Thursday, September 17, 2009

Keeping My Cool When Kanye, Joe and Serena Cannot.



With apologies to my Mom, who, in addition to always encouraging me to wear clean panties, strongly cautions me against blogging inappropriate language.  Sorry, Mom.

"He’s a jackass."

That’s what President Obama replied when asked his opinion of egocentric rapper Kanye West’s treatment of ingĂ©nue country singer Taylor Swift at the recent MTV video music awards.  (For a clip from the awards show, click here.)

(Soon-to-be-former) ABC reporter Terry Moran, apparently so gleeful to have harvested this "off-the-record" tidbit, scarcely paused before sharing the scoop on Twitter (hence my “soon-to-be-former” assumption).

Although the President’s statement was made "off the record," I heartily agree -- two thumbs up to The Chief.  But only "off the record," because as a parent, I’ve got to come up with a more delicately worded response when my kids ask my opinion of  Kanye's literal “upstaging” of Taylor.

Recent news stories about adult behavior challenge my parental obligation to calmly respond and explain without judgment.  I had to edit my wording when I talked to the kids about SC Congressman Joe Wilson’s recent outburst (“You lie!”) in last week’s joint session of Congress.  And tempestuous tennis superstar Serena Williams’ thuglike-threats at the US Open left me all but speechless.

I know I should regard these recent news items as “teachable moments.”  But cheese and rice.  Cheese.  And.  Rice. (Is that OK, Mom?)  Does anyone else feel that civilization as we know it is rapidly swirling down a super-sized toilet?

Look.  Although I’m from the South, I’m not insisting on magnolia-manners or plantation-politeness here.  Manners misdemeanors abound Chez Wiles.  My days of expectedly chanting, “And what do you say?” have long passed.   After a third elbows-on-the-table infraction at any meal, I just look the other way.  And my kids give me props for being a fearsome burp contest contender.  (The trick isn’t swallowing air.  It's being patient.)

Still.  WTH?  What.  The.  Aitch?  (Again, apologies to Mom.)   Has it become cool not to keep your cool in public?

How do we explain to our kids that bad behavior isn’t cool – even when it’s rewarded with clamoring reporters and unending television coverage and, in the instance of Congressman Wilson, vastly increased financial support? How to explain that some people, despite extravagant blessings of fame and wealth and talent and power, can't exercise the basic self-control a kindergartner?  How to convince a teenager that being a good guy will pay off in the long run?  Really.  I promise.  No kidding.

For me it's an ongoing challenge.  Who knows what could confront us on tomorrow morning's Today Show?  I shudder to think.  Right now, though, it's one news story at a time, and I'm hoping that somehow, some time, in a galaxy not too far away, our kids will derive some positive lesson from this outrageous -- and unacceptable -- behavior.  I'm reminded once again that the future is in their hands.  All we parents can do is offer some basic guidance.  And of course, some basic role-modeling in ways to keep your cool, including this somewhat unusual, scrumptious cucumber salad.


Oh.  And one more thing.  Kanye West?  Off the record?  He's a jackass.


*Keeping Your Cool Cucumber Salad*

1 seedless cucumber, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seed oil (or 1 tablespoon regular sesame seed oil)
1 tablespoon white balsamic or rice wine vinegar
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
toasted sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
Toss first four ingredients together. Season generously with salt and pepper. Chill. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds, if desired, and serve.
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