Riff Raff, by Michael Tilley
The older of the young ladies in the Fort Smith branch of the Tilley family is in the process of morphing into a teenager.
There is a new sense of empathy for the fictional family of Gregor Samsa.
Morphing apparently involves a disconnect between the world in which she lives and the world around her. This is especially true when sound travels from a parental mouth to her ears. For example, her father or mother might provide the following instructions: “Please clean your room, take a shower, get your clothes ready for school and make sure your homework is finished and in your backpack ready to go.”
What filters through the selective-hearing auditory canal to a Rubik’s Cube message center in an emergent teenager is this: “Leave your room a mess, never mind the shower and wait until the last possible minute to get ready for school. Also, we parents will be disappointed if you are NOT wholly annoyed with us when we are frustrated and question you about not being ready for school.”
Wonderment about this disconnect recently coincided with attempts to keep up with fiscal cliff deliberations on CSPAN. The wonderment itself morphed into the realization that our political leaders in Washington D.C. are frighteningly similar to newly-formed teenagers.
Let’s consider a list of similarities.
TEENAGERS: They say stupid things but rarely realize they’ve said something stupid. This Tilley child/teenager recently asked if the city of Berlin was named after legendary composer Irving Berlin.
FEDERAL POLITICIANS: There was Biden saying FDR went on TV to talk about the “princes of greed” when the stock market crashed. Except the stock market crashed several years before FDR was president and Presidents then addressed the nation via radio.
TEENAGERS: Teenagers are unable to focus for more than 17 seconds.
FEDERAL POLITICIANS: Congress hasn’t passed a budget for several years now.
TEENAGERS: Teenagers become normal, nice and approachable a few weeks before their birthday.
FEDERAL POLITICIANS: These folks become normal, nice and approachable a few weeks before election day.
TEENAGERS: Whatever you tell a teenager is either ignored, misunderstood, partially followed or taken in the complete opposite direction.
FEDERAL POLITICIANS: How long has the American public asked Washington to end deficit spending?
TEENAGERS: Sometimes you want to slap them.
FEDERAL POLITICIANS: Sometimes you want to slap them.
TEENAGERS: You love them, but don’t always trust everyone in their peer group.
FEDERAL POLITICIANS: You’ve said this: “Well, I like my Congressman, but the rest of those losers need to go.”
TEENAGERS: They are often involved in meaningless squabbles with friends or siblings, and they think the outcome of the conflict could mean the end of their world.
FEDERAL POLITICIANS: Members of the alleged august U.S. Senate have consumed several news cycles arguing over nuanced differences in filibuster rules.
TEENAGERS: They think your money is their money.
FEDERAL POLITICIANS: They think your money is their money.
TEENAGERS: They talk to each other in a language that sometimes resembles English.
FEDERAL POLITICIANS: Ever listen to these jokers on CSPAN?
TEENAGERS: Teenagers brazenly look you in the eye and lie to you, and they don’t realize you see right through it.
“Read my lips …”
“I did not have sexual relations …”
“I will close Guantanamo …”
TEENAGERS: A teenager often believes you are the idiot who doesn’t understand life or the current situation.
FEDERAL POLITICIANS: We have a more than 200 year supply of natural gas and access to significant domestic oil reserves, but the political establishment tells us that obtaining energy independence is complicated, and that somehow importing billions of barrels of oil a year is more environmentally friendly than drilling in the U.S.
TEENAGERS: Teenagers figure out a way to do just enough to keep you loving them so you don’t abandon them for a puppy or goldfish.
FEDERAL POLITICIANS: Even the worst schmuck of a Congressman will bring home a few million dollars each year in special project money.
TEENAGERS: Teenagers have grandparents who see no harm in spoiling them in the midst of your efforts to keep them connected to reality.
FEDERAL POLITICIANS: Politicians in D.C. have lobbyists, and unions and business groups who contribute generously to their special PACs.
There is a difference between the two, however.
The teenager has a good chance of emerging from a hormonally-induced hiatus to become again a relatively non-disruptive family member.