I can be a bit of curmudgeon. During some recent introspection on this trait, I identified certain popular phenomena, people, and activities that, for me, generate a lower level of enthusiasm than for the majority of other people. At the risk of alienating anyone who reads this, I’ve listed a few items that will probably get me branded as an Ignorant Savage.
The Wizard of Oz: I can remember watching this movie as a kid and wondering why everyone loved it. Sure, Judy Garland could sing and Toto was a cute dog, but the appeal of a brainless scarecrow, heartless tinman, cowardly lion, a couple of witches, and something about clicking shoes together just didn’t resonate with me.
I went on line and looked at some lists of the 100 Greatest Movies Ever Made. The Wizard of Oz was ranked sixth on one and second on another. Really? How this production is ranked ahead of Bonnie and Clyde, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, or The Deerhunter is beyond my comprehension. What’s interesting is I love Wicked, which was a funny look at the same story. The hit musical increased my appreciation of L. Frank Baum’s brilliance. Unfortunately, I still can’t warm up to the movie adaptation of his book.
Avocados: Over the past several years, this “superfood” has taken over the culinary world. People add it to sandwiches, burgers, tacos, and toast. Chefs have started mixing them into stir-fry dishes. And, of course, they’re the main ingredient in guacamole, the Holy Grail of avocado consumption. When my family gets together, there’s often a group guacamole preparation time, with my wife and a couple of the kids laughing their way through the mashing, mixing, and testing process. I’m usually on the couch or cutting up slices of cheese for my crackers. When we visited Costa Rica a bunch of years ago, they made the guacamole right next to the table, kind of like what they do with Fettucine Alfredo and Caesar Salad here. Boy, it looked good and I wanted to grab a warm tortilla chip and shovel up a generous portion. Alas, after one sample, I went straight to the salsa. Avocados look so tasty, I keep trying to enjoy them but, unfortunately, I don’t think it’s in the cards.
George Clooney: Lord knows, I’ve made a sincere effort. I’ve seen most of the man’s movies and even enjoyed some of them. At the same time, his on-screen persona just doesn’t sit right with me. I don’t know why and truly believe the problem is mine. I mean, by all accounts, he’s a good guy who does a lot for the community. You never see news clips of him leaving rehab or, as far as I know, any mugshots after the police nabbed him for something. Plus, he’s the great Rosemary Clooney’s nephew. That alone should be enough. I think a lot of people have a similar problem, only with different performers. For example, I know someone who can’t watch Sarah Jessica Parker in anything. It seems that there are personal quirks we all have to accept.
Sunrise and Sunset Viewing: I know, I know. While the previous items may have been unusual, this one is mind boggling. Who doesn’t look forward to the quiet tranquility that comes with these special times of the day? In a word – me. It’s not that I don’t think the magnificent colors and golden rays of sunlight aren’t beautiful. It’s just that, after about fifteen seconds, I’m like “okay, great, let’s move on to the next thing.” I don’t need a camera full of pictures that I’ll never look at again (except when a fellow participant shows it to someone at a later date) and I certainly don’t need to invest twenty to thirty minutes watching the whole process evolve. Sunrise has the added issue of occurring at a completely uncivilized hour. If I’m going to be up and moving at that time of day, it’s to go fishing or get to the airport for a flight to somewhere fun. Sitting in a chair or on a hill watching light emerge from darkness is not worth losing sleep over.
Beach Vacations: I go to the beach and really enjoy using a boogie board or body surfing. The problem is, I only appreciate the experience in small doses. After a maximum of three days, I’m tired of sand permeating my food, perpetual dehydration, and sitting in the equivalent of a frying pan reading a book. Now, we have done plenty of week-long stays at the Outer Banks, and its usually great family time. Given options, however, I’d prefer visiting a city or spending an extended length of time in the mountains.
Hamilton: Before you scream that I’m an unevolved Cro-Magnon barbarian, please hear me out. I enjoyed seeing Hamilton. I thought it was entertaining, informative, and unique. I’d pay serious money to travel through Lin-Manuel Miranda’s brain and check out the wiring that created something this innovative (for the record, I’d also pay to observe what’s going on upstairs with Stephen King and the late Robin Williams.) I just don’t think it’s the greatest Broadway play in history, something that eclipses all other shows ever produced. I don’t need to see it multiple times or listen the soundtrack while I’m exercising.
I think part of the problem is that I’m not fond of shows that are basically all singing, with no significant dialogue. For instance, I went to sleep while watching Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, and not because I dozed off by mistake. I actually made a conscious decision to take a nap. Seeing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was a tedious evening; I couldn’t wait for it to end. On the other hand, I’d go see Les Misérables again. I’ve given up trying to figure out why.
My favorite Broadway shows are Jersey Boys, Motown, and Beautiful. So, I’m guess I’m more of a snappy music fan and would rather watch stories about entertainers/bands from my youth. Along these lines, I highly recommend Million Dollar Quartet, if you ever get the chance. It’s worth it just for the Jerry Lee Lewis character.
Before I end, it’s important to note that I’m not a total crank. For example, I fully embrace the modern trend to binge watch a show rather than viewing it in the traditional fashion. I think it’s good that there’s more vegetarian and gluten-free dining options, and for those of you enjoy eating a plant-based burger, I’ve got your back. I find texting to be an extremely efficient form of communication and social media sites a great way of knowing what’s happening with those in my orbit. I love some of the more venerable traditions too – Super Bowl Sunday, the holidays, and big, crazy, weddings, especially if we all dance to the Hokey-Pokey. But I thought it might be good to “come clean” on those things that I just can’t seem to embrace as much as everyone else. It’s okay, though, right? We’re all friends here, aren’t we? Aren’t we?
Is anyone there?