February 9, 2023- A few days ago, we read a story called “Eleven”, by Sandra Cisneros. The author speaks in the voice of a girl who is observing her eleventh birthday, in the classroom of a seemingly senescent teacher, who also has it in for the girl. While waiting patiently for the dismissal bell, the birthday girl considers that her new age is also an amalgam of each year that came before it. Part of her is still ten, as well as five-when she needs her Mom’s comfort or two, when she adamantly objects to a directive, without quite knowing why.
This came to mind again, two nights ago, when I watched the State of the Union address. The hecklers were all out of Central Casting, it seems, and would not have been out of place on the set of “Chicago”, when Catherine Zeta-Jones and Queen Latifah were musing about the lack of class, whilst themselves indulging in unclassy behaviour. The ringleader, Marjorie Taylor-Greene, reprising her heckler role from the last such event, could have filled in for CZJ, though her vocal chops are unknown, besides the immature braying. It was sheer vaudeville, with the President giving as well, if not better, than he took.
Yes, Sandra Cisneros is right. Each of us can, and does, revert to earlier versions of ourselves, when frustrated, scared, feeling disempowered or perpetually ignored-or just plain exhausted. We have seen a septuagenarian spend time in the limelight, bullying and catcalling those who upset him, often over the least little affront. We have seen a Rhodes Scholar demean himself and his office, by taking up with a woman young enough to be his daughter while alluding to similar behaviour by others who held that office, in the past. Most recently, we have seen a woman, in the name of comedy, curse at a man young enough to be her son, just for the fact of his age-and that he is serving in the same House of Representatives as she.
Maturity is a hard row, but you know, I am grateful to the actual children, whose presence reminds me to act my age. They need the example, and I need the practice.
And then there was a Speaker of the House who ripped up a Presidents speech live on TV behind home while knowing she was on air.
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That was just as bad. There is no excuse, ever, for not talking things out.