Saturday, September 22, 2007

Perpetual Adolescence, cont.

A word on fashion for women of a certain age
When trying to present a fun-loving, sensual persona, especially one directed toward heterosexual men, it's very important that the terms saggy-assed and weather beaten do not go along with poontang or piece of tail. There are numerous solutions, most of them found in foundation garments that move smoothly into the bedroom.

Considering the premise that being in a state of perpetual adolescence makes a person a bad role model for kids, I have to wonder if the population Diana West addresses has a ton more money than my friends and I do. We have all chosen family, friends and fun - laughter and good food - weed, whites and wine over job titles, long hours and six figure salaries. They could be those people with SUV's and taking their kids on expensive Mediterranean cruises like it's educational when they're really shopping for pricey crap and trapped in a buffet line with 2500 people.

That kind of person is to be avoided at all costs. I couldn't dress like my teenager if I wanted to because I'm spending all my money on his clothes, the mortgage, marijuana, lingerie and the occasional case a descent wine. I'm broke by noon.

CNN vs Cartoon Network
It is possible that I'm obsessing on this Diana West interview in Newsweek because someone felt compelled to send me the link which indicates that being a 48 year old woman smoking weed barefoot in Levis sounds like a perpetual adolescent to him, even facetiously. However, in the surrounding discussion on the Internet, someone sited a statistic showing more people over 18 were watching Cartoon Network than CNN. It doesn't take a PhD to know that's because CNN sucks. They say the same thing all day long just like hurricane chasers on the Weather Channel. Further, if a person is looking for news, s/he better look somewhere else to get a relatively complete, objective source. They don't give topics enough time on CNN, and when they do it's a bunch of argufying assholes.

I'm delighted that my son and his friend (the same kid who was watching Snakes on a Plane) saw Alan Greenspan, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama on Jon Stewart. At least the kids know who those people ARE. It's possible that George Will and Diana West chastise perpetual adolescents because their targeted demographic also uses there, they're and their interchangeably despite having a high school diploma. If that is so - then I agree with their every assertion on this topic with one exception.

The deplorable state of Standard English usage in America could be blamed on the distribution of wealth, so that working families couldn't care less about meeting the grammatical standards of the wealthy jerks who have been in charge of the government and economy at least since the Sixties were lost to Yuppies. These are the same jerks who have arranged the system so that legislators, insurance companies, health care organizations and pharmaceutical companies have a vested interest in keeping everyone adequately medicated for modern survival. My contention is that if weed were easily and legally accessible, then people might be more relaxed and thoughtful.

Party on, Dudes. Be Excellent to Each Other (Bill & Ted, 1989).

Friday, September 21, 2007

Menopausal Stoner Response to Diana West Interview in Newsweek

Diana West is currently trying to sell a book she wrote around the notion of perpetual adolescence and the abdication of adult responsibility. In a Newsweek interview (, she sites NY Times article, "The Boys in the Band are in AARP" (June 17, 2007). Apparently, old guys having the same kind of fun they did in High School sets a bad example for today's youth.

I probably qualify as someone she would say is a poor role model for my child since I'm a pot smoking 48 year-old woman. However, I've always exercised my authority with my child. I took him to tour the police precinct down the block when he was in Kindergarten. When I asked the desk officer to please show the boy what happens to all the people who have not listened to their mothers, she was delighted to participate. She let him sit on a long bench with shackles and everything. The other day, he and a friend were in the living room watching Snakes on a Plane. Both sixteen year-old boys agreed that I'd be perfect playing the Samuel L. Jackson role which says to me I may be a Menopausal Stoner, but I have plenty of mutherfuckin' authority.

Further, every Menopausal Stoner I've ever met has enough sense to dress their age - or at least like the old hippies they are. We get high and make fun of those old broads with tanned hide skin on Madison Avenue dressed up like the Charmed girls. We also ridicule balding men who have never been rock stars yet insist on wearing leather pants. Imagine George Costanza in leather pants - a bad role model for anyone no matter what age.

