Monday, August 03, 2015

The Great Pretenders...

            When we were back at Millville Grade School, my old buddy Stinky Wilmont and I spent a lot of time pretending. During recess we pretended to be something we weren’t, and a lot of time when we were in class we pretended we were someplace else. Wherever we were, we spent a lot of time pretending we were cowboys. At that time they didn’t have astronauts, so we couldn’t pretend to be one of those. Fact was, our world view from Millville was somewhat limited, so there just weren’t a lot of options on what you could pretend to be.

          Our classmate Bernice Hawkins was insufferable when she pretended to be a princess, so most of the time Stinky and I just pretended we didn’t even know she was around. And like most kids, we were pretty good at it. We could pretend that a little stick was a six-shooter, and that a bigger stick was a rifle, and that an even bigger stick was a horse. I don’t think they make sticks like they used to. Or maybe I’m just not as good at pretending as I used to be.

          I don’t pretend nearly as much as I used to, and most of my pretending now amounts to pretending I can still do some things I used to do when I was younger, and usually ends up giving me an aching back, which I try to pretend doesn’t hurt.

          I think most adults pretend something occasionally, but some pretend more than others. A couple of months ago, I read a story about Rachel Dolezal, a woman who pretended to be black in order to get a position with the NAACP. I’m not sure if being black was a requirement for the job, but apparently pretending to be black was a disqualifier, and she lost her job. About 55 years ago, John Howard Griffin pretended to be black and wrote a book about it entitled “Black like me.” It sold over ten million copies. I guess pretending works out better for some than it does for others.

          Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner recently decided that he didn’t want to be a man anymore, and is pretending to be a girl. He now has a girl’s name, and some other things that girls usually have, so I think the pretending is easier, but he also has some things that guys have, which makes the pretending still necessary. The way I see it, he didn’t care when I was pretending to be a cowboy, so I don’t really care if he wants to pretend to be a girl.

          Last week I heard about a planet out there in the universe somewhere named Kepler 425b that NASA says is a lot like the earth. It could be, I guess. The problem is it’s 1400 light years away. Since a light year is about 6 trillion miles, that makes the planet about 8.4 quadrillion miles from here. A little farther if you live in New York. I won’t pretend that I have any idea what all exists in the vastness of space. Maybe there are some other planets a lot like earth. But I do think if you start telling me about what something is like 8.4 quadrillion miles away, we’re both going to have to do some pretending. I feel the same way about NASA as I do about Mr. Jenner when it comes to pretending, in that I don’t really care, except that NASA spent about $600 million of our tax money pretending to find 452b. I’m sure they could have pretended to find something a little closer to home for a little less money.

          Speaking of pretending and taxes, it takes a big portion of our taxes just to pay the interest on $18 trillion plus federal debt we now owe, and it will take a little more when it hits $19 trillion next year. Our elected officials like to pretend, and would like us to pretend, that it doesn’t really matter. But when we realize there is another $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities from the governments promised social programs, and when we see other nations like Greece and Argentina floundering under the weight of debt and out of control government spending, it’s getting harder and harder to pretend it can’t happen here.