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Posts Tagged ‘boy scouts’

It’s a totally different city, two totally different dudes, and yet it appears that these conversations keep popping up everywhere as if part of the collective unconsciousness.  I was downtown in Vermont’s capitol city getting some quarters and Nutella (can’t properly do laundry in a dorm without both) and as I was passing I caught just this snippet from a couple of local Joe’s.

Joe Rock: Am I an ass to who?

Joe Paper: That’s not what I said.  I said Are you an ass-man, not Are you an ass, man.

Joe Rock: Oh!

Isn’t it a wonderful thing what punctuation and intonation can do with the English language?

Once again, twice in less than a week, twenty-something guys engaged publicly in conversation over the most sublime of topics.  And, again, without any sense of shame or embarrassment that others can hear them, or that perhaps they might find themselves judged accordingly.

Okay, listen, I’m a guy.  I’m not saying I didn’t participate in my share of conversations like this.  In fact, I recall having this very same tits-or-ass conversation with some friends of mine… when we were 12 years old and hanging out at Boy Scout camp safely several hundred miles away from anyone who could hear us.  Twelve would be an appropriate age for hormonally-challenged males to be considering the deeper issues of life.  Twelve would make sense of mermaids and the first blush of body fascination.  But to still be having these conversations in your twenties strikes me a type of social retardation, or perhaps a prolonged state of immaturity. And pathetic.

Can I blame this on vapid entertainment, on television shows that sexualize the world and make it okay at the same time to remain in a state of suspended maturity?

Joe Rock, Joe Paper: you’re both asses. And hardly men.

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Growing up in Southern California I always knew Halloween was coming because the sky would turn orange.  The Santa Ana winds would begin blowing in late September and by early October there would be at least one wildfire in the hills surrounding the greater LA basin.  Smoke would drift with the winds, filtering the sunlight and giving off a crisp, woody scent to the filtered haze.

That’s what we had for a fall season.  No turning leaves, just a turning sky.

When I was in sixth grade there was a fire in the Malibu/Topanga area much like the one that is currently burning.  I remember how alien the news accounts were at the time, mentioning an area I had visited as a boy scout — Camp Slauson located in Lower Topanga Canyon — and wondering if I would recognize it from the news helicopters, imagining I could make out it’s trails and campsites even if on fire.

Now on the other side of the country, watching the hills of Southern California burn again on television, I feel a displacement that is exactly the same as the one I felt almost thirty years ago.  Only now the woody scent comes from fireplaces, and the only orange in the sky comes from the color of leaves against the blue. And I’m still trying to pick out identifiable landmarks as though I’d know what they looked like on fire.

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