Friday, February 13, 2009

Mr. Sunshine

I found that Wife Swap episode, here. Stephen Fowler is 49. That's what I was looking for -- his age. I saw a photo of him and he looked really decayed. But he's precisely my age. 49. What a train wreck. So I watched the show. He doesn't seem so bad. Not at all. He's just rude. And insecure. And repetitive in his insults. And a selfish pig. That's not so bad. Not very bright though.

He says he doesn't see how calling a town "podunk" could be insulting. After all, if it is podunk, then it's podunk. One word, Mr. Fowler. Nigger. Another word, sir. Faggot. More: kike; spick. Get it?

So he's not really so bad. Just genuinely rude and arrogant and bigoted. That's my bread and butter. It's a disappointment. Because his rudeness isn't clever at all. It's obvious and boorish, and, honestly, honestly, it's actually rather stupid. He harps on education. His dichotomies, us vs. them, are limited and uninspired and unconvincing. And I'd been given to understand his IQ was 158 (mine is higher). No, that's not his IQ. He only has his GRE score, from four years ago, which allegedly ranked him at the 99.99th percentile, which he alleges corresponds to an IQ of 158 (which is lower than mine). Well, could be. If he's reporting accurately. About that multiple choice test that measures, to a large degree, one's test-taking skill.

And the poor woman who's stuck with him for those two weeks. Gayla. An under-achiever, certainly. Fat kids and unread. It's all about having fun, and letting life take you where it will. Not really a way to get ahead in life, but then again, she's doing okay. Ignorant, certainly, with her ineffective parenting, that lets her 15-year-old weigh, what, 280? Cuz riding ATVs is exercise enough? And weight training just made him heavier? So, yes, she, and her husband, are not actually fully engaged with the 21st Century and its perspective on effective methods of attaining and maintaining vital levels of health and fitness. But I am no longer a purist. There is very much to be said, for happiness.

Stephan Fowler's two children are not happy. Gayla wins.

The show has a mid-swap rule change, where the newcomer gets to make the rules. Ms. San Francisco wants to sell the ATVs and have the husband do housework in a skirt -- teach him what it's like, y'see. Mrs. Podunk says no extra homework or machine exercise for the kids -- no big words from the GRE genius (my IQ (I may have mentioned) is higher (and professionally measured (it was in my high school records (I was shocked, and not a little gratified))). I'm a genius, you know. (It looked like a phone number. (They had to express it in scientific notation (cuz I'm so smart, see).)) (And tall (and very good looking (and also strong)). And the chicks really dig me. They are so into me.)). Well, such rules are not reasonable, and both ladies overstepped their bounds. It is forgivable. Reasonable people would state their reasonable objections, and work something out. Housework yes, skirt no. Big words okay, rude conduct not okay. You know -- civility and maturity -- same thing, really.

Organic foods for dumb rednecks? Oh yes, Ms. SF tries to make a difference. And SF -- in this case Stephen Fowler rather than San Fransisco -- does indeed directly address his guest thus: "You dumb redneck, I've already told you once." Actually, he says "You duummmb. Redneck, I've already tol' you once." That's his quick mind at work, don't you know. The insult he can't quite come up with is "white trash". Point is, organic food isn't really necessary. How about not eating only things out of boxes? As for the insulter -- alas, his poor character is insufficient punishment upon himself for the damage his poor character does to others.

I am conflicted. Because they're not wrong, you know, these bigots. The lefties, I mean -- well, him, really, re "bigots". Education matters. Guiding children in the path they should go matters. Being responsible with resources matters. Eating intelligently matters. Sadly, being a pig undoes all the effort. There's something more important than either happiness or success. It's being honorable.

Wasted potential is disgusting. So is crippling hypocrisy. I shan't venture an opinion about which is the sadder case, the Jellybean Kids from Misery, or the Stepford Children from America's anus. I do, alas, know who's more likely to rule the world. We have to feel loved for more than our accomplishments, when we're kids. Love is replaced by neither pride nor duty. It's not only that love justifies itself -- it's necessary. When we have miserable people making the rules, the world is unlovely.

Stephan Fowler, as we know from his insecurity and his spitefulness, doesn't even love himself. As for the rest of them, they're just people trying to make a difference, or to be comfortable. Here's the thing. There aren't many causes worth being a missionary for. None of these people appeared to understand this. But those rednecks really seemed to love each other. It made me smile.


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