According to the final chorus of Jimmy Buffett’s 1977 tract, CHANGES IN LATITUDES, CHANGES IN ATTITUDES, from the album by the same name, “If we weren’t all crazy, we would all go insane.” It’s a change from the first chorus which says, “If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.” I am sorry Mr. Buffett, with today’s climate, I have suddenly found myself far beyond laughing and wonder most days if I am truly insane.
I don’t hear or see much laughing in these latitudes. I know I’m not laughing much. Maybe I need a new set of friends. Seems I’m laughing only as a last resort. “When all else fails, I laugh, roll my eyes upward and turn and run away.” Maybe if I “ran into a chum, with a bottle of rum….”
I didn’t run into an old chum, but I called one. She really wasn’t a chum. Without giving too much away, at one point I wanted her to be more than a chum. I didn’t call her to talk about old times, per se, but rather I called about the climate of abuse exposed recently. I was concerned the abuse I was reading about in Hollywood and the seats of our government might have trickled down to Small Town, South Carolina. I didn’t consider myself to be an abuser…but I wasn’t sure. I knew I wasn’t an exposer, but had I been a harasser? I decided I should call her to find out…and apologize while I was at it.
When it comes to women, at age sixteen, I was an immature jerk. At ages twenty, twenty-five and thirty…I was still an immature jerk…. It seemed to be the gold standard for the time. At some point, around thirty-two or three, I had an epiphany. When it came to women, I realized, “I am an immature jerk!” By age thirty-five, I was actively attempting to change my “jerkiness.” A girl child should cause a change, as should the love for a good woman. Change shouldn’t have been necessary, and I admit, according to the good woman I have spent the past thirty-one years with, I still succumb to bouts of “jerkiness.”
During my periods of hardcore, immature “jerkiness”, as I read of President Kennedy’s numerous indiscretions I thought, “Man, what a stud!” I laughed at the vision of Fannie Foxe’s attempted escape into the Tidal Basin when Wilbur Mills was pulled over for drunken driving. I thought nothing when the good people of Arkansas decided to re-elect Wilbur despite his dalliances and drunkenness. When President Clinton claimed, “I never had sex with that woman”, and the dozens of others, I reasoned, “Well they were…I think, consensual liaisons.” I dismissed them as “boys being boys” although I never looked at a cigar quite the same way.
I believed it was the way of the world, the “latitude” we found ourselves in. Women shouldn’t dress that way. What did you expect, shaking your ass like that? She brought it all on herself. For some reason, it was always the woman’s fault because, you know, “boys being boys,” wink, wink. With audio evidence and women accusers stepping forward, we still elected a foul-mouthed, womanizer to the highest political position in the country. Yeah, I’ve been foul-mouthed…but never have I said that to or about a woman.
With hundreds of accusations coming to light, it would appear we are in a “changes in latitude, changes in attitude” period of history. It appears heavy and violent seas have been encountered. Women are standing up despite the “why wait twenty, thirty or forty years” to do so. They are standing up in droves despite the “she said no but she really meant yes” excuses. Women are standing up because a pretty face doesn’t mean a small brain. The lamest excuse I’ve heard is, she shouldn’t dress that way. News alert. While men are visual learners…and visual other stuff, women should be able to dress to attract us and yet, we as men should learn we are not God’s gift to EVERY woman. We may not be the man they are dressing for. No doesn’t mean yes and we shouldn’t use positions of power to cop a feel or worse. This is not a woman’s problem…It is not a politics as usual problem…It is not a conspiracy theory. We can no longer explain it away as “boys being boys” or locker room talk. We have moved to a different latitude…and we as men should heed the hurricane warnings.
I know you are on the edge of your seat. How did my phone call go? She let me off the hook. We had a great conversation about the history of yesteryear seen under the light of today. She and I will never agree on our politics but at least one of us agrees, I didn’t abuse my position, I didn’t take advantage of her. Despite her assurances, I still wonder…and I still worry. I hope apologies mean something.
For more of Don Miller’s “a bubble off plumb” outlook on life please visit his author’s page at http://amazon.com/author/cigarman501