In which I think about parenting in like 17 years


Just been thinking, now, about the future. And particularly, like, the kids whose gender-reveal parties set off wildfires. It’s important that kids learn the fallibility of their parents. Like, I learned it when we had a small earthquake, in New Jersey, and my mother blamed it on my brothers running around the house. But that was just a little embarrassment and the discovery that oh, yeah, you do get these adorable harmless little earthquakes in New Jersey now and then.

When that fallibility is tied to a major natural disaster, though? Think how many times the kid will be able to get away with a line like, “Well, yeah, Dad, I screwed up and smashed the car into the telephone pole. What can I say, it’s bad. I mean, it’s not like the time you started a wildfire that destroyed three-quarters of Sonoma County including the Olympic-class ice-skating-rink that Charles Schulz, beloved creator of Peanuts, built for the community, because you wanted twenty people to know whether I had a penis. But yeah, my judgement is the bad one.” My guess is twice.

Where Kids Go


We were at this event with some friends, one of whom brought kids. That’s all right. The odd thing is the kids vanished now and then, but came back later. Where did they go? I don’t know. I’m inclined to suppose that any kids not being observed are off doing what kids do at that age. I believe this to be “climbing trees” or “having impossibly complicated adventures to explain why they returned from the gumball machine you watched them walk to and from with neither a gumball nor the quarter you gave them to buy one” or maybe “gathering alarmingly huge piles of yellow dandelions to tie into knots and drop on the table. I mean, we’re in the middle of the Tri-County Expo Center. We’re inside Meeting Halls C-through-E. There’s like a twenty-foot patch of lawn outside the far side of the complex, in the middle of forty acres of parking lot. Where are you even finding dandelions? How are you doing this? How?”.

My figuring is the kids eventually come back if you leave them alone, although crying, and passing every cold going around North and South America to you. My love tells me that while kids vanished like that when our, Generation X, cohort was raised parents don’t do things like that anymore. I don’t see why they don’t. It isn’t like before our generation was eight we were all dragged off by binturongs to their bintur-lairs to become the victims of unspeakable acts of giant Southeast-Asian-civet-ness. Or buried under a mountain of pine cones.

Although, come to think of it, our generation cohort is a small one. There’s about 960 people in Generation X. There are more living former members of the United States Congress than there are Generation Xers. This is much smaller than the Baby Boomers, who numbered about 144,823,002,038 million all told. And it’s smaller than the Millennials, whose numbers are large but can’t be counted because the Baby Boomer and Generation X researchers can’t stand to talk to them long enough to count one. There’s got to be as many of them as there were Baby Boomers, though, based on IP address usage. Looking over the numbers now … my generation’s count is pretty low. Maybe most of our cohort was dragged off by binturongs etc etc while out dandelion-gathering. Well, you know whose fault that was? The Baby Boomers’.

We’re happy to blame the Baby Boomers. Everyone is. I’d say the Baby Boomers themselves started that, but their parents were blaming them before even the Baby Boomers were. And it’s a safe bet, too, like blaming something on “historical factors”. As if there were anything that weren’t a “historical factor”. They’re just this big, irresistible demographic target. Some Baby Boomers will defend their generation. They can point out how their generation saw transcendent artists like the Beatles, civil rights greats like Gloria Steinem and Dr Martin Luther King, inspirational heroes like the Apollo astronauts, or transformational political figures like Lyndon Johnson, not a single one of whom was a Baby Boomer. But the Baby Boomers were looking very hard and saw some or all of these figures, so that’s something. But for the most part, if you want to say something bad about a generation, say it about the Baby Boomers, and everybody will go along with you.

It’s hating on the Millennials that takes some explaining. For the most part the only thing they’ve done that’s really awful is not put their cell phones away. I’m not saying that isn’t bad. But when you compare it to, like, the time in 1983 when the Baby Boomers laughed Manimal and Automan off the air despite their being the coolest TV shows ever, the cell phone business is nothing.

My hypothesis is that we Generation Xers hate on Millennials because of water pistols. When we were kids, water pistols were water pistols: small, hand-sized things made of translucent yet kind of pink plastic. You filled them with water, then got ready to shoot someone, and then the stopper in the back fell out and most of the reservoir spilled on your wrist. Then you pulled the trigger and the rest dribbled down your finger. Your target remained the dryest thing to have ever existed, what with being outside the maximum six-inch range anyway. Millennials have real water guns. They’re capable of holding enough water to douse the Great Fire Of New York, 1835, each. And they can spray them far enough to threaten Panama Canal shipping all the way from Grand Rapids, Michigan. And if that weren’t enough some of the soakers are made to look like dinosaurs even though there’s no way they can tastefully shoot a fluid stream like that.