She describes a life with no beginning, middle or end, referencing Lionel Trilling. Trilling may be onto something, but I haven't seen his research. Diana West, at least in this interview, doesn't adequately explain how fun loving older folks are bad role models. It doesn't logically follow that adult responsibility has been avoided by people who are paying the bills, staying out of jail and saving for retirement. It also seems inherently necessary for a person to admit s/he is not a teenager anymore before joining AARP in the first place. If I'm reading this article correctly, West's premise is that responsible parents are boring old codgers.

As someone with two advanced degrees in Education and over fifteen years experience as a nursery school teacher, I will agree that many parents seem to be afraid to be the authority figure children require to feel secure. Kids who don't have limits have too much power over their grown-ups and get anxious. Anxious kids frequently are misdiagnosed with ADHD and other learning disabilities. This stuff is old news, and frankly, I don't think it has a thing to do with still finding the things you did as a teenager fun. It has to do with being an idiot. A person can get stoned or play in a garage band and be a wonderful role model. Buying your clothes from Lands' End doesn't guarantee you'll be a good parent. All kinds of people dress and act their age, but they are still butt heads about making the world a less frenzied, consumerist, apathetic, polluted and violent place.

Forrest Gump may have said it best: Stupid is as stupid does.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Why We Wax and Me

One of the nice things about being a Menopausal Stoner is that when we were kids, we watched the Sixties on TV. Friends and Family may have gone to Peace Marches or to do volunteer work for local social or political causes - and sometimes they took us along.

There were so many things going on back then that it was hard to absorb and process them all at once - but they were all there on the TV news: The Civil Rights Movement, The Democratic Convention in Chicago, Women's Liberation, Sexual Liberation, Make Love not War, The War The War and The War, Woodstock, The Beatles, with a Man on the Moon every now and then thrown in for kicks.

I read somewhere that once kids determine a role for themselves within the family, they begin look beyond their life at home and at school to the larger outside world. It was during this time - like when we were around eight to twelve years old - that we received a steady diet of the Nightly News. By the time we were teenagers, we had heard "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country," even if only on TV. Then we saw our country shoot four college students at Kent State.

I thought for sure we'd all die in a nuclear war. We didn't. But as we've gotten older, we've had an opportunity to synthesize the messages coming at us from all directions back then into a personal philosophy.

Before I agreed to be interviewed for "Why We Wax", I was already thinking about all the social chaos back then, and feminism in particular, because I had been puzzled by something a charming man of my acquaintance had done. He was standing right next to me in my kitchen while I struggled on my tip toes to reach a wine glass. Where I come from, he should have reached it for me without a comment. My mother and I discussed the situation and concluded that since he has always lived up here in the North and is a little bit younger than me, he must have been at college with women who considered themselves feminists and reprimanded men for daring to suggest they weren't capable of simple tasks like reaching glasses and carrying bags. Women in Texas are different. I can't remember any woman ever blaming a man's behavior on his attitude about women. An asshole is an asshole no matter what the reason. I imagined that if Ann Richards were on that dove hunt with Dick Cheney she'd have knocked him in the head with the butt of her rifle and called him a moron while everyone else held off the Sheriff until Dick's blood alcohol level dropped. My Granny the Ho hadn't even heard of Feminism when she cut bald spots all over the head of her third husband. She just took care of business.

So I had already been thinking a lot about feminism before I was interviewed for Why We Wax, and then I started considering sexual pleasure and Brazilian bikini waxes from a feminist perspective. During the interview, one of the producers asked if I thought some women get them just because their husbands or boyfriends want them to. I answered that as I recall, Gloria Steinem had once said every woman in America is one man away from welfare - so I could see how some women might feel compelled to get waxed for someone else's benefit.

