“Have you heard about this new show, SHOW X? It looks terrible. Look at that stupid poster! Why is that guy wearing a hat? There’s no way this show is good!”
“Okay, the first episode wasn’t bad — the guy with the hat was actually pretty funny. But I still can’t believe they canceled SHOW W for this. SHOW W was so much better.”
“Are you watching SHOW X? I know it’s stupid but I can’t stop watching it.”
“SHOW X is the best show on television and I have always thought so. ‘GOOBER-NOOBER!!!!’”
“If you don’t like SHOW X, you’re probably just not smart enough to get it. Why don’t you stick to SHOW J? You seem like the kind of person who would love SHOW J.”
“Maybe this season has taken a dip, but bad SHOW X is still better than 90 percent of what else is on. #goobernoober”
“This show is unwatchable now. I can’t believe I’m still watching it.”
“Ugh, SHOW X, is that still on? They should have ended it three seasons ago, after CHARACTER X had the baby and that other guy stopped wearing that hat. I can’t believe I’m still watching it.”
“SHOW X will never be as good as classic SHOW X, but it’s not bad if you just think of it as like its own thing. It’s like New SHOW X.”
“New SHOW X is unwatchable now. Who writes this crap?”
“Have you heard about this new show, SHOW Y? They got rid of SHOW X for this?!?!”
My grandma tells me that she would have gone to law school, if it had been an option for her. She went to the free city college instead and became a secretary and excellent typist (if you want to see my grandma laugh until she cries, play her this video over and over).
Everyone has favorite stories, and I think about my grandma’s. The year before kindergarten, she would fold her picture books under her arm and walk to the neighborhood school with the older kids; that’s how excited she was to be a student.
Another one: My family took baby-me to Washington D.C. and when we got to the hotel, they told us that, despite the reservation, all the cribs were taken. My parents tried to work it out but there was an impasse at the check-in counter until my grandma leaned in and told the hotelier, “Well, I guess you’ll have to go out and buy her a crib.” After that, they were able to find something for me.
When I want to advocate for something I channel my dad, who once just sat in a person’s office and frowned at him until he started taking the action my dad was looking for, but I know that in fact he channel’s his mother’s frown. My grandma is in general a wonderfully pleasant person, but she knows how to argue on her family’s behalf. It’s obvious she could have been a great lawyer.
The fact that she didn’t have that opportunity didn’t ruin my grandma’s life - she is awesome anyway - but it means that people missed out on the chance to be represented by her.
A few weeks ago, a colleague came up to me and said, “So, you really don’t like sexism, huh?” He asked me if I was a classical music fan, and when I said no he still told me the story of Robert Schumann, a 19th-century composer who married another composer named Clara. He told her to stop composing once they married, but according to my colleague some of Robert’s best work included pieces of Clara’s compositions. “Just think of the beautiful music we will never get to hear,” he told me.
I care about educational equity out of compassion for the students who are not getting the experiences and chances at success they deserve, but also out of selfishness. When we don’t universally develop critical thinking in children, when we avoid conceptual understanding in favor of quick algorithms, when we stomp out creativity in favor of docility, when we rely on outdated textbooks and overstuffed classrooms and undersupported teachers, we rob ourselves. We lose a doctor who could innovate treatment, an entrepreneur who fills a hole we lack the vision to see, the poet who might give us just the shift in view we were waiting for.
