Monday, August 2, 2010
Could We Live Forever?
One of my lovely Facebook friends posted a link to this article that appeared on Saturday, on The New York Times web site. It got me thinking about how real life is so very different from the fictional lives of Don and Betty Draper on the series Mad Men. That's another show I cottoned to early on, but lost interest in. Now, as the whole world obsessively tunes in, I would rather watch my Sopranos DVDs ad nauseam; despite my ability to quote most of the episodes verbatim.
The Times article suggests our love for Mad Men stems from our vicarious need to watch others court disaster with the inappropriate behaviour we ourselves would love to indulge in. There's a fine line between inappropriate and indulgent. In 2010, we know that drinking alcohol while pregnant and smoking cigarettes are verboten. But what of three martini lunches or casual adulterous trysts? Today, you can't come back from lunch three sheets to the wind, or cheat on your spouse without suffering the consequences of technology Don Draper could never fathom. Maybe that's why we revel vicariously in that behaviour: we know how hard it is to get away with in 2010, rather than in the early 1960s. I'm sure that just ups the ante for all you adrenaline junkies, but for me, it's not worth the risk. Escaping the consequences are virtually impossible today.
The cigarettes and alcohol consumption aside, what about the obsessive health consciousness that dominates today's society? The damage has been irreparable over the last 40 or so years, with all the genetically modified foods, hormone-saturated meats and high fructose corn syrup we North Americans have been known to ingest. If you're lucky enough, or gullible enough (depending on who you talk to), to be able to buy all organic from your milk to your clothing, are you really benefiting from spending the extra money? There are all kinds of theories out there, from what to eat and how much of it, to what to "avoid like the plague" - actual advice as part of a "plant-based" diet. It's about as confusing as choosing a mobile phone plan, because you never pay attention to the fine print until the first bill shows up, and it ends up costing twice what you thought it would.
Now that I've lived long enough to see 5 decades, I think I've made it through with flying colours so far. Is there the potential for me to develop a softball sized tumour somewhere in my body? I'd be kidding myself if I said, hell no. I don't subsist on an all Swedish fish and Kentucky Fried Chicken diet, but I'm not ingesting tofu, wheat grass, spirulina, Maca powder and hemp seeds on a regular basis, either. I'm trying to locate the happy medium, and so far, I haven't been very successful.
I like to hearken back to some of George Carlin's classic comedy, like when he said, "Maybe the kid who swallowed the marbles wasn't meant to make it anyway." Or, "Kids wearing bicycle helmets? I swam in the Hudson River as a kid for God's sake!" I'm not of George Carlin's generation, and as of right now, I'm still in the land of the living. But, I have to agree with what he said because, I didn't wear a bicycle helmet, and I survived countless skinned knees, a broken wrist and a badly pulled thigh muscle that kept me off the Varsity fencing team in high school. And here I still am telling you about it. I realize none of that is cancer, but I'm not sure I buy into all the propaganda out there about the food we eat. Just for the record, I don't believe Barack Obama is a Muslim, either.
Here in Canada, our "Socialist" government has a keen interest in keeping the population healthy because our health care costs are mostly on their dime. In the US, the government is waging a pitch-battle with the insurance industry to do away with things like pre-existing conditions, co-pays, deductibles and monetary health insurance policy limits. Who will emerge victorious? It will be interesting to see. In the meantime, Don and Betty, and the rest of the characters of Mad Men, will go on waging their morality wars of yesteryear, while we secretly wish we were them.
I have to ask: Is it worthwhile to worry about what you can't see coming? I plan on ruminating on that one over a bucket of chicken.
Check out the "Mad Men Me" I created here.