For me, though, great sex is my right and privilege as a human being. I don't know if I think that because of the Women's Movement or because of the Sexual Revolution brought about by the Pill or because sensuality runs deep in my Celtic blood. I've been dedicated to reintegrating healthy sexuality into my life since I got divorced last year, and orgasms are a top priority. My first Brazilian may have resulted from a complete misunderstanding at my favorite Korean nail salon, but once I got one, I learned that sex really is better with a Brazilian. If it's my right to have the best sex possible, and having a Brazilian makes it better - then having a Brazilian is, for me, a Feminist Imperative.

Menopausal Stoners

Who is a Menopausal Stoner?
Anyone who watched body bags coming home from Vietnam while they ate Swanson TV dinners qualifies as a Menopausal Stoner, with men being known as Manopausal Stoners. Most of us were born a little too late to count as Baby Boomers and were still in elementary school when our older brothers, cousins, friends and relatives were in danger from the draft lottery. While we ourselves may have escaped that threat, we did emerge from that time convinced we would be graveyard dead before we ever saw the age of 25. Substance abuse – either current or historical – is not a requirement. All you need is a healthy dose of outrage and dismay at America’s sociopolitical climate.

The Genesis of Menopausal Stoners
Menopausal Stoners came about because several girlfriends - all over 40 - happened to be on Vicodin at the same time due to medical conditions. It also just so happened that these girlfriends had all started smoking weed again after years and years of restricting their substance use to alcohol. Moms often feel compelled to quit smoking weed which is probably a good thing overall, but once the kids are gone half the time there's no reason not to get high every now and then - unless of course you can't find any weed.

Discussing the concept of a Menopausal Stoner with random folks I met anywhere from on the bus in the city to a microbrewery near Plymouth, VT where an enchanting creek runs beside the deck showed conclusively that lots of people were getting high. And, except for the legalities involved, as long as we are as responsible with smoking as we are with drinking -- why shouldn't we?

Additional research showed that Twenty Something clerks at convenience stores were particularly amused by the idea that some fifty year old women were not simply dumb or dingy customers – the old broads were high. Apparently, these youngsters thought they were the only ones who got high. That impression had to be instantaneously corrected.

About this time my 16 year old son came home stoned with a couple of friends. Since he had clearly made his choice in this area, I figured I could come out of the closet with the weed. There is no communal bong in the living room, and no minors are allowed to smoke weed in my apartment. That is my privilege since I pay the mortgage. Further, my kid and I agreed that getting high together would be entirely too weird. It's a boundary thing . . .

I do, however, consider it my duty as a concerned and attentive parent to provide good munchies. Between bursts of goofy laughter, the guys enjoy treats from Trader Joe’s. They like those crunchy little organic chocolate chip cookies, especially with ice cream, and the chocolate almond tart. It really is a lot like June Cleaver’s or Donna Reed’s TV house – except the mom and/or the children are occasionally stoned. Also, I never bake my own cookies since that generally ends badly, and I’m a single mom since my former husband, Buzz Kill, had to be sent back to his mother. But that’s another story.

Not long ago, I was reading about the status of medicinal use of marijuana in the state legislature when the man-child entered. I looked up from the New York Times and said, "Son, I have concluded that it behooves us as a family to work towards the decriminalization of marijuana." He quickly warmed to this topic - going straight for legalization and his plan to package spleefs to sell vending machines like the ones in Japan. A boy can dream.

Decriminalization of marijuana is not merely a project for the young. Menopausal Stoners will be working on this task as soon as we put down the pipe and figure something out. For the moment, I'll continue to listen to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young with a new ear. Our generation must Get Back to the Garden (yes, I know Joni wrote it) at least figuratively in order to stop this country from going to Hell in a Hand basket. Anyone with a brain can see it's been thoroughly screwed ever since Ronald Reagan told all the white people to quit with the social justice stuff, move to the suburbs and shop. That's why we smoke weed for crying out loud. Granted, loosing the 60's was depressing, but we owe it to our children to mobilize. Hence, Menopausal Stoners.


Patricia E. Nolan