushed. We live in a complex world and we must understand it as best we can. Perhaps, someday, when everyone thinks first and acts later, our world may be a better place.

In the meantime, crank up the music.


  1. You recently have been on a search for meaning in your life. Although we can't guarantee outcomes, at least we should keep trying. Somewhere it was quoted "The purpose in life is to enhance our understanding and thus the search becomes more important than the finding."
    A friend `in a state of shock was told his company no longer needed his talents and they were "letting" him go. This was after 29 years of dedicated computer programing experience with a major financial company. He would need another year and a half to qualify for a pension, but he was not given this option. He was earning a salary of $80,000 annually, a large amount he hopes to replace.
    Back to my original premise. He is now in the search again. He has no choice. He never realized how insecure his life had become, because he had given up his survival skills. You have succeeded because where you are at now, will never be enough for you because you are creative and know that next big chance may be just outside your vision. Best of luck old friend.

  2. I never knew about the Wooster music program, and I went to college in Ohio (at Wittenberg which I'm pretty sure is in their conference). What a fun thing to do on a weekend! What a long drive to make!

    You've gotta love sons and their idea of dressing up. Mine sees nothing wrong with a suit and tennis shoes. I asked him to really, really clean his room this summer, and he puts his Italian leather sandals in the give away pile. Sigh.

    Sometimes it is embarrassing to be an American in terms of dress. One time, I was having lunch in the Jules Verne, on top of the Eiffel Tower, and there was a family with the father in a BUDWEISER CAP. I about died. Would you not think about your attire in Paris? Not to be superficial, but for goodness sakes. You know you're a redneck when your Halloween pumpkin has more teeth than your wife.

    Anyway, turn up the music is right. In the meantime, here's to raising Renaissance Men!

  3. What's the expression, Bill: "Life is what happens when you are busy looking the other way," or something like that? I prefer to observe and analyze, even if my analysis, sometimes I'm sure, only makes sense to me. Your buddy's story is not uncommon. It always makes sense to have a plan 'B.' I wish him luck.

    Bellezza: Wooster is a pretty place and well worth a visit. I nearly fell off my chair laughing at reading your redneck joke.

  4. Unfortunatly Bellezza, the American travelling abroad is most distinguishable by his redneck attire and hilltrash drawl. And we won't even go into "African American" street-bling!
    T-shirts and blue jeans, even rawhide gloves and ball caps are fine for shoveling bovine excrement on the "home 40", but I've yet to see a foreign visitor to the States sporting same.

  5. Oee has begun to dress herself. I have to bite my tongue. She pulls out her t-shirt and skirt of the day, matching or clashing and says as she lays it on the bed, "this will look beautiful." Somedays, it's hideous. But, I've decided to take a snapshot on each of those days, so that we can laugh at them later.

    It sounds like you are doing wonderfully with your son. In all manners.

    I agree with the removal of hats, though I don't know why, except that it was instilled in me as well. I was just having a conversation with a central redneck albertan the other day about children and their clothes. He was lamenting about the fact that muslim girls wear their headdresses to school and how they shouldn't and how they should conform.

    "And look likes sluts like the rest of our girls," I said emphatically in agreement with his sentiment. He walked away from me.

    Over time I've come to accept self-expression as long as it isn't harmful. And, as long as the person expressing themselves understands that there are inherent consequences and reactions to certain attitudes and attire.

    Your son, whether he wears shorts or long pants in the right setting will learn that he can self-express all he wants, because he is old enough, but that to generate certain and specific attitudes in certain and specific places there is a code.. of behavior, language and dress.

    Whether he wants to be a part of those certain and specific places and events is up to him and want he wants for himself in his life and want he values. He will figure it out.

    And, whether he says so or not, he's a boy and boys emulate their fathers and marry women like their mothers. I'd bet he'll turn out fantastic.

    I saw a boy the other day that had on a t-shirt that read "Jesus is a cunt". I think the short pants isn't too bad. ;)

  6. ps.. Bellezza.. suit and tennis shoes.. made for one famous and rich David Letterman. ;)