Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life: Memo from Grandpa: Please don't eat worms. .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life

Monday, February 07, 2005

Memo from Grandpa: Please don't eat worms.

Carl Hiaasen is a grandfather - again. In his column yesterday, he offers to his new grandchild, not advice, but a plea to use his life wisely.

The world into which you have so hungrily arrived is a complicated, troubled and sometimes heartbreaking place. You were fortunate to have been born in the richest and most tolerant country, though it's far from perfect. You'll get a chance to make it better, and I hope you do.

Waiting down the road are opportunities so plentiful and varied as to throttle the imaginations of those of us born in the '50s. The choices you make ought to be yours alone, but it would be baloney for me to say that I'll be bursting with pride no matter what you do.

Example: While flipping TV channels the other night, I came upon a program called Fear Factor. Believe it or not, the show features young men and women swallowing live worms and repulsive parts of dead animals -- the ultimate goal being to get famous and win a wad of cash.

You will learn that this sort of witless self-degradation is what passes for entertainment in some parts of modern American culture.

Surely the parents (and grandparents) of Fear Factor contestants never dreamed those kids would someday show up on national television with cow entrails dangling from their expensively straightened teeth, but there you have it.

That's what I mean about choices. When I was growing up, it wasn't nearly so easy to make an ass out of one's self in front of millions of people. Today, almost anybody can do it. It's practically an industry.

For what's it's worth, it would be just fine with me if your ambitions led you in other directions. I could coast happily into old age knowing that you never groveled in Donald Trump's boardroom, or chose your fiancee from a gaggle of strangers on the lawn of a French castle.

Aw, Grandpa, you never let me have any fun! If not making a fool of myself for wads of cash, what else is there?

A few weeks ago, something called a tidal wave smashed into the coasts of Asia and Africa, killing more than 160,000 persons. It was a horror that you have no reason to contemplate at your tender age.

But here's what happened afterward. Millions and millions of people around the world reached into their own pockets and sent whatever money they could afford to help the survivors of that tragedy. And thousands more -- nurses, doctors, rescue workers, volunteers -- hopped on planes and flew to lend a hand.

I couldn't tell you the names of these people because they didn't do it in order to become celebrities or win a prize. They did it because they were needed, and because it was decent and humane and right.

Now, I'm not suggesting that you can't gobble live worms on TV and still be a good person. I'm just asking you not to be fooled into believing that sort of thing is remotely important, no matter how much attention it gets.

It seems silly to be laying all this on you now, when your only worldly concern is scoring a dry diaper and some warm milk.

I trust that your father will spare you from this column until you're much older and well on your way.

I'm not too worried. After all, your dad turned out just fine.

And if he ate any worms, he was smart enough not to broadcast it.


  • Man, so many people hate Bush. Come to Canada, my country rocks, and we embrace all Americans. Repeat after me: free health care. Free!

    By Blogger Wardo, at 8:21 PM  

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