Saturday, August 25, 2012

Moving Forward

We’re off this weekend moving our son, Dru, back into school. When I say ‘moving’ I really mean he’s letting us come up and be with him for a couple days. Unlike his sister when she was in college, Dru does not need three able-bodied men, a dolly and a cargo van pulling a U-haul. He is a minimalist, as he puts it. So, we get to see his apartment, which he set up himself last week, and we get to stock him up at Best Buy. Then we get to take him to dinner. It’s really more for me than it is for him. There’s so little Mommy-ing left.

It’s crazy how you don’t expect the changes. They just sneak up on you. At first, there is this:

It’s such a major undertaking. A lifetime of commitment. Are we ready? 

Then, before you know it, there’s this:

 Already you can’t remember life before he was there. And you can’t see far enough ahead to imagine that he will ever not be there still. It’s just all one big blur of marvelous discovery for everyone. 

You move along, life picks up speed, and one day there’s this:

Your heart melts with every get-up. He is so adorable and you can’t wait for every last second that is going to come your way. If you’re lucky, it is all wonderful. For us, it was.

And then, one day when you aren’t expecting it, there comes this:

I’m sorry, no mother is ever really ready to look over and see a young man standing where the baby used to be. It’s just not right. He’s basically done now. You must move to the sidelines. Hopefully, he will be the kind of guy who loves his parents and still calls, at least when he needs something. Whether he does or not, ownership has transferred. He is no longer ‘yours’. The life is something you gave him and now he’s taking it over. What a crazy mixture of the greatest joy and yet a whimpering sadness.

But, that’s how it goes. Life changes and times change and we all must move along with them.

Right now, in this country, we are facing a Presidential election. We are examining our collective way of life and the state of our common affairs. Just as a little boy grows into a man before his mother's eyes, so do seeds of political discourse quickly become policy and then accepted ways of governing.

I’m not one of these people who gets all up in arms about politics. I have my opinions and I take my right to vote seriously. I do not drag out my soap box and climb up for all to hear. Every once in a while, though, a nuance of public dialogue does catch my attention. This past week, there were two.

I was surprised to learn that a woman’s body has the capability of preventing pregnancy if she is (legitimately) raped. That should come as a relief to us all. This revelation brings with it a host of positive social developments.

From now on we will know that any woman who claims she was raped, but who gets pregnant, is nothing but a damn liar. We won’t need to prosecute the guy because we will know up front he is innocent. Tax dollars saved. What’s more, the alleged rapist can immediately sue the woman for defamation and collect lots of money from her for making up the story.

Also, now that we know about it, we can harness the biological mechanism that kicks in to prevent pregnancy during rape, so we can rid ourselves of the contentious issue of whether or not the use of contraceptives is moral. Here we’ve had the innate capability all along. Who knew?

Finally, we can at last discern the difference between a real rape and a fake one. If a woman doesn’t get pregnant, we’ll assume she is a victim. If she gets pregnant, she’s just a slut.

It’s medical discoveries like this one, and the advancement of social condition that they bring, that really add to the quality of life.

The second chat thread that caught my attention last week was talk of the whole Fat Tax thing. As I understand the idea, people who are overweight are costing the rest of us money and need to be stopped, or at least they should pay for their obesity themselves.

We’ve all heard of New York Mayor Bloomberg’s ban on large size bottles of soda as a way of helping American’s slim down. I was just wondering how he thought that was going to work. Would there also be a ban on buying more than one small soda? And what would keep cheaters from buying one small soda at the 7/11 then going to the grocery store and buying another one?

Maybe they could start a national registry. When you buy a soda, you get entered into the data base. Every outlet that sells soda would have to participate in the data base as a condition of being licensed to sell the product. If you try to buy another soda before the requisite waiting period has elapsed, they will catch you and you will be denied. Maybe they could initiate a penalty for trying to get around the ban. That way, people will take it seriously.

I guess the Fat Tax is just an extension of the big soda ban. The tax would be imposed on foods with a lot of calories. That seems reasonable enough. Except, it doesn’t really seem fair for people who are not heavy. They should be able to have a piece of candy or indulge in a Big Mac now and then to reward them for all their hard work exercising and staying fit. We wouldn’t want too much government interference with our lives.

The base measure of obesity has to do with Body Mass Index (BMI). Maybe stores could be required to bring in height charts and scales. Everyone wanting to buy the offending foods would have to step up to be measured and weighed. If they fall within a certain range, they get the candy. Otherwise, put it back, Fatso, and go do some jogging. Any humiliation they might suffer in front of other customers would be good for them.

If the scales are too bulky to have around, the clerks could be outfitted with a scanner they run over each customer to quickly compute the BMI. Skinny people proceed to check out, everyone else has to return their items to the shelves until they deserve to eat those things.

What’s really exciting is that it appears progress is being made toward implementation of this type of system. According to Dr. Barry Popkin, director of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill's Interdisciplinary Center for Obesity, there are technologies already available that could enable the government to monitor obese people's diets and exercise. 

"We have devices that we could put on your throat that could measure your swallows," Popkin explains. "We have devices now to measure how much you move, so we can see when people are engaged in activity like walking or jogging.” Popkin is also quoted as suggesting that obese people could wear ankle bracelets or collars similar to those used to monitor DUI felons and people on probation. This way they could prove to the government that, despite their high BMI, they're active and eating properly. 

I've always hoped we would get to the point where we had to justify our weight to the government.

Call me cynical, or right wing or left wing, but hasn’t the national dialogue gone a bit off course? Is this really what our forefathers envisioned? They fought against oppression. We’re talking about how big the soda bottle should be, how fat each of us can get, and whether or not a man forcing himself on a woman constitutes legitimate rape. 

I just want to move my son into college and watch him finish growing up.


  1. BMI isn't always a true measure of one's fitness. Arnold Schwarzenegger is obese when he uses the BMI formula which uses height (he's short) and weight (he's solid muscle). Remember, figures lie and liars figure. And a woman never tells her weight anyway.

  2. Our national discourse is definitely off course. How is a discussion on rape, legitimate or otherwise (as if there were an otherwise) or the fat tax going to put people back to work? That's what we should be discussing. But we are not. We are filling the air with white noise because looking for step-by-step solutions to the really serious problems are dull and don't make headlines. Besides, it's so much more fun to debate the legitimacy of rape.l