I’m not saying the Generation X/Millennials thing is entirely caused by envy. For one thing, who invented water pistols that actually work? Baby Boomers. For another, my generation can actually afford to buy them. The only Millennials who’ve been hired are there so Baby Boomers would have someone to call the worst. They tried sticking Generation X with that label two decades ago, you know. But there were too few of us, and we were too hard to find, up in the trees, gathering dandelions, and talking over intergenerational politics with the binturongs.

What I Have Learned About Curing Werewolves And The Danes


First I should warn it was idle curiosity. My love and I were not looking up werewolf cures out of any need. We’ve had no trouble with the werewolves in the neighborhood. The ones down the block even took down a diseased tree before it could become an eyesore, never mind a menace. It’s left a sad unshaded spot on the street, and it’s enraged the squirrels who were still using the tree as a major traffic route. But it is responsible property management from the neighborhood werewolves. If all our neighbors were like this our neighborhood would be set for gentrification.

What we had done was start idly talking about werewolf remedies. Silver bullets, sure, everybody knows that. But what did people do before they had bullets? And there’s no way that’s a universal cure, because there isn’t even a universal treatment for vampirism. The thing to do with a vampire depends on what cultural tradition the vampire comes from. It had to be the same for werewolves. So I could find some dubiously-sourced, arguably grammar-based explanations I dashed off to Wikipedia. Well, not dashed, because I’m scared of making my back angry again. But off to Wikipedia and I wasn’t disappointed.

And, yes, the silver bullet thing is a modern movie-created thing. Of course it is. Stuff is never as old as you image. The concept of zombies is actually newer than the Battlestar Galactica reboot. The first-ever reporting of the Loch Ness Monster dates to six years after Rerun van Pelt was added to Peanuts. There are no references to the legendary “Jersey Devil” from before March of next year. Most of the spooky creatures of our imagination are the result of scenes padding out Rankin/Bass specials.

Werewolves aren’t so completely new, though, if you believe Wikipedia. I choose to accept what Wikipedia says because that’s easier than doing research. I’m not disappointed.

The Ancient Greeks and Romans, allegedly, “believed in the power of exhaustion in curing people of lycanthropy”. Apparently, if you just put them to a lot of effort the werewolf would conclude it was too much work to go on being a werewolf and they’d go back to human. Or maybe they’d go to wolf, if that’s what they were better at being. I don’t know if the Ancient Greeks and Romans would be fine with a werewolf who stuck to being a wolf. I suspect so. I mean, yes, humans have always gone off hunting and persecuting wolves. But they’ve always gone off hunting and persecuting humans, too. Someone who won’t commit to being human or wolf must be particularly ire-raising. If they’d settle to one thing or another then society would know what to persecute them for.

But exhaustion as a way of curing lycanthropy. It suggests society could handle an invasion by werewolf hordes just by setting them to raking the leaves and painting the houses. We could save society and raise the property values all down the street. Of course I don’t know that the Ancient Greeks and Romans cared about raking the leaves. They got into some weird things, all the weirder when Pythagoras got involved. And now I’m sorry that I don’t know anything Pythagoras said about werewolves. It would surely have been among the ten funniest things humanity has ever expressed.

Wikipedia keeps delivering imagination-capturing data, though. I started reading: “In the German lowland of Schleswig-Holstein” and right there I stop and say, “The German lowland? I wonder what Danish Wikipedia has to say about that! I certainly recognize the territory Otto von Bismarck used as a cats-paw to manipulate Austria out of German unification! Nor have I forgot how the Schleswig-Holstein plebiscite Prussia agreed to hold following the 1866 war with Austria got repeatedly postponed until after World War I!” I’m not a history major. I’m not Danish. I’m not Austrian. I’m a mathematician. I took exactly six credits of history in college and that was all United States history. I have absolutely no reason to care about Schleswig or Holstein. I admit having enjoyed some products of the latter territory’s cows. This is why I wasn’t cool enough to get into the Dungeons and Dragons circle back in middle school.

Anyway. Back to stuff that does not make people want to slug me. Allegedly, a Schleswig-Holsteinian werewolf can be cured “if one were to simply address it three times by its Christian name”. And “one Danish belief holds that simply scolding a werewolf will cure it.” That can’t be all there is to it, can it? Or maybe Danish scolding is particularly chilling. But how are Danish werewolf parents supposed to keep their children in line?

“Jaan Damian Tage, you get in here right — oh, now he’s not a werewolf! Honey, run to the store and get some Lycanthrope Powder.”

“What, Jael?”

“I said, run to the store — ”

“I’m upstairs, Jael, I can’t hear you.”

“Run to the store — ”

“Let me get downstairs, Jael.”

“Oh, now we need a double case! Oh, Radolf, Radolf, Radolf, what are we ever going to — ooop!”

Anyway. I guess this all is why I don’t know any Danish werewolves. I can’t say I’m any wiser for all this, but it’s good to know.