I’m married to my cousin — the dream doesn’t specify which cousin — a cousin. “Council,” I tell a council, “We heard someone say, There’s a knock at the door.” We open the door; someone tells us we’re having a baby. Because my wife is my cousin, the baby looks like me. It’s a girl. We name the baby Raphe, even though it’s bad luck to name a baby after the father, because there’s no denying who this baby is. She’s me. Before I know it, my baby is talking. In full sentences, when did this happen? I feel like a terrible father, because why doesn’t Raphe know how to spell or add or even count to twenty? There’s so much to teach her, so fast. My mother-in-law, who I guess is also my aunt, thinks I’m an awful father, I know it. Raphe is now four or five and she wants to know why she doesn’t have any friends. I invite my sister over — she’s a teacher, she can explain about friends and things. Instead, over dinner, my sister gives a lecture about sex. Raphe is scared and confused. I am furious — “She’s too young for that! That’s not why we invited you over!” “She had to learn sometime,” my sister says. Raphe goes outside. I try to comfort her, but she’s mad at me. “You used my picture,” she says. “You used my picture without my permission.” I swear I don’t know what she’s talking about. “You showed my picture to people. You put it on-line.” Did I? I guess I did. I apologize. My daughter is now suspicious of me and things will never be the same between us. We go inside. My mother is lying on the floor, curled up in what looks like a supremely uncomfortable position, sleeping and crying. “What’s wrong with her?” Raphe asks. “I don’t know,” I say. My tiny daughter curls up beside her, holds her. I wake up, sweating.
That thing where you give someone a high five and you kind of miss and they make you do it again until you get it right. Because what are we, like training for something?
“Let’s try that high five again.” No. Why? Let’s not. We did the high five — transaction complete — I don’t care if it wasn’t “good enough” for you.
“Ohh, that sucked, we gotta do that over.” No, we don’t! We are adults! Why must we pin our worth as human beings on our ability to give a decent high five? Instead I’ll just give you the benefit of the doubt that you’re usually better. Can’t you just do the same for me and we can segue into the non-high-five portion of our conversation? Yo, guy, we failed at the high five. It’s okay, we can move on as people. We both have plenty of other good qualities I’m sure. One bad high five does not herald the crumbling of our relationship that you seemingly believe it does.
“But if we lead with a bad high five, then the whole thing starts off on a funky note.” OH, OKAY, I DIDN’T REALIZE YOU WERE GOING TO BE A FUCKING BABY ABOUT IT. So why don’t we now, instead of just, I don’t know, living life forward as humankind is meant to do, let’s take a moment to act like we’re caught in some bizarre time loop and repeatedly bang our hands together like a couple of monkeys stumbling through a game of “Say Say Oh Playmate”?
Hey. Listen. Let’s get real here. Just because you think an imperfect high five is like some kind of medieval hex doesn’t mean I have to indulge your creeping O.C.D. Maybe I have kind of bad hand-eye coordination. You know what, NOT THE END OF THE WORLD AS IT TURNS OUT. We don’t need to stop everything until we get it right, Mama Rose. There are things worth being a perfectionist about but let’s just take one moment to prioritize. If this country took all the energy we expended redoing inadequate high fives and funneled that into something productive, we could get so much shit done.
LOOK. I’M SORRY MY MOTOR SKILLS AREN’T GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU, YOUR MAJESTY. But we can’t take back the shitty high five. It happened. It’s done. Now we have a choice. Are we going to move forward, or are we going to live lives fueled by regret, constantly scrambling backward into the past? I SAY LET’S MOVE FORWARD.
Raphael: You want me to tell you a funny story to cheer you up?
Raphael: Okay, this is a story about the time I did mushrooms.
Raphael: But you can’t tell Mom and Dad about this.
Raphael: Adam just reminded me of this today — I don’t remember this at all…
Raphael: But apparently when I was on mushrooms, out of nowhere I said, “I just realized something… I’m Smee!”
Raphael: (Smee is Captain Hook’s dopey sidekick from Disney’s Peter Pan.)
Raphael: Then I looked at Adam and said, “No, wait! YOU’RE SMEE!”
Raphael: Then I chased him around the beach shouting, “You’re Smee! You’re Smee!”
Raphael: That’s the whole story.
Amalia: love it
Amalia: i love that a whole lot
Raphael: So Adam texted me this afternoon, saying “Am I Smee? No, you’re Smee!” and I had no idea what he was talking about.
Raphael: But I was immediately like, “Fuck you, I’m not Smee, you’re Smee.”
Raphael: Kevin’s always talking about how amazing mushrooms are and how you can like see your true self and I’m just like, Really? Because Adam and I just got in a long debate over who’s more Smee-like.